Friday, September 10, 2004

The endangered spokes-fembot

People make up new words--or "neologisms"--all the time, even people who aren't the President. Making up words is a basic part of human creativity, though most new words don't catch on at all. (Though if they catch on a little, they might end up on this great website).

Almost all new words are indeed D.O.A., but if I see 'em and like 'em, I try to extend their life just a bit in this blog. Today's word of the day is something I think I read last year in one of Gregg Easterbrook's terrific Tuesday Morning Quarterback columns: "spokes-fembot." I can't remember the context at all, and since Easterbrook tends to discuss Star Trek, the environment, and mutant fish in his "football" column, I'm not surprised I've forgotten. But "spokes-fembot" is a great word, and it was created in the way most new words are made: by combining other words. Just as the Prez combined "misunderstand" and "underestimate" to make "misunderestimate," "spokes-fembot" is a compound word and an amusing concept.

Let's look at the parts of this word. "Spokes-" seems to naturally lend itself to making goofy words; I just Googled and found examples of "spokesmonkey," "spokesvampire," "spokesferret," "spokesmartian," "spokesmonster," "spokescrab," "spokesdoofus," "spokesdude," and "spokesdipshit." I don't know the history of "fembot"--a great compound in its own right--but I think Frank Zappa had something to do with it, and I believe there is an exploding fembot in one of the Austin Powers movies. Are the female robots in The Stepford Wives fembots in a technical sense? Is Buffy the Vampire Slayer's Buffybot a fembot? I have no idea, but if anyone out there really knows their fembots, I'd love to be enlightened.

In any case, I wonder who a "spokes-fembot" speaks for? Would she/it speak for her/its proud/homicidal army/nation of fembots? Or would a "spokes-fembot" be a bubbleheaded drone, a stainless-steel, lonely-person-product-type male fantasy controlled by some programmer dude? Further research is needed. In any case, if you can help keep this word alive, you'll preserve vocabulary diversity and possibly pave the way for a terrifying future at the same time.

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