Sniglet

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A sniglet is a type of neologism[not verified in body] popularized by comedian Rich Hall during his tenure on the 1980s HBO comedy series Not Necessarily the News.[not verified in body] Each monthly episode features a regular segment on sniglets, which Hall described as "any word that doesn't appear in the dictionary, but should."[1] Possibly originating in a game devised by author Douglas Adams and British comedy producer John Lloyd,[verification needed] sniglets were generated and published in significant number, along with submissions by fans, in several books, beginning with Hall's Sniglets, Sniglets for Kids, and More Sniglets in the mid-1980s.

Examples[edit]

  • Aquadextrous: possessing the ability to turn the bathtub faucet with the toes.[2]
  • Castcapers: dead actors who appear on television.[3]
  • Chwads: discarded gum found beneath tables and countertops.[2]
  • Flopcorn: the unpopped kernels left in a bag of microwave popcorn.
  • Glutetic chair: the chair design found in movie theaters.[2]
  • Jokesult: When someone insults you, you call them on it, and they say, "It was just a joke."
  • Larry: a frayed toothbrush.[3]
  • Napjerk: a sudden convulsion of the body just before falling asleep.[2]
  • Premblememblemation: The act of checking that a letter is in a mailbox after it has been dropped.[2]
  • Profanitype: symbols used by cartoonists to replace swear words.[2]
  • Snorfing: That game waiters & waitresses love to play by asking you if there's anything else they can get you while your mouth is full.
  • Toboggan hagen: a large ice cream sundae.[3]

Hall collections[edit]

In 1984, a collection of sniglets was published by Hall, titled Sniglets (snig' lit: any word that doesn't appear in the dictionary, but should).[1] This was followed by a "daily comic panel" in newspapers, four more books, a game, and a calendar.[4] Many sniglets are portmanteau words, a comedic style often traced to Lewis Carroll.[citation needed]

The Hall books have their entries arranged in alphabetical order like a dictionary, with information on how to pronounce the word, followed by a definition, and sometimes accompanied by an illustration.[citation needed] The original book has two appendices, "Anatomical Sniglets" and "Extra Added Bonus Section for Poets", and More Sniglets includes an "Audio-Visual Sniglets" section.[citation needed] All five books included an "Official Sniglets Entry Blank", beginning, "Dear Rich: Here's my sniglet, which is every bit as clever as any in this dictionary."[citation needed]

The Game of Sniglets is a board game in which players tried to identify the "official" sniglet from among a list that also included sniglets that fellow participants had created to go along with a provided definition.[5] Players earn points by either guessing which word is the "official" sniglet, or by having their word chosen as the best candidate; the points earned determine how many spaces players can advance on the game board. The game instructions offer suggestions for creating a new sniglet, such as combining or blending words; changing the spelling of a word related to the definition; or creating new, purely nonsensical words.[5]

Origin[edit]

Humor writer Paul Jennings had published made-up meanings of real place-names in a 1963 essay appearing in The Jenguin Pennings.[citation needed][relevant? ] Author Douglas Adams, while travelling with British comedy producer John Lloyd, suggested they play a game he had learned at school in which players were challenged to make up plausible word definitions for place names taken from road maps; the definitions they came up with were later incorporated into a 1983 book, The Meaning of Liff.[citation needed] The similarities and relationship between the content of this book and the Hall concept of sniglets is noted by Barbara Wallraff, in Word Court (2001).[6] When the format of Lloyd's satirical TV show Not the Nine O'Clock News was sold to America—where it became Not Necessarily the News—the producers also took the made-up word definition concept, which became the sniglets popularized by Hall.[7]

In popular culture[edit]

In a 1990 interview, Hall was asked if the "Sniglets books [were] completely for comic value?" He answered,

Yeah. Well, no. I wouldn't say they're completely for comic value. I mean, I get letters from schools all the time saying how they've incorporated a sniglet book into their reading program. You can look at a lot of the words and sort of break them down into their etymological origins. And you can learn a lot about how and where words derive from. When you assign this frailty of human nature a word, then the word has to work. It has to either be a hybrid of several other words, or have a Latin origin, or something.[8]

Anne Wescott Dodd's A Handbook for Substitute Teachers (1989)[9] and Marcia L. Tate's Reading and Language Arts Worksheets Don't Grow Dendrites: 20 Literacy Strategies That Engage the Brain (2005)[10] suggest creating sniglets as a classroom activity, and so bear out his claim.

