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PreDictionary: A book of 'vocabularly hopefuls'

By Dana Goldman | Emory Report | April 26, 2012

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Mikhael Epstein talks about "PreDictionary: An Exploraiton of Blank Spaces in Language."

What's in a word? In "PreDictionary: An Exploration of Blank Spaces in Language" (Atelos, 2011), Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Cultural Theory and Russian Literature Mikhail Epstein profiles some 150 new words, making the case for their usage and usefulness in the English language.

The Moscow native has been coining words for more than 30 years. He does so to fill the voids in language, to describe potential things and emerging ideas, or "vocabulary hopefuls" as he explains in the book's preface.

Listen to Mikhail Epstein talk about "PreDictionary":



A sampling of PreDictionary entries:

happicle  n (happy + diminutive suffix –icle, like in "particle," "icicle") – a particle of happiness,  the smallest unit  of happiness; a  single happy occurrence or a momentary feeling of happiness.=                     

Happicles make life worth of living, even in the absence of one big  happiness.

There is no happiness in this world, but there are happicles. Sometimes we can catch them, fleeting and unpredictable as they are.

Like photons, happicles have zero mass at rest— they lack the stable inertial mass that we identify with happiness.  Happicles flash and go out in passing.  They may be as transitory as a fragrance in the air, or a falling leaf, or the  glance of a passerby on the street.

meetnik n  (meet  + suffix nik) – a person who enjoys meetings and all sorts of administrative events  willingly attends them in abundance.   

inventure n (invention+adventure) – an adventure of mind, creative and engaging intellectual action.