AN ESSAY BY A PERSON WHO HAS USED TOO MANY OF THEM
The study of the syntax and grammar of non-existent words is a fascinating one, mainly because you are able to make it up as you go along. But you're never quite sure where you are with non-existent words, either ...
For instance, take the words:
A quick search on Dictionary demonstrates that they do not exist. What do they mean? We don't know. Are they really spelled that way? We can't say for sure. Where did they come from? Nobody knows.
You see, the trouble with non-existent words is that, not only are there an infinite amount of them out there to choose from, but there are an infinite amount of possible meanings out there to choose from as well. How can you choose? How is it possible to choose between them?
And these aren't the only non-existent words that we have to worry about. There are also those non-existent words that already exist, words that have already been made up by others or that are spelled in exactly the same way as currently existing words, but yet mean something completely different.
Into this category fall such words as:
The student of non-existent words, upon realising this, will often through up his or her hands in despair, and go back to writing miserable iambics on the back of his toilet paper. So much safer, you see. As well they might, because things just keep on getting more complicated.
What happens, for instance, when you put a whole load of non-existent words into a sentence? The grammatical problems encountered with the individual words are multiplied tenfold. And then, there are the problems you encounter when you write whole books consisting of made up words, phrases, and places. No writer has ever quite achieved this vertiginous feat, although many have tried. *
But then again, maybe we should leave the whole question of grammar to the experts, and get along with the altogether more amusing task of using the made up words.
One flubble day, I was angandering along the ustokula, when I was vlabled by a rather dambulous examiter. Needless to say, I was rather blustered, and the only word that I could think of was "Hasapopolous!"
It was a most champuling thing to have happen. And that, my dear astumate, is only the trongalop. Stranger things were soon to graspulade ...
Or maybe not.
Jorge Luis Borges, Labyrinths
Lewis Carroll, Collected Works
Douglas Adams, The Meaning of Liff
Mervyn Peake, Nonsense
* And let's not even begin on the subject of non-existent items of punctuation, such as the glinph, the reverted comma, the lyphen, the half-stop, the umpursand, the bloaph, the upper-lower-case heugh, and the repentage sign.
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