Popular English language experts such as Richard Lederer and Barbara Wallraff have noted sniglets in their books, The Miracle of Language[11] and Word Court: Wherein Verbal Virtue Is Rewarded, Crimes Against the Language Are Punished, and Poetic Justice Is Done,[6] respectively. The idea has been borrowed by Barbara Wallraff for her book Word Fugitives: In Pursuit of Wanted Words", where "word fugitives" is her term for invented words.[12] Wallraff's Atlantic Monthly column "Word Fugitives"[13] features words invented by readers, although they had to be puns, which many sniglets are not.[citation needed]

Homer Simpson, a fictional television character in the animated series The Simpsons created by Matt Groening, suggests Son of Sniglet as a good book to name as a favorite and a life influence on a college application in the episode "Homer Goes to College".[14]

The fictional character Dale Gribble in the animated television series King of the Hill explains his inappropriate laughter at upon successfully sabotaging a new relationship of fellow character Bill Dauterive, saying "just remembered a funny sniglet!"[15] The satirical newspaper, The Onion, published an article in 2001 mocking Sniglets as an obscure fad.[16]

Bibliography[edit]

Rich Hall released several volumes of collected sniglets, illustrated by Arnie Ten:

  • Hall, Rich (1984). Sniglets (snig'lit): Any Word That Doesn't Appear in the Dictionary, but Should. Illustrated by Arnie Ten. New York, NY: Macmillan. ISBN 0020125305. 
  • Sniglets for Kids. 1985. ISBN 0899543979. [full citation needed]
  • Hall, Rich (1985). More Sniglets (snig'lit): Any Word That Doesn't Appear in the Dictionary, but Should. Illustrated by Arnie Ten. New York, NY: Macmillan. ISBN 0020125607. 
  • Hall, Rich (1986). Unexplained Sniglets of the Universe (snig'lit): Any Word That Doesn't Appear in the Dictionary, but Should. Illustrated by Arnie Ten. New York, NY: Macmillan. ISBN 002040400X. 
  • Hall, Rich (1987). Angry Young Sniglets (snig'lit): Any Word That Doesn't Appear in the Dictionary, but Should. Illustrated by Arnie Ten. New York, NY: Macmillan. ISBN 002012600X. 
  • Hall, Rich (1989). Slichter, Ann; Tourk Lee, Pat, eds. When Sniglets Ruled the Earth (snig'lit): Any Word That Doesn't Appear in the Dictionary, but Should. Illustrated by Arnie Ten. New York, NY: Macmillan. ISBN 0020404417. 
  • Game of Sniglets (1990), OCLC 25494206.[full citation needed]
  • Sniglet a Day - 1994 Calendar (1993), ISBN 0836273796.[full citation needed]

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Hall, Rich (1984-01-01). Sniglets (snig'lit): any word that doesn't appear in the dictionary, but should. New York: Collier Books. ISBN 0020125402. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Hall, Rich (1984). Sniglets. 866 Third Avenue, New York, NY: Macmillian Publishing Company. ISBN 0-02-012530-5. 
  3. ^ a b c "Sniglets". www.astro.umd.edu. Retrieved 2016-08-12. 
  4. ^ Metcalf, Alan (2002). Predicting New Words: The Secrets of Their Success. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. p. 23. ISBN 0618130063. 
  5. ^ a b "The Game of Sniglets Playing Instructions" (PDF). Blippee.com. Retrieved 2016-04-06. 
  6. ^ a b Wallraff, Barbara (2001). Word Court: Wherein Verbal Virtue Is Rewarded, Crimes Against the Language Are Punished, and Poetic Justice Is Done. New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. p. 306. ISBN 0544109937. Retrieved 2 April 2016. 
  7. ^ Adams, Douglas & Pearlman, Gregg (1987-03-27). "Exclusive Interview With Douglas Adams (Author of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy)". 
  8. ^ Lerner, Reuven M. (1990-09-25). "An interview with Rich Hall". The Tech [MIT]. 110 (37): 10. 
  9. ^ Dodd, Anne (1989). A Handbook for Substitute Teachers. Springfield, Ill.: C.C. Thomas. ISBN 0398055394. 
  10. ^ Tate, Marcia (2005). Reading and Language Arts Worksheets Don't Grow Dendrites: 20 Literacy Strategies That Engage the Brain. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Corwin Press. ISBN 1412915104. 
  11. ^ Lederer, Richard (1999). The Miracle of Language. New York, N.Y.: Pocket Books. p. 58. ISBN 0671028111. 
  12. ^ Wallraff, Barbara (2006). Word Fugitives: In Pursuit of Wanted Words. New York, N.Y.: Harper. p. 5. ISBN 0060832738. 
  13. ^ "The Atlantic". Theatlantic.com. Retrieved 2016-04-06. 
  14. ^ Groening, Matt (1997). The Simpsons: A Complete Guide to Our Favorite Family. p. 122. ISBN 978-1435245471. 
  15. ^ "King of the Hill : Episode "Untitled Blake McCormack Project" (2008)". IMDb.com. Retrieved 2016-04-06. 
  16. ^ "Man Won't Stop Coming Up With New Sniglets" (print, online satire piece). The Onion. 37 (11). 2001-03-28. Retrieved 2016-04-06. 

External links[edit]