Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I tried communicationally, but the Free Dictionary doesn’t find it to be a word.

What I am trying to express is that someone is communicationally challenged, basically meaning they can’t communicate very well.

share|improve this question
4  
And what is wrong with "poor communicator?" Does the language need this sort of cruft? –  ncmathsadist Dec 10 '12 at 16:00
    
@ncmathsadist: Cruft is a new one on me! I've just found out what it means, but I'm prompted to ask for more info –  FumbleFingers Dec 10 '12 at 20:17
    
Don't be afraid to create neologisms using the standard rules of adding prefixes, suffixes, and infixes to standard words. As Barrie says, though, communicationally challenged is sardonic because all such PC-like terms are inherently parodistic and snarky. You've got to be a cynic to use them with effect and a turkey to believe that they mean what they seem to say (viz., I'm being kind and inoffensive here because I'm using a euphemism for inarticulate and, probably, stupid). –  user21497 Dec 10 '12 at 21:09
add comment

4 Answers 4

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Just because a term does not appear in this or that dictionary does not make it “not a word”. For one thing, the “Free Dictionary” falls short of being an accepted standard in the English language.

But for another, productive affixes like un- and -ly can be applied to virtually any word from the target class to produce a perfectly viable new word. So even if you were using a little dictionary that happened to be missing an headword for something like unceremoniously, no one would ever question it if you used it.

So with your particular case of

  • communicate > communication
  • communication > communicational
  • communicational > communicationally

you certainly you could do so. However, whether you should be creating such septasyllabic monsters is something else again; you might well want to use a longer phrase here instead.

You could just say they don’t communicate well, or that they’re poor communicators. All those, and many others, seem an improvement over the ponderous communicationally challenged.

share|improve this answer
2  
[Adverb] + challenged is usually used with sardonic intent in a way that the alternatives aren’t. –  Barrie England Dec 10 '12 at 16:19
add comment

The most recent citation for communicationally

adv. as regards communication; in respect of communications

…in my copy of the OED is in the context of communicationally challenged:

2004 Daily Tel. (Sydney) (Nexis) 14 June 19 : Mind you, if men weren't so communicationally challenged we women might not be driven to such drastic measures.

This is probably no coincidence, since it is a snug fit with the snowclone pattern:

[problem area]-ly challenged

Depending on the context, though, you may also have the choice of using the word communicatively:

adv. In a communicative manner; by means of communication; as regards communication

Notice that there is quite a bit of overlap in the definitions of the two words, and this form is 16 times more common than communicationally in the COCA. Ngrams shows a similar disparity:

Google Ngram of communicationally vs. communicatively

share|improve this answer
    
@jwpat7 hmm, I thought I set it up so clicking the picture would take you to the ngram page, is it not working? Edit: I added a link in the text just in case. –  Cameron Dec 10 '12 at 20:25
    
The picture link looks ok – I didn't notice it before but now am unable to reproduce the problem :) –  jwpat7 Dec 10 '12 at 20:28
add comment

The Wiktionary has an entry for communicationally.

But if you want another word, incommunicable means "who does not communicate freely".

The post was tagged "adverbs", but "communicationally challenged" as a whole is an adjective, and "incommunicable" is an adjective.

share|improve this answer
add comment

There is an entry for communicationally in the Oxford English Dictionary with the definition 'as regards communication; in respect of communications.'

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.