Roald Dahl Invented A Completely New Language To Help His Wife Communicate After She Had A Stroke

Date December 20, 2017

Sometimes, deeds are more meaningful than words. Roald Dahl, one of the most famous novelists and children’s authors, who wrote "Matilda," "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," and many more, invented a whole new language to help his wife recover after a complicated therapy.

Roald Dahl and Patricia Neal

Roald and Patricia first met at a dinner of their mutual friend. At that moment, they both were already successful and popular. He was a recognized novelist and screenwriter; she was a famous actress. Roald sold more than 250 million copies of his works worldwide; Patricia won the Academy Award for her role in Hud.


Later, Dahl confessed it was the love from the first sight. When he just saw Patricia at that dinner, he immediately understood he would marry this woman. So, he actually did. The couple got married in 1953 and had five wonderful children.


But one tragedy completely changed their lives. When Patricia was pregnant with their fifth child, she was diagnosed with an aneurysm in the brain, which caused a stroke. The woman’s speech apparatus was seriously damaged. She couldn’t speak distinctly and often confused words. But Roald didn’t give up on her and began thinking of a way to help his wife.


A new language invented by Dahl

As a children’s author, Dahl had a vivid imagination, which helped him create unusual stories and words for his books. He invented over 500 new words and character names like “Oompa-Loompas,” “whizzpopping,” “splatch-winkle,” and many others.

When his wife started using abnormal words in her speech, Roald began to write them down. The man was uncertain yet on how he could help Patricia, but he decided to try some kind of game, playing with words. They started using these unusual words and phrases to communicate in their everyday life.

When Dahl understood this new language really worked and helped his wife recover after the therapy, he asked the family friends to spend several hours a day learning these new words and talking to his wife.


Patricia pulled through her disease with the help and support of her beloved husband. Later, this unique therapy fundamentally changed the way stroke patients were treated. Some of the Dahl’s special words were even added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2016, to honor the author’s 100th birthday. A chief editor reported:

For many children, Roald Dahl’s work is not only one of their first experiences of reading, but also their earliest exposure to the creative power of language.


What Dahl did for his loving wife deserves the highest praise and respect. His contribution to the world of linguistics and writing is enormous and will remain relevant for many generations.

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