Looking Glass Language

a word bird reflects on life & language

Wordy Wednesday: neologism

Every day I'm capuling

Today’s Wordy Wednesday was inspired by Turkish protest graffiti – ‘Everyday I’m çapuling’ – and by the viral video it gave rise to.
Before I explain the provenance of çapuling though, it’s probably a good idea to remind ourselves of the kind of neologisms we hear and see every day, such as these from the techie world:
  • google (as a verb)
  • troll
  • spam
  • crowdsource (book lovers out there should check out crowd sourcing book publisher, unbound)
  • geotagging – something my friend Dingo does all the time, posting pics of himself on the plane, up a Swiss mountain, in the US, on Lake Geneva, at the Hamble… Frankly, it’s exhausting.
The Washington Post runs a great competition in which it invites readers to create neologisms, usually by changing just one letter of a word. Below you’ll find some wonderfully funny and insightful neologisms coined over the past decade by its readers:
  • Guiltar: A musical instrument whose strings are pulled by your mother. (Frank Mullen III, Aledo, Ill., 2003)
  • Epigramp: A maxim that brands the speaker as an old codger. “If God had wanted women to wear pants . . .” (Brendan Beary, Great Mills, Md., 2007)
  • Eruditz: A philosophy professor who can’t figure out how to work the copying machine.(John Kupiec, Fairfax, Va., 2007)
  • Skilljoy: The would-be friend who’s a bit better than you at everything. (Steve Fahey, Kensington, Md., 2008)
  • Sparadigm: A model panhandler. (Kevin Dopart, Washington, 2009)
  • Defrigerator: Start saving energy now with this special offer from Pepco! (Lennie Magida, Potomac, Md., 2010, in the aftermath of summer storms)
  • Spell a word backward:
  • Skrod: Fish that are always swimming upstream. (Tom Witte, Montgomery Village, 2004)
  • Nword: Something that gets you in really deep trouble. (Russell Beland, Springfield, 2004)
  • Onisac: A dark, often smoke-filled chamber in which elderly Homo sapiens deposit their nest eggs before dying. (Peter Metrinko, Plymouth, Minn., 2004)
  • Words ending in -ion:
  • Errudition: Comical misuse of big words. “Madam, your dress looks positively superfluous on you tonight,” he said with amazing errudition. (Tom Witte, 2006)
  • Percycution: Giving your child a name he will hate for the rest of his life. (Marty McCullen, Gettysburg, Pa., 2006)
  • The word must contain the letter block THES (in any order):
  • Transvestheight: The difference between the jockstrap and the bra. (Frank Mullen III, 2004)
  • With ASTR: Oughtacrats: People who have half a mind to solve all the world’s problems with their brilliant ideas, one of these days . . . (Tom Witte, 2007)

Back to çapulculing – a Turkish neologism coined earlier this summer after Prime Minister Erdogan called protesters gathered peacefully in Taksim Gezi Park ‘çapulcu’, which roughly translates as looters.

“For him çapulcu was an insult,” explained community organizer, Ezgi Bakcay. “However, for the protesters, similar to the way some threw back the gas canisters at police, we threw this word back at him.”
The word was appropriated and adopted by demonstrators and online activists, and çapulcular; çapulistan, and the çapuling shake were born, all of them related to a new definition, “to fight for your rights.” It even spawned a viral video, ‘Everyday I’m çapuling’:
I love the vitality of language, and the way that protesters used a neologism to spread the word about their protest.

And the original, by LMFAO, just because…


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