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29 October 2014
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Why do we talk nonsense?
Pure rubbish

Nonsense talk
by Steven Green

You know that feeling when the whole of the English language just isn't quite enough, and you need to invent a new word to explain exactly what you mean?

Whilst all new words are by no means derived purely from 'nonsense', being creative with the very sound and structure of words has certainly added words to the language, examples including 'hoax' and 'blurb'.Returning for a moment to my group, after assuming my position in my reserved 'stick', we'd then perhaps talk about the minor events of the day. This involved its own vocabulary of made-up words, including:

Schnaypidge - indicating an injury, or something that had been damaged. For example, (pointing to a cut finger) "I've got a bit of schnaypidge there".

Schnaypers - The cause of the damage (or 'schnaypidge'). For example, "How did you cut your finger?" "The schnaypers got me".

The last example in particular shows that often these words are invented for concepts that perhaps don't have a word already, because there's no such word in English that could indicate a 'general object that causes pain.'It also injects some humour into an otherwise banal conversation - "How did you cut your finger?" "I caught it on the door handle" isn't really a stimulating chat between friends, but the use of the 'nonsense' word adds an imaginative dimension to an everyday situation. It took me a few goes to work out a plausible spelling for 'schnaypidge', which indicates another feature of these words - we very rarely write them, as they are more often only part of our spoken language.Some of these newly coined words may be more likely to become part of the language (well, more likely than 'schnaypidge') if they seem to have a lexical logic. John, a Voices site user from Easterhouse, says as a child he used the term to 'dreep', from a wall. His technique involved holding on to the wall by his hands, stretching downwards and then letting go.The word 'dreep' presumably coming from of a mixture of drop and creep - he was neither dropping from the wall and gravity meant he couldn't just creep down it, so he dreep down!

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