I read an article recently on Ted.com about “When Shakespeare Committed Word Crimes.”1 It shared thoughts about how he had invented new words and metaphors as he needed them. The culture was changing at that time and his ideas added so much to the English language that we now tend to take for granted. I thought it interesting because being from a different part of the country, the South, and now in the Midwest I have noticed the differences in the phrases, metaphors, and/or cliches people say. Even more interesting is how they change regionally within a state and even from state to state.
Words and phrases like:
“neither here nor there”
“the short and the long of it”
“it’s Greek to me”
“seen better days”
“eaten me out of house and home”
If you want to see more you can visit this site that will share a list of his coined phrases, or ones he just embraced.
In the South2
“like a chicken with its head cut off”
“like pullin’ blood out of a turnip”
“all dressed up and nowhere to go”
“bless her heart”
In the Midwest3
Is new word creation a crime?
I think it is always good to create new words. As long as grammatically they come out correct. Its certainly not a crime. At least not under the traditional definition of crime.
The great thing is it can be as easy as adding a prefix or suffix. Ness’s, ize’s, er’s, un’s could all be used to turn an old word into a new word. Sometimes new words are simply created from slang that is thrown around in the part of the country you live in. It may make no sense to most of the world, but perfect sense to you. If it’s not relevant and adoptable then why bother creating it at all.
“Language is the blood of the soul into which thoughts run and out of which they grow.”- Oliver Wendell Holmes