Monday, April 28, 2008

Building vocabulary one fake word at a time

Every time you say "disencluttered," God kills
a puppy. Please think of the puppies.
I was perhaps 10 minutes into a phone call with my brother Zero when he mentioned "disencluttering" something.

"What did you say?" I asked.


"Sounds like a Bushism," I said.

"It is not a Bushism!" Zero insisted. "It's a real world." I wondered momentarily if that meant that he had taken the word clutter and loved it so much that its eyes had fallen off, and its fur was all worn away, like some linguistic Velveteen Rabbit, and then he added: "It comes up on Google and everything."

At this point I appealed to a nonexistent language snobbery on my part, and insisted that if it doesn't show up in the Oxford English Dictionary, then it's not a real word.

Zero wasn't moved. "It's a real word," he said again, clutching that mantra like a security blanket when the night is closing in and monsters stir unpleasantly beneath the beds of little children. "It shows up on Google."

Late Sunday night, I checked, and sure enough, disenclutter does show up on Google. What Zero failed to disclose was that his site is the only place this alleged word appears. At least it was. I expect a Google search soon will turn up this page as well, with the following notation: Zero is a goober.

Still, I don't blame him for failing to disclose on the phone that the word is his concoction. If I were responsible for such an abberation, I doubt I'd be all that quick to draw attention to it either.

On his site, he asks that readers add the word on their own web pages so that its usage will proliferate. Note that I have done so here. After all, what are brothers for?

1 comment:

Zero (or is that Zorro?) said...

Gene Weingarten also uses Google to define words (e.g. The "Googlenope."

Call me an egalitarian fool, but if it's good enough for Gene, then by golly, it's good enough for me.