Is "curiouser," in fact, a word?
(Yes, this question is very short, but that's really all I need to ask.)
Today's description is tomorrow's prescription. Italian is really really poor Latin (which of course is really really poor something-that-came-before-it), and at the same time each has its rulebook.
'Curiouser' was malformed at the time Lewis Carroll coined it, and that's part of the linguistic humor of it. 'Chortle' was also one of his neologisms and nowadys I think it is accepted as a 'real word.
As to 'curiouser' I think currently it still sounds strange (because of the (non-prescriptive) inherent English rule that in general multisyllabic adjectives get their comparative via 'more X' rather than 'Xer'. But if you repeat it enough (and others repeat it enough), it may become more standard.
So in SE standards/culture, using 'curiouser' might be coonsidered a bit too ... informal.
Not quite, apart from in the specific phrase “curiouser and curiouser”, taken from Alice in Wonderland. Lewis Carroll was playing with language there.
The -er ending is almost never used with words of more than two syllables: so eg more beautiful, more curious, not usually ?beautifuller, ?curiouser.
Edit: the OED agrees — it doesn’t list curiouser as a word or a form of curious, but does list curiouser and curiouser as a phrase.
In Standard English, this is not a properly formed word; the standard form is "more curious".
As a general principle, the comparative -er suffix attaches to monosyllabic words, and more is preferred with polysyllabic words, so even though a word like curiouser is readily understood, it has an odd quality to it — this is the reason.
According to the OED, the word curiouser was coined by Lewis Carroll in Alice in Wonderland in 1865, as the phrase "curiouser and curiouser". In fact, the OED cites this phrase only, and does not treat curiouser as a word unto itself; the phrase has the meaning "increasingly strange". With this in mind, you might be able to justify the use of the entire phrase in a formal context (depending on your audience).
Addendum: Let me just state (for the record) that if you are wondering if this would be considered a word in the pure linguistic sense (rather than in Standard English), then I think that most linguists would say yes; it probably has been around long enough and is well-established enough to be considered a word.
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It is because Lewis Caroll says it is:
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