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A 'Self-Scruncher' Captures Neologistic Glory

by Bob Levey

Linda L. Jones was born Linda Landis. Then she faced the problem that all women face before they waltz down the aisle.

Who will emerge? Linda Maiden Name? Linda His Name? Linda Hyphenated? Linda Her-Plus-Him, but without Hyphens?

Linda decided on a fifth option. She became what she has been ever since – her first name, her maiden initial, his last name. That dose of self-scrunching put her in grand position to win the May installment of our monthly neologism contest – which she has just done.

Like about 3,000 fellow wordsmiths, Linda took aim at the May challenge, which was:

Jane Doe marries Ken Smith. She decides, from that moment forward, to be known as Jane Doe Smith (three words, no hyphens). But the world won't let Jane Doe Smith happen. Everywhere she goes, she gets "scrunched" into Jane Smith, for the sake of brevity and speed. This "scrunching" of Jane's middle name is called...

Linda's winning coinage:

Shelipsis.

What a neat welding of "she" to "ellipsis," those periods that replace a word or hunk of text!

Former champ Roger Gilkeson of Northwest Washington submitted the same word, but several days after Linda. Under our rules, he gets a silver medal, but no more. Keep trying, Roger.

Our winner is a likely candidate for neologistic success for two reasons.

One, she's a professional writer and editor (for the Federal Register). Two, she commutes by train each weekday between Martinsburg, W.Va., where she lives, and downtown Washington, where she works. All that train time gives Linda a chance to clear her head – and then focus it on such natural wonders as books, crossword puzzles and Levey's monthly make-up-a- word contest.

Linda has lived in West Virginia all her life. She was born in Marlowe, a tiny town near Williamsport, Md., and grew up there. She received an English degree from Shepherd College. She edits documents and regulations that might become standard procedure in the federal government.

Linda calls her Martinsburg-Washington double life "the best of both worlds." She loves Martinsburg "because it's quiet, peaceful, I can see the stars." She loves D.C. for its verve and vigor.

Yet she will soon leave both. She retires July 31, and she plans to move to Montana. During our victory lunch, at America in Union Station, I made her swear to keep up with this column via the Internet, and to keep entering this contest. She said yes to both. I say yes to her entry. A classic!

This month's Almosts and Nearlies were pretty classic themselves. They were:

Ellelision: Former champ John O'Byrne of Dublin.

Dis-ma'am-ber-ment: Dick Pawlowski of Columbia.

Missmash: Mary Hornsby of Normandy Park, Wash., and P.J. Siegel of Greenbelt.

Nee-capped: Bill Hubbard first, a dozen more later.

Thriage: Karen Kenworthy.

Nixneeming: Sally Sims Stokes of Silver Spring.

Larcenee: Jan Verrey.

Neeletion: Former champ Tom Witte of Gaithersburg.

Ampu-Name-Tion: Eugenia E. Gratto.

Patronymizing: Sandra Segal of Rockville.

Wediting: Heather Gourley-Thompson, then 11 others.

Nomannul: Former champ Cathy Smith Caviness of Clifton.

Choppellation: Tom Witte again.

Nee-Jerk: Stephanie Nolan of Waldorf was the first of 114 (!) to submit this one.

Ex-you-sionary: Recent champ Sidney Secular of Silver Spring.

Nomensuction: Adam Bailey.

Scrappellation: Mitchell Goldman.

Maiden Voidage: Gray and Kristin Fontenot of Falls Church.

Nomenslayture: Beth and Rachel Miller.

Nameculling: Dian McDonald of Alexandria.

Ab-nee-gation: Last month's champ, Wendy C. Leyes of Chevy Chase.

O-Ms.-sion: Linda Early.

Mid-Wife Crisis: Ralph Dannheiser of Silver Spring.

Spurname: Jenny and Nathaniel Parker, and Don Gatling of Gaithersburg.

Altaration: Nancy Miller Ferris of Alexandria and (with a similar form) Marc LeGoff of Northwest Washington.

Name-Cropping: Recent champ Loren Booda of Arlington.

Mrsnomer: Edith and Alan Stein of Silver Spring, then 10 others.

Nee-visceration: Wade Mayonado of Leonardtown, Md.

Nomenclerasure: Susan Payne.

And Appellectomy: Scott Gilkeson.

Very nice work, one and all.

Let's mosey along to the June challenge, which is:

Your cleaning lady is expected within an hour – thank heavens, because your place is a wreck. But what do you do right before she arrives? You pick up, straighten up, wash a few dishes. Cleaning up before the cleaning lady arrives to clean up is called... (Click to see winning entries)

First prize, as always, is a free lunch, at a restaurant of the winner' s choice, in or sanely near Washington.

Contest rules: You may enter as often as you like, on one piece of paper or several. Joint entries are welcome. So are entries submitted by fax (202-334-5150) or e-mail leveyb@washpost.com. Entries must bear day and evening phone numbers, including area code(s). All entries become my property. Entries will not be accepted by phone or returned. In case of duplicate winning entries, I'll choose the one I receive first.

Please mail entries to Bob Levey, The Washington Post, Washington, D.C. 20071. Entries for the June contest must be received by June 28.

© 2002 Bob Levey (leveyb@washpost.com).
This article is reproduced with the kind permission of the author.


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