Do you speak American?

PBS has an interesting website on American English at that they title “Do you speak American?”  One fun page at the site is an interactive quiz to see if you can match a speaker to a region of the country: [Link].

Another page explains how various presidents have coined new words throughout the years, such as “administration,” “lunatic fringe,” and “misunderestimate”: [Link].

The article refers to one who coins new words as a neologist.  My reaction to reading that was “Oh, they meant to say lexicographer.”  But, it turns out that PBS has the better word.    According to my dictionary, a lexicographer is “a writer, editor, or compiler of a dictionary.”  However, neologize means “to make or use new words or create new meanings for existing words.”  It would seem that a lexicographer is merely a person who records established definitions rather than the more creative neologist who coins entirely original meanings for words.

A lesser known corollary to the lexicographer [sic: neologist] rule is that a patentee is also entitled to be his or her own grammarian.  See Chicago Steel Foundry Co. v. Burnside Steel Foundry Co., 132 F.2d 812, 814-15 (7th Cir. 1943), cited in Jonsson v. Stanley Works, 903 F.2d 812, 820-21 (Fed. Cir. 1990).

*By the way, while playing SCRABBLE over the holidays, I tried to explain to my family that as a patent attorney, I was entitled to be my own lexicographer [sic: neologist] when proposing new words on the board.  They didn’t buy it.

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