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What’s in a word?

March 22, 2021

JW

By Julian Walker
Head of External Market Communications and PR, CWT

Almost every day I deal with a neologism, while sometimes I have to engage with a prelogism, and, occasionally, if I am especially lucky, I attend the birth of a protologism. What am I?

This isn’t actually a riddle, and I am not a doctor (well, I am a spin doctor, but that actually has nothing to do with it.)

I am a normal businessman, working in a world where the language I understand is constantly evolving in strange ways, with new words freshly created (protologisms), some of which catch the imagination and start to be used experimentally in meetings (prelogisms), or take flight and soar into our vocabularies to become everyday usage (neologisms).

This exotic evolution of the way we speak can sometimes grate on the eardrum – my own bête noire being ideate (which as it turns out dates back to the 17th Century, and so probably doesn’t really count). But increasingly, and more obviously in this world of video conferencing, people just accept a new word and feel no need to socialise it with their co-workers as words are spliced together to create a neologism.

Bleisure – the act of adding a couple of days‘ holiday onto a work trip, is a firm favourite in today’s travel lexicon. Staycation – to holiday in your own country – is growing in popularity, while woliday and workation – to take a working vacation – are not. Should they though? Are they a better use of a neologism?

Why do some new words stick like Velcro and others drop out of consciousness with the slipperiness of quicksilver (the liquid metal mercury that is, not the Marvel X-Men character)?

So the other day, I started researching some travel-related ones and found a few I like- and once we are allowed back on the road, I look forward to following their progress into our daily usage with one Roger Moore-style quizzically raised eyebrow:

  • Brip – a short business journey
  • Jetiquette – the accepted form of behaviour when flying
  • Munky – someone who is addicted to meetings
  • Solivagant – one who travels the world alone
  • Sunbelievable – the sheer joy of being happy and relaxed in the sun
  • Tripophobia – a fear of having no excursion to which you can look forward
  • Voluntourism – taking time out from your job to work abroad for a charity

But we don’t have to create new words.

Sometimes other languages just capture the essence perfectly, and for me, there is a Swedish word which sums up a sensation I cannot wait to experience again once lockdowns are a thing of the past: resfeber – the restless race of a traveler’s heart before the journey begins.  

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