A Lexicon of Neologisms.  Mikhail Epstein (Emory University)


          Language. Textuality


infinition n (definition + infinitity; Lat in, not + finire, to bound, limit, from finis,  boundary) – an infinite process of defining something that cannot be fully or precisely defined; an endless list of possible definitions.


infine v trans (Lat in, not +  finis,  boundary; cf. define, refine) – to define in a negative way something indefinable, to stop or postpone the process of definition.


Certain fluid concepts in their emergent state are  subject to infinition--infinite dispersal of their meaning--rather than to definition. To infine is to suggest the infinity of possible definitions of a certain term or concept and therefore to problematize its meaning and the possibility or the benefit of defining it. For example, to infine love means to enlist all existing definitions and to recognize that the theme itself is subject only to infinition. Infinition releases the concept from restricting demarcations and places it in an indeterminate zone. For example, Jacques Derrida never defines his method of deconstruction but only infines it in numerous passages.  Infinition is for the humanities what a transcendental number is for mathematics with its "infinite decimal expansion," expressed by a non-periodic decimal fraction: an endless approximation to and escape from a discrete definition.



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lexicopoeia n (Gr lexis, "word, phrase, expression," from legein, say, and Gr poiein, "to make or compose") – word-composition, word-creation;  the minimal genre of literature, the art of composing a single word, a neologism (using the material of roots, combining forms, onomatopoetic units, etc.)


There are many sorts of neologisms: new brand names, scientific terms, political or technical jargon, colloquialisms, and slang. When a word is composed for the word's sake, as a manifestation of its beauty, this genre of verbal artistry is called "lexicopoeia."


The word "lexicopoeia" graphically and phonetically reminds me of "cornucopia"a symbol of verbal abundance.



 lexicopoem n (Gr lexis, word, phrase, expression, from legein, say, + Gr poiein, to make or compose) – a single word as a poetic composition; a neologism  as a verbal artistic work.


Ralph Emerson said:  "Every word was once a poem." The word lexipoem is   a condensation of this aphorism into a single word. Every word (lexis) was once a poem (poiema)…   and still IS at the moment of its coinage.



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protologism  n (Gr protos, first, original + Gr logos, word; cf. prototype, protoplasm) - a newly created word which has not yet gained any wide acceptance. It is a prototype, or a hypothetical projection, of a  new lexical unit , which may eventually become current in writing or speech.


In contrast to protologisms, neologisms are words that already  enjoy public usage  by   people other than their inventors. As soon as a protologism finds its way into newspapers and websites, journals and books, it becomes a neologism.


 The word "protologism" proposed here and now is itself an example of protologism.



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textoid n (text+the suffix “-oid” of Gr origin, “like,” “like that of”; cf. asteroid) -  a virtual text that is open to editing by any user and   exists only in the moment of its reading.


The textoid is a transitory text that has never been written as such and has no other composer than the reader herself.


Is the traditional notion of text, central to the humanities, left intact in the digital era?  Or is the immutable, self-identical text converted now into fluid, dynamic, nomadic text-like formations, textoids that wander from site to site and are modified by users, much like an epic song in a traditional community? For example, Wikipedia, an online encyclopedia, is a huge collection of textoids that are permanently revised and never acquire  the  stable status of texts. 



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Silentese  noun or adjective (silent + suffix –ese, like in Chinese, Japanese, Portuguese) – the language of silence; it may use paralingustic signs, gestures, mimicry and facial expressions.


He didn't say anything. –  Why, he spoke eloquently, but it was Silentese, the most difficult language to study and understand.


We are working on a Silentese-English dictionary.  It translates into English the  contents  of our minds and the meanings of our silence for which, so far,  we  have no vocabulary.


In our comprehension of complex  visual images or mathematical formulas we often use Silentese. We can think them, but are unable to verbalize them.



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verbject n (verb+object) – a verbal object,  a mixed genre of  conceptual art or installation in which a material object and its verbal description compose one aesthetic whole.


In Ilya Kabakov's verbjects, words do not hide what is standing before the viewer; the material presence of the object remains sharp and tense, and the more the artist's vision is concentrated, the more naturally  it  engenders and "leads" a text.



                           PreDictionary. A Lexicon of Neologisms