Luke has designs on sprogs and earworms

Luke with his letterpress plate

Luke with his letterpress plate

First published in

HAVE you recently heard an earworm? Taken part in a nonversation? Or been for a sprog?

All three are ‘non-words’, which have been compiled by Wellington’s Luke Ngakane, who is studying graphic design at Kingston University.

Luke discovered that the Oxford University Press has a vault where it stores words that have been rejected for inclusion in the Oxford English Dictionary.

An earworm is ‘a catchy tune that frequently gets stuck in your head’; a nonversation is ‘a worthless conversation in which nothing of note is explained or otherwise elaborated upon’; sprog means ‘to go slower than a sprint but faster than a jog’.

Rejected words are saved and periodically revisited by the compilers.

Luke’s ‘Dictionary of Non Words’ was recently on display at Kingston University’s Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture’s Undergraduate Degree Show.

The dictionary’s letterpressed text was printed on a poster in a very faint shade of off-white, deliberately chosen by Luke to reflect the words’ shadowy status.

Luke spoke to the Oxford University Press and trawled internet forums to find the most useful ‘non-words’.

Luke’s favourite ‘non-word’ is polkadodge. “It’s that dance that occurs when two people attempt to pass each other but end up moving in the same direction,” he said. “It’s such a great word to use.”

Some more ‘non-words’ you may find useful:

headset jockey – a telephone call centre worker;

locavor – person who only eats locally grown or produced food;

vidiot – someone who is inept at the art of programming all modern video equipment.

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