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A neologism, by definition, is probably not going to be as readily recognized or understood by a common speaker. However, they are (for the most part) created for a reason, and thus could see some use. However, I have noticed that, not unexpectedly, not everyone is a fan of them.

For example, I have heard an argument that neologisms like "far" are unecessary because "de", and its disambiguator "fare de", already exist and would work perfectly fine. The same argument could apply to words like "ĉipso" versus "terpomfingro". Is it really all that bad to invent words like these and these? Some of these do seem to show up in the PIV (like "far"), but not all of them, of course.

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Good question! You have to read La bona lingvo de Claude Piron! I think it is the answer to your question.

Here's what I think: it is not bad to create new roots. It's actually a part of the development of the language (and of any living the language).

And I cannot stress that enough; it's all about roots. And with them and the mechanics of the language, you build new composite words.

So, first you have to check if the language really cannot deal with the concept you want to express. Do you really need new roots such as: print/i (presi), adher/i (alglui), maĵori/o (plimulto)? Each time we add a root, we make the language more complicated for new learners and we lose part of the magic of the language.

Then, if Esperanto cannot accomodate the concept, you can go ahead find a suitable new root, start using it and hope it catches on. Please define it first. Don't simply copy it, the rest of the speakers will need a definition, even if it is obvious in the other language. So, if you decide to start using spojler/o` (English: spoiler) please say what you understand by it. Or use malkaŝaĵo/malkaŝumo or intrigmalkaŝo.

We are a community of speakers, not a bunch of linguists in a lab creating a new language. For certain gramatical aspects, if you really think Esperanto got it wrong ... it might be too late to "fix" it. The only way out would be another language or project: Ido, Interlingua, Europanto ... There are many really good options out there. And remember that long ago people flocked from Volapük al Esperanto, maybe we'll do the same from Esperanto to your new language!

Having read La bona lingvo you can then see what some people have been doing to try to keep Esperanto bona. This site lists neologisms that could be built from the existing elements in the language and, (because sometimes new roots are actually needed) a list of neologisms that they consider are actually needed.

Don't go too hard on them, some proposals are great, some not, the idea is to keep the language in a sane state. Take what works for you and consider collaborating if you feel like it.

Just think that if we add a neologism each time we cannot name an object, or express a nuance that we have in our mother tongues ... Esperanto would be an unusable monster.

To finish the answer: it is appropriate to add new roots every now and then, but we, as community of speakers from different backgrounds, should be careful about it. Just how careful? That's what will measure the appropriateness of a certain neologism for each one of us. It's pretty personal.

People at the Akademio de Esperanto do part of that work for us. They'll monitor new roots and, if they deem them appropriate, after some (not necessarily short) time they will make them official. That happens in batches (the small numbers written by certain roots in Esperanto dictionnaries).

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  • Though I say this half-jokingly, I find that it is too bad that there is no versioning system like Git for constructed languages. It would be cool to be able to submit proposals and pull requests therefor. This could be a more "unified" way, in which one can discover what other Esperantists would or would not like, or would or would not accept into [new] practice, in terms of "language extensions". – Mona the Monad Jan 9 at 14:52
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    Interesting. Anyway I have to say that for many of us Esperanto is not a work in progress, but a full-fledge language that we use to talk, dream, discuss, love, everyday, in our family. It simply works and I wish people would spend more time learning it and less trying to change it. Think about your mother tongue and how willing you would be to add, in your everyday usage at home with your family, new pronouns or prepositions or gramatical structures. It would feel weird, right? But I understand we are a minority of speakers and for many others it feels more like a linguistic playground... – Eduardo Trápani Jan 9 at 15:33
  • That sounds kind of appealing from a developer perspective but I’m not sure it would make sense for a language. There would need to be some sort of official authority who accepts new proposals or not. But unlike in software, if the proposal gets rejected, that can’t stop people just using it anyway, so it doesn’t seem like the git repo could actually have any control over the language. – Neil Roberts Jan 9 at 15:34
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I think this question doesn’t really have a yes-or-no answer. It would be impossible for the language to avoid neologisms entirely and new words will inevitably enter the language. Therefore there’s not really a single rule whether neologisms per se are bad and we have to look at each new word on a case by case basis. Of course this will largely boil down to a matter of opinion.

It is also worth making a distinction between different classes of words. Words such as ĉipso fall into the vast category of regular root words. This group is large and gets new words much more often. However, far would be a preposition which is a much smaller group and people would probably be a lot more cautious about accepting new words in it. That’s not to say that we should never add words to these categories, just that it needs a stronger reason. For example, the neologism ri is gaining popurality despite being a proposal for the very small and rigid group of pronouns.

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