One of the most weirdly difficult battles I have with students, taken as a group, is to get them to replace dictionary.com with the OED (freely available online through the school).Â Despite all the informational advantages of the latter, and its convenience, sites such as the former remain the default.
But look at how Neal “Snow Crash” Stephenson comes up with words such as loglo and his other neologisms:
AVC: There are a lot of neologisms in your books in generalâ€”in Anathem, largely iterations of or plays on existing words, in Snow Crash and The Diamond Age, invented words for invented futuristic concepts. Do you have a method for making made-up words sound sensible, for avoiding the terrible-made-up-word disease that hits so much science fiction and fantasy?
NS: “Method” is an awfully dignified word for it, but here goes: In the room where I work, I have a chalkboard, and as I’m going along, I write the made-up words on it. A few feet from that chalkboard is a copy of the full 20-volume Oxford English Dictionary, to which I refer frequently as a source of ideas and word roots. Whenever I get distracted or bored, my eyes wander over to that chalkboard and I read the words. Some of them grow on me, and others annoy me. I attack the latter with eraser and chalk, and keep nudging at them until I like the way they look and sound. Others never make the cut at all and simply get erased. Perhaps one day I will sell these on eBay to RPG players who need names for characters or alien races.
Playing with the OED.Â It’s a beautiful thing.