For example, if I took the Russian word "Toska" and transposed into an English word "tosk (pronounced as "təʊsk") and created such words and phrases as "toskful", "tosk-stricken", "toskfulness", "to tosk", "tosk-inducing", "toskfully", "toskless", "tosklessly", "to make someone toskful", "in a state of tosk" etc., how would I go about getting it into dictionaries so that people could look it up?

Are there any procedures/rules that specify how to borrow words from other languages that either don't exist/are obsolete or not productive in the target language.

P.S. Here are a few examples of usage:

  1. Marry has been staying in bed, in an obvious state of tosk, if you ask me, for a few days now. I think, you should stop by her place sometime soon. I reckon, it might really cheer her up... a bit.

  2. Little Garry was a truly toskless child. There was not a day that he would wear a frown on his face. He was always so full of vim and vigor and you'd never find him languishing at home in fair weather.

  3. I don't know, man, she seemed a bit depressed, nay, toskful. I think, she still hasn't recovered from her son's death. She just needs more time to finally turn over a new leaf, I trow.

  4. Have you ever felt a feeling of alienation, as if you didn't belong? Or have you ever encountered a feeling of apathy or ennui, had everything and yet felt like there was something missing, but you just couldn't put your finger on it? Have you ever been listless and wistful? Have you ever pined and longed for something more, but you didn't know exactly what it was? Have you ever missed someone or something dearly? Have you ever been heartsick or downcast? Have you ever felt like you were in a rut or doldrums? Well, if you've ever felt any of the above then you know what toskfulness feels like firsthand.

  • 3
    This was an amusing question (I like your examples, they're very emotive). I don't really know how anyone can give a good answer to your question, though. The English language is not officially defined; there is no process you have to go through to introduce a foreign word. You're free to use it whenever and however you like; it getting into the dictionary is just a sign that a certain number of other people have started using it too. What way is the most "proper" is mostly a matter of opinion. – herisson Oct 25 '15 at 6:22
  • If the word or its derivation is already well-known, you can follow the de facto convention. If you want to invent a new word, maybe you'd better leave a footnote to explain that, and, if it's really a great one, it will be accepted by other people and listed in the dictionary some day. – Stan Oct 25 '15 at 6:32
  • People don't seem to cotton to footnotes well.... Most people who read my short stories complained that there were a lot of words (and by that I mean 24 words and almost all of them were derived from Middle English) which they couldn't find in a dictionary. My initial idea was to attach a glossary to every story, and the reason behind my posting this question is that I wanted to see what others might throw in the idea pot. – user74809 Oct 25 '15 at 6:41
  • You can use any word you like in a story, as long as it's properly introduced. A short version of any of your examples should do the trick. But give up on getting it into the dictionary (in your lifetime). That's a vainglorious and probably vain ambition. You might get lucky, like Heinlein with grok google.com/search?q=grok+etymology , but there's little you can do to influence whether your neologism will catch on. – Brian Hitchcock Oct 25 '15 at 8:05
  • 1
    You, personally, cannot get it put into dictionaries. That happens when lots of people use it repeatedly. Maybe a poor second choice would be to put a page on your own web site with the definition, so that Google searches would find it. Perhaps more and more word searches are done by Google, rather than by looking in a particular dictionary. – GEdgar Oct 25 '15 at 13:43

If I understand you correctly, you want to use certain foreign words for atmosphere in texts about a foreign culture, but introduce them only using the show, don't tell method and use them absolutely freely as if they were English words. This sounds like an effective tool when writing a text in English that gives the impression of representing an original text written in whatever language the foreign words come from. But then, I suppose, some readers feel it reflects badly on them if they don't know every word in the dictionary, and so upon discovering it's not actually there they feel that you cheated them into feeling inferior.

It appears to me that this question might be a better fit for Writers SE, but I'll try to answer anyway.

One possible explanation I can think of would be if this is basically the only tool you are using, so that overall the result is not sufficiently immersive. To stay in your example, if the text doesn't feel like it is written in Russian, then tossing around tosk and a few other (real or imaginary) Russian words won't change this on its own. In this case you may have to do something more fundamental such as often putting adjectives in positions unusual. Also learn about some basic differences in the underlying cultural assumptions and make sure they are relevant to your text and everyone notices. E.g., for Dostoyevsky-era Russian, I would try to use patronymics (thus having three different ways of addressing everyone) just enough to make people think of Dostoyevsky, but only with appropriate safeguards to prevent it from becoming confusing.

And then you could still choose a less literal interpretation of the show, don't tell principle. Make sure that when you introduce the word tosk, or very soon afterwards, it is made explicit as a word describing a speciality of the culture in question. Here is an ad hoc example combining these ideas (rather inexpertly, I am afraid):

Not for first time, Alexander Alexeyevitch Alexandrov pondered curious status of tosk as only subject about which Father Tolstoy and Comrade Stalin had ever agreed to the full. "Tosk", each of them had once said independently, "is worse for future of our country than alcohol and corruption, for it partakes in their harm but not in their benefits". Far was it from Alexandrov to disagree with these luminaries, but agree with them he could not make himself, either. In Alexeyevitch's personal philosophy, tosk was the quintessence of life. For him, toskness was what made Russian culture superior to any other.

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