New ROOTs?

Discuss word origins and meanings.

New ROOTs?

Post by Eleonor » Tue Apr 26, 2005 7:45 am

Thank you,guys,for the discussion.I find it really useful and interesting.But I feel I should give some more clues.In order to be considered 'new' a root must be artificial(man-made). My teacher claims that all the words are not man-made, because ,it is obvious that 'no roots appear'(in present days), or man is uncapable of creating a new world. Language is like clay in our hands, we do not create anything, just give a new shape to already existing matter. However, I feel he's not right. As far as we can create new materials and objects we can invent new names for them, just random words. The problem is I can't think of anything different than 'nylon'(New York + London - new matter with à traceable name). However unsubstantiated his theory is, I am the one with no examples.
The word 'robot', you mentioned, made me think of some examples from the literature - 'smurf', for instance, or a word Pippi Longstocking makes up(I don't know its English correspondance). 'Smurf' is a funny example, anyway.
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New ROOTs?

Post by Bobinwales » Tue Apr 26, 2005 8:42 am

Supercalifragalisticexpialidocious.
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New ROOTs?

Post by Ken Greenwald » Tue Apr 26, 2005 8:58 am

Eleonor, The name NYLON does not derive from 'New York and London' — this is a well-known urban legend (i.e. myth). For a good discussion of this see Ask the Wordwizard
(nylon ). It is also discussed in David Wilton’s new book Word Myths: Debunking Linguistic Urban Legends (2004) as well as in the Oxford English Dictionary, and many other sources . The word Nylon was invented by DuPont’s marketing department in 1938 and is “an arbitrary name with no meaning” (Wilton). “Other theories have been suggested as to the origin of this word (such as a connection with the place names ‘New York’ and ‘London’), but are not supported by any evidence” (OED).
<1938 ‘NYLON’ is a generic name, coined by the du Pont chemists, to designate all materials defined scientifically as ‘synthetic fiber-forming polymeric amides having a protein-like chemical structure; derivable from coal, air and water, or other substances, and characterized by extreme toughness and strength and the peculiar ability to be formed into fibers and into various shapes, such as bristles and sheets’”—‘N.Y. Times,’ 28 October, page 34/3>

<1940 “The du Pont letter, written by John W. Eckelberry, covers the general status of nylon as follows: ‘The word is a generic word coined by the du Pont Co. It is not a registered name or trademark . . . We wish to emphasize the following additional points: First, that the letters N-Y-L-O-N have absolutely no significance, etymologically or otherwise . . . Because the names of two textile fibers in common use—namely “cotton” and “rayon”, end with letters “on” . . . it was felt that a word ending in “on” might be desirable. A number of words . . . were rejected because it was found they were not sufficiently distinct from words found in the dictionary, or in lists of classified trademarks. After much deliberation, the term “NYLON” was finally adopted.’”—Women’s Wear Daily,’ 9 February, page 22>

<1988 “Gladding thought of norun, which would have caused problems because NYLON stockings did run. He then turned it around to nuron but thought that sounded like a nerve tonic. So he changed the r to an l, making it nulon. This apparently was very similar to an existing trademark, and Gladding realized that many advertisements would refer to new nulon, a redundant-sounding phrase. Next, he changed the u to an i and got nilon, which unfortunately has three pronunciations: nillon, neelon, or NYLON. The latter one was chosen, and Fiber 66 was given a name.”—‘Science & Corporate Strategy’ by D. Hounshell & J. Kenly, xiii. page 269>
(Oxford English Dictionary, Trade Name Origins by Adrian Room, Facts on File Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins, Word Myths: Debunking Linguistic Urban Legends by Wilton)
___________________

Ken G – April 25, 2005
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New ROOTs?

Post by Eleonor » Wed Apr 27, 2005 6:19 am

Thank you, Ken! Then 'NYLON' is the right word! I've been looking for it for quite a lot time. "With no meaning" sounds definitely like a new root. Thanks again!
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New ROOTs?

Post by Erik_Kowal » Wed Apr 27, 2005 7:13 am

Of course, the 1940 description makes it clear that the '-on' suffix in 'nylon' was not novel, and the selection of the 'nyl-' prefix was influenced by both 'no' and 'new', even if merely negatively. So one could still argue that the coinage 'nylon' is only novel up to a point.
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New ROOTs?

Post by haro » Wed Apr 27, 2005 11:29 am

Erik, 'Nylon' seems to be an absolute first at least in one respect. You said 'nyl-' is the prefix and '-on' is the suffix, so it must have been the very first word without a stem. Guess it would be too far off topic to search for other examples here.
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