Made-up Words in English
There are many instances – in everyday conversation, in the media, overheard in public places, emails, and texts – when you ask yourself “is this a made-up word?”
When people listen to you speak, as I’m sure you know, they judge you—they make snap decisions about your level of education, how worldly you are, whether you’re cultured, and on and on…I’m not saying that to make you self-conscious, I’m saying it so you know not to fall into the habit of repeating all the English words you hear.
When is it a Made-up Word?
Americans can be lazy when it comes to spoken English. Slang is a fun way to connect with your peers, and spice up your casual speech, but if you’re sitting down to a job interview you don’t want to bust out your Hip Hop lingo, AND you don’t want to pepper your responses to questions with NON-WORDS.
Let’s talk about the BIG 5 when it comes to ‘made-up words.
“Irregardless” Big NO. You should say “regardless” or “irrespective.” “Irregardless” is a non-word made up of real words, when you use it, you have ensured your place on your English instructors hit list!
“Anyways” What’s with the “s” at the end of the perfectly good word, “anyway”? Hearing this word come out of someone’s mouth is like listening to someone who says “like” every 3 words—they just don’t sound smart …
“Firstly” Ummm … you mean, “first” or perhaps “in the first place”? Again, a perfectly adequate word or phrase is tossed aside so you can say something that sounds clumsy—I’m confused:/
“Orientate” Orient is the word this new, strange mouthful is taking the place of—orient means, to get your bearings
“Gonna” This is a mash-up of “going to”, everyone loses a few IQ points when this slips out instead.
These words are misused so often that they do not elicit the question: “Is this a word?” However, new words are constantly being added to dictionaries, many of which have been made up and then so widely used that they become part of the everyday lexicon.
English is a tricky language, culture plays such a big part in its usage that we can lose sight of what real spoken English is meant to be. If you’re going to put in the time to learn English as a second language, learn actual English! Save the slang and made up words for weekends with your crew.