Ambiguous Language Refers To The Fact That Some Words Have Inventors of Words – Neologisms in Science Fiction

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Inventors of Words – Neologisms in Science Fiction

The most famous new word in science fiction is undoubtedly “robot”, written by the Czech writer Karel Čapek in 1920: RUR (“Rossum’s Universal Robots”). I don’t know any Czech, but I dare say that “robot” comes from a similar root to Russian work, work. So much more than a word made up entirely out of thin air. we have a new form of the existing word, expressing a new idea.

Therefore, “Robot” is one way down the spectrum from neologisms that are just convenient abbreviations (such as “mascon” for “concentration of mass”) to truly new words and ideas. (Of course, the writer can also invent a new word to express old idea, although this is usually quite meaningless. I think there is Larry Niven Ringworld Engineers I invented a new word for sex, although I can’t remember what the word is and can’t be bothered to look it up.)

Even if they are mostly false abbreviations, new words can offer a new slant on previously expressed ideas.

Perhaps an example of this is the “spider” written by Brian Aldiss. Helliconia spring. “Pauk” means “a trance in which a person can communicate with the spirits of their ancestors.” Or in which thinks maybe…. because it’s not clear from the Helliconia trilogy as a whole whether the spider is a real spirit contact phenomenon or a mental illusion that exists at a certain stage of society. The latter interpretation stems from the fact that the “souls” of the dead change their outward mood from angry to sweet with the development of civilization.

A more obscure, but perhaps more original, term is Heinlein’s Martian “grok.” A stranger in a strange land. If you cry, you tune into some ineffable wholeness; is a mystical concept, perhaps too vague to be useful, but at least we can say in its favor that no obvious equivalent previously existed in English.

From the abstract to the concrete, a derivation of an existing word used for a new purpose is “drainer” in Robert Silverberg’s work. Time for Changes. Drainer is a kind of secular confessor, a member of a choral profession, where he opens himself up verbally in solitude to relieve stress in a culture that forbids the overt use of the personal pronoun “I”.

Jack Vance created new words for the days of the week Araminta station, simply to avoid the jarring incongruity of using our familiar Friday, Saturday, etc., in the context of a distant planet tens of thousands of years from now, even though its inhabitants are human, descended from us, and culturally similar to us. He was right to do so. The words he chooses are wonderful additions to the atmosphere of his tale.

An interesting example of an author deliberately avoiding neologism is Gene Woolf in the appendix to the first volume of his Far Future saga. New Sun Book stated:

In translating this book—originally composed in a language that did not yet exist—into English, I could easily have saved myself much labor by resorting to invented terms; I never did that. Thus, in many cases I have had to replace concepts that have not yet been discovered with their closest equivalents of the 20th century. words like peltast, androgynous, and happy such substitutions are suggestive rather than definitive.

He is right; the effect is highly suggestive, and his decision not to go the neologism route is a linguistic triumph that leads to a sumptuous feast of prose texture. But then he writes about a distant future Earth. If he were writing about another world, neologisms would be more appropriate.

The Ooranye Project found it necessary to invent new words for some Uranian concepts. For example, two political neologisms can be found in giant planet:

“Lremd” has meanings of luck and skill; it can be defined as the gift of being in the right place at the right time, of being able to navigate one’s way through many events without metaphorically bumping into or pushing against other people. You could call it an internal personal radar. Noads – city rulers – must have this quality. This allows them to often go on adventures as private people and keep in close touch with ordinary life. Perhaps this brings Rousseau’s ambiguous idea of ​​a “general will” closer to reality. Du Contrat Social, an impractical idea in our world for any gathering larger than a group of friends. Thanks to Lremd, government in Ooranye can be non-bureaucratic, not only free, but free and easy, impossible on earth!

“Arelk” is as bad as “lremd” is good. Arelk can be defined as “political hardening of the arteries” where a policy turns into bureaucratic rigidity and ultimately tyranny. Arelk is one of the most feared events of the lremd-loving people of Oorany.

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