Making up Words

The sun makes my eyes tired. In a soporific sort of way.

The word “soporific” always makes me think of Beatrix Potter’s “Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies”

It is said that the effect of eating too much lettuce is “soporific.”
I have never felt sleepy after eating lettuces; but then I am not a rabbit.
They certainly had a very soporific effect upon the Flopsy Bunnies!

I, too, have never felt the specific soporific effects of lettuce but I most definitely have felt the somniferous effects of roast beef with all the trimmings.

Somniferous. What a juicy word. I found it whilst looking for a verb version of soporific.

I initially wrote in my notebook about the sun making my eyes tired in this way:

“The sun soporific-ises my eyes-es”

Of course, neither “soporificises” nor “eyeses” existses as wordses and the verb version of “somniferous” in that sentence would be:

“The sun somnifies my eyes”

But, again, another non-existent word. Officially anyway.

However, making up words is allowed when you are a self-declared/appointed poet. I prefer to think of these words as ones that are “not yet in common use”, as that is really what all now freely accepted words once were after they were dreamed into existence.

There are some people that disagree with the evolution of the English language, not willing to accept that words found in the Urban Dictionary or on our mobiles could one day end up in the place all English words long to be when they grow up – the Oxford English Dictionary.

I also felt for a while that I was against this evolution, out of the desire to show my loyalty to the sacredness of things, until I came across Stephen Fry’s take on the subject. I changed my mind about what it means to be a Guardian of the English language.

Please give it a watch (I especially enjoyed the “meld” example):



So according to Mr Fry, being a Guardian of English (or any language, perhaps) is to enjoy and understand language, not to be an inflexible purist about it. I agree with him. It’s changing all the time and adapting to it can be fun. Language is an amalgamation of everything in life and really just a vehicle by means to express feelings and thoughts. I believe that is why, when we learn new languages, it’s important to learn from the native speakers of that language as well as from written sources, as there are all sorts of little nuances in pronunciation, tone, pitch, shortening and skipping of words that add to the understanding that usually cannot be found in books or in courses.

What are your thoughts on this?

Comment below if you’re a grammar Nazi or more of a “Love not War” word hippie or even somewhere in between.

P.S. This wasn’t what I was going to write about at all…


Featured image of Survivor Bunny in the midst of lettuce soporificity drawn by me.

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Making up Words
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6 thoughts on “Making up Words

  1. Haha yes Stephen, everyone is actually, a Brit.

    Heavily scrutinised and graded English exams are rather un-book.

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