Two new words for brand new concepts have appeared on the scene this week, but that is the only thing that links them. What is interesting about them is how they are at almost opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to the objects for which they have been coined.
First out of the blocks was the Hyperloop, the name of a putative high-speed link of the future between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Proposed by entrepreneur Elon Musk, the Hyperloop would place passengers in a vehicle which is propelled along a tube at enormous speeds, covering the distance between the two cities in half an hour.
Will this ever happen? At this stage, who can say, meaning that Hyperloop may be a word of much discussion in 2013, but could have absolutely no linguistic future because the thing which it describes may never exist. Of course if it does, Londoners undertaking tube travel may become very jealous of the version of tube travelling happening 8,000 miles away.
The nature of this word is diametrically opposed to Olinguito, which has also been unveiled this week. The Olinguito is a newly identified carnivore living in cloud forests in South America, the first newly named carnivore in 35 years.
So we have something that doesn’t exist with a name, and something which has always existed but has never had a name up to now. Both are great new words of this year. Something man-made versus something natural.
I suspect that the one which has had to wait much longer for recognition will be the one that makes it through to full lexical recognition,