Words, words, words…

alternative word book

by Richard Hanrahan

Words. You can’t live with them, and you can’t live without them – or can you?

When many people hear that I have been working on a dictionary, their first reaction is always the same:

Other Person: Hello
Me: Hello you. How are you?
Other Person: Alright. How are you?
Me: I too am alright (neglecting to discuss both my inner turmoil and my visibly broken arm)
Other Person: What have you been up to?
Me: I’ve been working on a new dictionary
Other Person: (confused pause) Don’t you know there already is a dictionary?
Me: Yes.

It astounds me that people seem to believe that I would go so far as to start writing a dictionary without being aware that other dictionaries already exist. As a writer, it is always important to read around your subject area and try to find your place within the growing canon of literature that already exists. If you were to want to create a work within the “teen horror/lust” genre, one would have to at least take a look at Marabella Lamon’s “Twilight Destiny”, Alfred C. Bustlicker’s incredible “The Nightlife of Leafton” series, Brian Bunktift’s lacklustre but ever popular “The Crystal Fuckdragons” and of course J.R.Tifkin’s original “The Wicked Funky Pixie Diaries” – which does not feel like it was written in the 1920s at all. To not do so would be literally literary suicide.

And so it is the same for all writing – anyone who is writing a new dictionary would clearly look at other dictionaries to see what current trends are. Although, I am regretful that I haven’t actually read the original from cover to cover, it still would be impossible to start such an endeavour without at least browsing the Amazon reviews for Webster’s Dictionaries (Amazon user defines Webster’s dictionary as: “Impossible to put down – sticky cover” 2 stars). After all, how would I even know what a dictionary was if I hadn’t thought to check.* So yes, I know that there already is a dictionary out there.

But why then do we need a new dictionary? My writing isn’t simply an addendum to an already overly saturated market – mine is a collection of new and alternative words which are not currently being permitted into these “official” guides, reference books to our own language. That we still have gatekeepers to our own tongues is frankly, absurd. But because they exist, it is necessary to find our own means to publish and share what we already know: to function finally, as free.

Some words are simply inadequate. The most obvious example is onomatopoeia, which means a words which describes a word which is spelt as it sounds. While beautiful on page, it clearly could not be thought to be sufficient for the purpose. Similarly, many frequent googlers may be aware that sesquipidaliaphobia allegedly describes the fear of long words, but I am yet to see that confirmed by sesquipidaliaphobia-etymologists, and few within the sesquipidaliaphobic community seem willing to return my correspondance on the matter.

Other times in my life, there are situations that require new words. Thoughts, feelings, emotions or simply situations that cannot be adequately absorbed or understood without their own word to define them must be expelled in some way – and many of the words in this collection attempt to do this. Why only the other day I was quantrapolising a fusset only to have my dingle acumbled, worryingly.

In other cases too, I need to authenticate previous typos in my life in an effort to raise my grades that were unnecessarily marked down because, and I quote “that isn’t a word”. Well who isn’t a word now, dickwart!

But the real reason for this guide is political. At a time when the government is tightening its purse strings, forcing extra helpings of austerity down our gullters. Our own anger is inadequate when these ideas are so well trodden – people won’t listen to you when you tell them you are “angry at the pigs” as much as if you were “snared off by the spitwits”.

In this age, we need new words now more than ever, even if simply as a means to limit police clamping down on grammar dodgers and word deniers.

This isn’t simply a book of words – this is a catalogue of our own destiny.

All politics aside however, there is another reason. In other cases, I just like nonsense.

They say sticks and stones may break my phones, but words will never hurt me. Why then do I get so upset with the preset dictionary that comes preloaded on my smartphone?

The ball is well and truly in your court, world.


My book “the alternative wordbook” is available, for free, in the following ways:

The E-book can be downloaded from the widget on my website with any donation (including free) from http://akatemika.org/books – suggested donation, £3.

The Audiobook will also available soon for a “pay-what-you-like” fee, including exclusive audio-only chapters, from thehitch.bandcamp.com and includes the e-book with every download. Suggested Donation – £5.

If you have enjoyed this or anything else I have done – please share and enjoy.

A limited run of the physical book – including illustrations by the superb Theo Cleary – is available by contacting me directly, finding me after gigs, or else for purchase on my bandcamp page.

*for the reason that the word “dictionary” requires you to know what it is to know how to look up its meaning, my version will be christened with a new, and far less convoluted or self-defeating, description: “The Alternative Wordbook”.