How do new words arise in a language? Are they even legitimate? Does usage make a new word suddenly acceptable to the dictionary?
A hot question is now spreading through the internet – is Sarah Palin’s neologism ‘refudiate’ (coined on 18 July on Twitter) a legitimate word? It has already received 38,200 citations on Google even as I type (and will now become 3,201!). She claims every right to coin words like this (which is actually a portmanteau of refute and repudiate), since English is a living language and even Shakespeare was not above coining new words. In her case, she uses this word to more or less mean denying legitimacy to a proposal (it is used in the context of asking New Yorkers to reject the building pf a religious structure).
On the web, refudiate has stirred controversy, as dictionary-makers take sides on whether popular usage allows for legitimacy or not. Should dictionaries be merely descriptive, or act as protectors of the language? Keep an ear open, the debate isn’t over yet!