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Neologism Paper

In the book, Frindle, by Andrew Clements (1998), a fifth grade boy named Nick Allen fights against the overbearing grammarian teacher, Mrs. Granger, and creates his own “vocabulary” to challenge the concept that existing words are all there are, and the ever pressing question of “why is this what we say it is. ” In an effort to rail against the dominance of the dictionary, Nick coins his own neologism, or new word, for a pen, dubbing it a “frindle.

” The word catches on amongst his peers, and eventually becomes more than an experimentation in language and a campaign of frustration waged against an elementary school teacher, but rather a demonstration that humans assign purpose and meaning to random words, and that the power of the meaning comes from our own understanding and experience with the language. In my reflection on this assignment, the first neologism that automatically came to mind was the word “cheetle.

” For years, friends of mine have dubbed the orange, powdery substance that is left on your fingers after consuming Cheetos, cheetle. It is the word we used to explain the orange smudge one would find in the corner of a paper, written late at night, while snacking on Cheetos and soda. For example, “Man! I have to reprint this paper – it’s got a cheetle smudge! ” Similarly, it can be used to describe the orange crumbs scattered about one’s chest and corners of the mouth after eating Cheetos, as well. “Dude, wipe you mouth off, you’ve got cheetle all over you! ”

While cheetle may have not worked it’s way into the vast lexicon of Webster’s yet as other “frindles’ have, like “googling,” “emoticons,” or “netiquette,” it has served the very purpose of a neologism, and provided a vehicle for meaning to a situation that needed to be defined. Next time you enjoy a bag of Cheetos and are reaching for a napkin to wipe of that orangey, smudgy substance, you can bet your cheetle you’ll think of this new word and smile. Even your “spellchecker” allows you to “add to dictionary,” so why not add cheetle to yours? References: Clements, A. , & Selznick, B. (1998). Frindle. New York: Aladdin Paperbacks.

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