Friday, August 22, 2008

Call me the treasurer because I'm in the business of coining

In The Stuff of Thought, Steven Pinker lays out a model for why some words catch on and others don't. The key factors are frequency, unobtrusiveness, diversity of users and situations, generation of other forms and meanings, and endurance of the concept.

Frequency, diversity, endurance, and generation of other forms are what happens when the word is successful, but they won't help you actually coin the word. So the main factor we are left with is unobtrusiveness. This means that the word can't be too cute, and can't be too long.

I'm not sure how much this academic stuff will help us to name the phenomenon described in "obligation bankruptcy," but it can't hurt, right?

And here are my next two suggestions: ingrown planning and dragging the anchor. I don't want to explain them because they ought to be fairly intuitive.

Let's brainstorm this, Seth Godin style. Throw some ideas out there, if nobody likes it we can toss them right back, no harm done.