Saturday, August 14, 2010


Despite the fact that it appears in, for example, the Urban Dictionary, and that there is a blog of that name, the word “nonversation” is not an official word. Not, that is, according to the editors of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED). The editors review submissions of neologisms, and weigh up whether the word is in use enough to admit it into the hallowed pages of the OED. According to a recent article in the UK’s Daily Telegraph, “nonversations” didn’t make it.
Part of the definition of "conversation" in the online OED

A nonversation is “a worthless conversation, wherein nothing is explained or otherwise elaborated upon”.
I think the OED editors are right. I think a nonversation is, for the most part, a non-concept. It’s well-known that people who are madly in love tend to say little, and explain less. Are their near-silent conversations worthless?
Who’s to judge the worth of a conversation anyway? Most of the conversations I have on Facebook are of little import, but they’re not worthless because they provide a welcome respite from the general seriousness of work.
Besides, nonversation is an ugly word, a portmanteau word which is as unnecessary as it is unattractive. If you really do think a conversation was worthless, why not call it a worthless conversation?

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