A few months ago, J.K. Rowling shocked the Twitterverse and booklovers across the country when she revealed the true name of the big bad villain in her Harry Potter series. I guess he-who-must-not-be-named should have stayed that way, because we’ve all been saying Voldemort’s name wrong! (The “t” should be silent.)
As an avid book reader and lover of all things Harry Potter, a few thoughts ran through my brain that day.
Well, the author made up the word. I guess she would know.
This miscommunication between the author’s page and the reader’s mind made me think about all the other made-up words J.K. Rowling has included in her books over the years. Readers have been introduced to muggles, Dementors, and Horcruxes, among other things.
But J.K. Rowling is by no means the first author to introduce new words into the reader’s vocabulary. In fact, authors throughout history have created words to go along with their stories. It’s practically a prerequisite for any author who wants to create another world for readers to visit. (I’m looking at you, Dr. Seuss!)
But these words are solely reserved for the story, right? It turns out, not always. A few authors have come up with words that, over time, leapt off the pages and became part of our everyday language.
No, people are not going around saying “hobbit” on a daily basis. But what about the word “tween?” The author of The Hobbit invented this word. In The Fellowship of the Ring, J.R.R. Tolkien used tween to describe a hobbit between the ages of 20 and 33. Now the term is used to describe that awkward age for adolescents who are too young to be teenagers, but too old to be children.
But tween may just be a popular word for this generation, like the words “selfie” and “bae.” But what about the words “eyeball” or “bump?” We can thank William Shakespeare for giving us these common terms. And the word “nerd” was introduced by our favorite literary doctor, Dr. Seuss.
So the next time you pick up a book and are transported to another world, try to pick out the new words the author created to illustrate his or her story. One day, one of these creations may turn into a word you use everyday.
For a great place to start, check out these new fiction books from Capstone.
-Michelle Hasselius, Editor