Though the competition of games heightens the stakes, making up words comes naturally to us, says linguist Suzanne Kemmer of Rice University. English in particular is a linguistic melting pot. “We have a funny history where people came over in waves, and we’ve gotten used to taking words from other languages,” she said. That openness has made us creative about breaking down words and reassembling their parts.
Perhaps it’s time to create a new game where the rules are the exact opposite. Call it Alice’s Wordland. Any word would be fair game—except the ones that can be found in a dictionary.
Ada Brunstein is a senior acquisitions editor for an academic press and a freelance writer. She can be reached at email@example.com.