George Orwell wrote, in his essay ‘New Words’, that we ought to make a practice of deliberately coining new words, whenever we see a gap in the language – a concept that can’t be easily expressed with the words already at our disposal. He didn’t give all that many examples in the essay, as far as I remember, but one case he instanced was that we don’t have a word for grown-up children – if your children are in their fifties you still have to say ‘my children’ when talking of them, which doesn’t seem quite right.
Brian Aldiss, in his short story ‘Confluence’ (which is an extract from an imaginary dictionary of the alien language Confluence) gave, among many others, the Confluence expression CHAM ON TH ZAM which means ‘the act of being witty when no one else appreciates it’ – which I should certainly say we need. Perhaps we should just start saying cham on th zam.
One gap that occurs to me is that, although we have a word for giving people food – we feed them – we do not have a word for giving people drink. If we are talking of animals we can use water (‘He fed and watered his horses’) but you can’t use this of people. Maybe we could just start using the nouns for drinks as transitive verbs? (‘He fed and wined his guests’). Actually, come to think of it, we do say ‘wining and dining’, but that is rather a restricted expression. Come to think of it again, Homer Simpson does say ‘Beer me’ – perhaps we are moving in the right direction on this one.
Another omission is that, while most words for bodily functions or other indelicate matters have a medical or scientific equivalent which sounds more respectable, (e.g. we can say perspire rather than sweat, and urinate rather than piss, and defecate rather than shit etc etc) there is no scientific equivalent for the word fart. That’s it, fart, that’s all you can say. Well, there are euphemisms like break wind or pass wind, but that is not really the same thing. Any suggestions would be welcome – as would suggestions for any other concept that seems to be missing a word.