Have you ever felt the need to create a new word?

Subject: Have you ever felt the need to create a new word?
From: "Kathy Bowman" <Kathy -dot- Bowman -at- saabsystems -dot- com -dot- au>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 24 Apr 2006 10:25:38 +0930

Have you ever felt the need to create a new word?

For example, in a military sense a target can be 'engageable', ie it is
able to be engaged. This leads to the term 'Engageability' on a screen,
meaning that it is (or is not or will be) able to be engaged. The screen
could show "Ability to be engaged' or 'Able to be engaged' but there is
limited room and we are stuck with 'Engageability'.

So, as a technical writer the fun begins because 'engageable' and
'engageability' are not recognised in any of the English dictionaries we
use. I think the words were coined by my Swedish colleagues who saw
constructs like 'enlargeable' and decided 'engageable' was equally

My approach is to accept that English changes, and to use the new words
where necessary as if they are recognised and valid English words. I
have sent the details to the Macquarie Distionary who have an 'Add a
word' process, but they have yet to surface in their dictionary.

In the meantime, I have a trainer who won't use a 'made-up' word and is
doing back-flips to avoid using either 'engageable' or 'engageability'
in his training documentation.

Do you think my approach has merit? I'd be interested in your thoughts.


Kath Bowman

Technical Writer
Saab Systems
21 Third Avenue
Mawson Lakes
Adelaide SA 5095


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