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Kitchen Table Lingo

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Ellen West - web producer | 10:53 UK time, Friday, 6 June 2008

The English Project have announced what sounds like an interesting idea - an attempt to gather up the new words that people invent and use with their family and friends. Called Kitchen Table Lingo, and rejoicing in the rather odd (and seemingly inaccurate) acronym KETTLE, the team are asking for people's new words via their website and will be publishing the collection online and in book form.


This is not, however, a new version of The Meaning of Liff, the brilliant book published by Douglas Adams and John Lloyd in the 1980s, which created definitions for ideas and objects not currently described by a word, and associated them with place names eg

"BODMIN (n.)
The irrational and inevitable discrepancy between the amount pooled and the amount needed when a large group of people try to pay a bill together after a meal."
The English Project stress that this is a chance to record words that people are actually using and to investigate whether they actually spread beyond the private language of a small group.

Perhaps I'm lacking creativity, but I tend to find that instead of making up new words I use words from other languages instead - having a 'voglia' for something is the Italian for a strong desire, a craving; disrupting the 'wa' is the Japanese for creating friction among a group of people etc. During a discussion on the Today programme this morning, I sensed the same tendency. They mentioned the private word 'shluff', but after the item they added the caveat that it was a Yiddish term, not a made-up word. I hope that the project charts both original words and those that come from other languages.

Have you and your friends coined a private language not based in other languages? It would be interesting to know. Until then, I leave you with my deepest contrafibularities


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