When a Typo Becomes a Word

Several people I know like to play with words. Mostly, I prefer to play Hunt The Word, looking for exactly the right word with all the right nuances. But sometimes it seems like there isn’t one in English — or at least it isn’t readily to be found in dictionaries or in the thesaurus. And sometimes there are typos that look like a word, but aren’t in the dictionary. In the space between these two frustrations, new words may be born.

I’m writing a book. Some of the people in the book are part human, part faery. After months of trying to think of a name for this sort-of-species, a typo burst on the scene and it was sounded right. In an instant message, someone typoed “humna” instead of “human”. It was just right — almost human, but not quite. So I began using the word in my story.

Then I had a thought. What if “humna” already was a word, perhaps commonly used in another language? And what if it meant something entirely inappropriate? Scary idea! So, of course, I googled “humna”. At first, I didn’t find much useful, but then in the Urban Dictionary I came across this:   (n.) A person who is extremely annoying but lovable as well. Usually Humnas are very unique and odd. They tend to have large eyes and crazy laughs. Humna’s are far from normal and aren’t always well liked. It takes a special type of person to understand a Humna, but in the end they make for good company. A Humna is very entertaining and once you get to know a Humna you can’t help but to fall in love.

Unfortunately, they didn’t give the source of the word, but it will do just fine.

I blame the characterization of “extremely annoying” on the general human tendency to be irritated by anything they don’t understand. And “wild laughter” would have been more appropriate than “crazy laugh” — but it’s all a matter of personal perception of and reaction to the fae.

Wouldn’t it be funny if my book became popular and “humna” eventually crept into the language as a half human/half faery? Or at least, half-faerylike?

Here is a photo of one of our humnas — Marzipan’s Herself, Ceilear. I am undecided about the ears. Should they be human ears or… ? I have sort of caracal ears in mind for everyone, both humna and the chat sith dos, with tufts like caracal ears do have. (You can google many excellent photos of caracal and their marvelous ears.) The ears in the photo still need a lot of work. The chat sith dos will have the best caracal ears I can manage, but what do you think about the humna? Yea or nay?


5 thoughts on “When a Typo Becomes a Word

  1. I didn’t know, when you came by my blog and ‘liked’ it, that you were THE Jessica Macbeth that I have enjoyed reading so much in the Faeries’ Oracle! I LOVE YOUR craft, your word-play, your teachings and illuminations. Your insights are fabulous and sing to my heart! I have enjoyed the Faeries’ Oracle for years and it speaks volumes of truth and explanation to my life each time I delve into it. Thank you! I am honored to follow you here and so glad you liked my writings on the messages from the Faeries’ Oracle.

  2. Hi Jessica, I hope you’re well. Firstly, I like the Humna and the caracal ears for them, very expressive. Secondly I wanted to say how much I am enjoying getting to know the faeries oracle. The cards I pick have turned out to be very relevant and give unexpected insights into what’s going on and what I’m doing – including one well deserved kick up the bum so far! I’ve been dancing with them too. Thank you.

    1. Lisa, first I must apologize for not having “approved” your comment sooner — I’m leading a fairly chaotic life at present and just not keeping up with the world. I’m so glad that you’ve enjoyed and benefited from the Faeries’ Oracle. It’s still my favorite deck, although I’m working on another one now — more and different fae! I appreciate your comments about the Humna and the earz — we’ve improved the ears a lot and I think they will photograph well for the illustrations for Marzipan’s True Adventures (working title only). I’m currently planning to do the second draft of the first book in July — except that… I may do a book *before* the first book if… well if it comes. Marzipan, who is very fluffy, says it is too hot to think just now. I must agree. I’m working on it in a slightly melted way. I’m delighted to hear that you are dancing with the fae — it also benefits your clients because you do that. I’m sure you’ve noticed!

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