Sunday, March 6, 2016

A Kid In Italy Invented A New Word, Which Makes Me Happy

A petaloso moment in my St. Albans, Vermont
garden last summer. 
Language rules often don't make sense, and there's always a need for new words, in my opinion. Or at least revamped words.

For instance, I've always complained that you can have sunny days, but you can't have moony nights. Why? Must a night with a full moon in the sky be described as "moonlit?"  

What about butterflies? Shouldn't they be called flutterbys? After all, that's what they do.

This is why I found a soulmate in an elementary school kid in Italy. His name is Matteo, mine is Matt, so maybe that's a sign we have the same mentality.

What happened was, his teacher was mystified by a word Matteo used in a writing assignment. It was "petaloso."

It's an Italian word that doesn't really exist, at least not yet, in any Italian dictionary.

The word is a combination of "petalo," meaning petals with the suffix "-oso" meaning full of.

Matteo, 8, used the word "petaloso" when describing a flower that was full of petals. The word totally makes sense.

Matteo's teacher said his use of the word "petalolso" was wrong because the word, at least up until that point, didn't really exist. But next to her red "X" she wrote that Matteo made a "beautiful mistake."

I'll say.

Now, there's a drive to make the word "petaloso" an official word in the Italian dictionary. Hell, it belongs in English dictionaries, too, in my opinion.

The drive to make "petaloso" a word got an early boost when Matteo, with the help of us teacher, wrote to the Accademia delia Crusca, the institution that oversees the use of the Italian language, to ask for their opinion, reports the BBC.

The reply soon came from one of the Accademia leading linguists: "The word you invented is well formed and could be used in the Italian language..It is beautiful and clear.'

However, in order for a word to be a real part of the Italian language, a large proportion of the population must use it and understand its definition.

The linguist from the Accademia wrote Matteo: "If you manage to spread the word among many people who start saying, 'What a petaloso flower this is!', then petaloso will have become a word in Italian."

So Matteo and his teacher started spreading the word, and I'm happy to report "petaloso" has gone viral. The word has been used at least 80,000 times on Facebook and 40,000 on Twitter, says the BBC. 

As noted, I think "petaloso" should become a word in the English language, too. Many English words are derived from others in different languages, and this one would work, too.

Spring is just around the corner. My perennial gardens will soon (I hope!) explode with a wide variety of flowers. In other words, my gardens will be petaloso. It's a beautiful word that I hope to use  many more times in the future.

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