Regular readers of this blog will know I have a love of words – their sound, their derivation, their use to finesse description. Words change over time: new ones arrive (take “selfie” or “twerking”, for example) and many drop out of fashion. We don’t now talk in the style of Shakespeare, or Chaucer, or even the Bronte sisters, but from them has emerged the great depth of our English language.
One thing that often engenders the ire of English language purists is turning nouns into verbs. An example might be google (a 1 followed by 100 zeros) which, due to the internet search engine, is often used as a verb: “I’ll just google it!” Yet increased usage allows it to become common, and thus to be a norm – a new verb that is an essential part of our modern day language.
Writers have always invented words. It is part of their make-up: to experiment, to push writing to its limits, to allow language to evolve into something better, more mysterious, more apt. PG Wodehouse is reputed to have invented the word “couth” – the opposite of uncouth. On a similar basis I often find myself wanting to be “ert” or, when it comes to work, “ept”.
So it was with great joy that I thought I’d invented a word to go into Book 2 (working title!). Snailed. It is what the car did: snailed almost to a stop. A gradual, almost slimy, slowing down such that we were still moving but almost imperceptibly.
Ah: pride so often comes before a fall. Joy at the thought I’d invented a word … until I discovered my trusty dictionary has it as an afterthought, right at the end of a large paragraph about the noun. Yes, it would have angered those who don’t want to turn nouns into verbs, but that pales into insignificance behind my disappointment at not having invented a new word.
Perhaps I could just make it trendy? Anyone ready for a high usage of the verb to snail?!