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Made-up Words

July 8, 2013

Some months ago I entered a competition for ‘Made-up Words.’ The brief was to write 100 words in either poetry or prose, either about a word made up for the competition or one made-up by others during the course of time. I chose to use the word ‘jigga,’ inherited by my family from their Scandinavian ancestors and to write about it in prose. Here is my entry:
My family are guardians of a shepherd’s score passed down by word of mouth. These oral heirlooms for counting sheep and rows of knitting connect us through time and place to sheep farmers and fisher folk with Viking roots.
They also track our ancestors back to North American Indians whose counting systems echo similar sounds.
My favourite number is jigga (twenty). In written form it changes from dale to dale to jiggit, jigget, giggot, and gigot – French for a leg of lamb – and so back to the Normans who descended from another branch of the Scandinavian tree.

Have you ever thought of trying to trace your roots through following the etymology of words and phrases used by yourself and your relatives? Following the historical sources for the formation and usage of a word could reveal links you had never previously thought of.
There were over 400 entries for the made-up words competition. The winning entry, and indeed all shortlisted entries were poems which will be released in the near future from English PEN.
If you cannot identify words and phrases in your vocabulary which have descended through the generations, you might like to start a trend by creating a made-up word for use in your family circle.

  1. This was interesting! Thanks for sharin! Good luck number in the competition!

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