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The term protologism, (derived from the Greek protos, first + Greek logos, word; compare prototype, neologism) is a term invented by Mikhail Epstein of Emory University to refer to a newly created and proposed word which has not yet gained acceptance. As the inventor characterizes it, "It is a prototype or a hypothetical projection of a new lexical unit before it may become current in writing or speech." The word "protologism" itself is in regular use within the Wiktionary community, and is thus not a "hypothetical projection." It does not, however, appear to be regularly used outside this context. It might be better characterized as jargon.
A commercial venture related to such "words that should be words" and which popularized them were the books called "Sniglets" (by Rich Hall and Friends). Some have used this term to popularize their own 'should-be' words. However, these seem to have been generally confined to purposes of humor. There are other existing projects for gathering such speculative words. This page is merely another.
In contrast to protologisms, neologisms are words that have already been in public usage by authors other than their inventors. As soon as a protologism finds its way into newspapers and websites, journals and books, it becomes a neologism and merits a separate Wiktionary entry.
Wiktionary discourages the writing of separate articles for protologisms.
Criteria for Inclusion:Edit
Protologisms listed here should meet an expressive need, follow some logic in their etymology, follow standards of spelling, intonation, and pronunciation in the language, and should be ideally "catchy" enough to have a chance of gaining wider acceptance. They should not already be in use for other purposes. A protologism is usually a completely new word, not a new sense of an existing word. Nevertheless, it is to be expected that some protologisms will inadvertently result in a new definition for an otherwise obscure word, or, in a multilingual dictionary such as this, conflict with an identically spelled word in an other language.
This page should afford everyone the opportunity to see words they have wanted to use to express a concept or logical device come into existence (and possibly more widespread use) and be shared among those interested in general in new word ideas or those wishing to only monitor on their "watchlist" changes to neologisms for a certain topic in which they are interested.
Protologisms should only be listed here, and not given their own articles. By similar logic, existing pages should not refer to protologisms, though of course definitions of protologisms must refer back to existing words. Where a word has both a normal meaning and a protologistic one it will suffice to add a "see also" link to this page.
Reasons for Protologism ListingEdit
By consensus it has become policy to not include protologisms in the dictionary proper. The purpose of the Wiktionary is to define and translate "all words in all languages", not to create new ones. Just as Wikipedia strives towards a Neutral Point of View, it is the goal of Wiktionary to describe language as it exists and has existed in the world, not to correct it or make suggestions. But Wiktionary should describe new words as people actually use them. It is not always easy to distinguish between a protologism and a legitimate word. For instance, some words may not qualify under the criteria for inclusion, but be used by small cliques. To avoid conflict and due to uncertainty of the legitimacy of some words, a listing of protologisms becomes necessary.