If you haven’t noticed I love making up words; verbifying nouns, twisting nouns into adjectives, playing with language. I love it when other people do the same. One of the first poems I memorized was the Jabberwocky. I love using made up words in sentences. Heck I’ll even take acronyms. Got a few of my own. AWADJ, anyone?
It comes by me naturally. For most of my childhood, I thought the word ‘rumphled’ was a real word. It was only after several heated debates over scrabble boards and (back then) much page riffling through both dictionaries and thesauruses (thesaurisie – like an octopus-dinosaur but with more tentacles) that we discovered that it wasn’t. It was a sad day.
But why such a heated debate? Because when my father or mother said it, usually as an admonishment, it described completely and irrevocably the state of our unmade bed. Not ruffled, for that suggested a dainty frill of an embellishment, not the pillow-mangled sheet-eskewness of our linens. No. Not even rumpled, as that implied something that had tumble-weeded through our nightmares to end at the foot of our bed in a tight ball; even though we discovered that indeed rumpled was the closest to the proper word. Not unfortunately rumbled with its implication that some kind of nocturnal gang war – once upon a time known as a rumble – thank you West Side Story – had broken out and our bed the sad unkempt and dismal casualty of said disagreement. Take that bed and all of your ilk, for daring to force me into slumber. Ha ha! Alas, no, again.
Our beds were rumphled; a hodpodgery [like a menagerie but with less animals and more attitude] of all that those words implied; frilled and tumbled and combated. Apropos, as we were uncommonly contemptuous of bedtime and as we shared beds and bedrooms, our rebellion was made evident in the after math with a veracious zest. So rumphled it was, until such a time as adulthood and orneriness dashed our eloquent dreams. Strangely it was also at the same time that our war against sleep hit a denouement. We lost many battles that day.
But perhaps that is why I write science fiction and fantasy. I get to create worlds. And how do you do that? With words. Names of people and places with just a hint of exotic other worldliness to transport you there. Procedures and their accompanying gizmos for processes that don’t even exist… yet. Yeah – I’m looking at you Star Trek and your flip phone. Adversely, words can inspire. Ever hear an exotic name and wonder at the story of the person behind it – or in my case, just make one up? I know of some people who collect interesting names. That would be a great source for inspiration.
Then there are others who mash words together. Matt Galloway, the host of Metro Morning on CBC Radio One has coined two of my favorites. Dark o’clock – the ridiculously early hour he must wake up to get to work. Mizzle – when the mist is so thick it feels like it is rain drizzling on you. I am so going to look for an opportunity to use that one in a sentence and with the way the weather is right now, it’ll be sooner rather than later. Thanks, Matt, for the inspiration. Who knows, maybe that’ll be a common weather occurrence on some distant planet in one of my science fiction books. Hmmm…gets me thinking… See what I mean! Inspiration.
And so, I will continue to use rumphled, not only as an homage to my rambunctious family, but because, imaginary a word as it is, it holds its own unique and distinct flavour. So in the hopefully not too distant future, when you read a story of mine and come across the word rumphled in a sentence, know that it is not a typo, despite spell check pinging like the dickens.
Tolkien made up an entire language. Can’t I have just one word? For now…