Monday, July 12, 2010

Lexical Gaps

As an English major, Linguistics 101 was a required course. Surprisingly, I actually loved the class . . . though that might have been because the teacher was a stand-up comedian on the side.

So of all the things I'm sure I should have learned from that class, what I best remember are Lexical Gaps.

Lexical Gaps, in the linguistic sense, are possible word forms which aren't really words. Sometimes it's because another word already exists to express the same meaning, sometimes there's no real reason. It just isn't.

Examples would be funner, badder, goodest, extinctified, unreplaceable, fantabulous.

Granted, some lexical gaps are a bit grating (i.e. goodest, badder, funner), but used right, they can liven things up and give a sense of personality. I've seen a couple on blogs that are fun: besties, awesomesauce

So the question is, do you have a favorite lexical gap? And would you ever use it in your book?

P.S. Now when someone tells you "That's not a word," you can tell them, "Yes, but it's a lexical gap, so I can use it." :D


JE said...

Oh, yay! Now I have something to tell my beta when she says 'thats not a word' lol. Perfect!!


Stina said...

LOL. Now I have a perfect excuse for my accidentally made up words. Thanks!!!!

I would only use lexical gaps intentionally if they added to the characterization.

Terri Tiffany said...

I have never ever heard of this!I love it and yes, I've used badder but not in my writing!

Candyland said...

AHH!! LOVE IT! I say "fantasmic!" And now, I can say it's a word?? SWEET.

Clara said...

Awesomeness! But I can't definetly put this one in my book.
Still, thanks for sharing this, now I can say it is a lexical gap! Weeeee!!!!

Raquel Byrnes said...

I actually have a teenage version of my MC use the word "gi-normous" in a flashback.

I love awesomesauce though.

Lenny Lee said...

hi miss janet! wow thats fun stuff! one of my brothers makes up words like that all the time. i think theyre sooo funnish. ha ha. i use some of them in my stories. heres one i like lots. scrumptulicious!
...smiles from lenny

Celeste said...

My 8 year old son, Alec, wrote a story called "Utelicious" (based on the book "Pinkalicious") where a boy went to so many Utah Utes football games that he turned red. The doctor told him to go to BYU games to help balance him out ("BOO!"). It was very funny!

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

LOL, I don't even have to click on the links to know whose blogs those terms belong to!

I've started thinking in TXT...Does that count? WT???

Vicki Rocho said...

Mine (verbally speaking, not in my writing) is DEFINITELY fantabulous. I say it about 20 times a day. Every time I answer the phone and the person on the other end asks how I'm doing. FANTABULOUS! I say. I'd make them engrave it on my tombstone someday, but it seems more morbid than appropriate at that point, LOL

Anonymous said...

So, that's the word for it! Lexical gaps!

I think I'm going to be required to take a Linguistics 101 class, as well, since I'm going to be an English major. I hope to have a stand-up comedian teacher like you did.

Anyway, as for using a lexical gap in a book, I don't think I would really...but I'm not making any promises, 'cause I can use them sometime in the future!

Write on and awesome post!

Unknown said...

Fantabulous is a fun one, and I might use it in one of my novels down the road. Maybe to make fun of a mean girl or something. Just depends on how I'm feeling, would it ever make it to print? Now that is the real question!

Gina said...

YAY! So now I know the "fun" words I add into a review have an actual term/definition to back up there existance...
My favorites...fantastical and fantabulous. They just give it that extra oomph sometimes. ^_^

Victoria Dixon said...

This is great! Not only a fun pick me up, but the perfect grammar queen response. ;D

WritingNut said...

I didn't know this! Ahhhh.. and I have so many!

Missed Periods said...

Ooooh. I have never heard of a lexical gap. Is it kind of the same as slang?

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