September 13, 2017

"Emotional intelligence starts with emotional granularity"

I've long been fascinated by certain words that can't be translated into English because they describe with precision an emotional state that we all can recognize but never had a word for.  That's why I have a whole category for new words for emotions.  Little did I know that these words can increase my emotional intelligence until now.

New Neuroscience Reveals 3 Secrets That Will Make You Emotionally Intelligent

Emotional Intelligence. It’s everywhere. They won’t shut up about it. And yet nobody seems to be able to explain what it really means or how you develop it.  The latest research shows that the little we know about emotions is actually all wrong. And I mean really wrong. ....[For example, the idea that} emotions are hardwired and universal. And research pretty convincingly shows they’re not. There is no set crayon box. Emotions aren’t hardwired or universal. They’re concepts that we learn. And so they can differ from culture to culture.
In sum: Here’s how to be more emotionally intelligent:
Emotions are concepts: They’re not hardwired or universal. They’re learned.
Emotional intelligence starts with emotional granularity: If your doctor came back with a diagnosis of “you’re sick”, you’d sue the quack for malpractice. Doctors need to be able to distinguish between “chancre” and “cancer.” And you need to know the difference between “sad” and “lonely.”
Emotional intelligence is in the dictionary: You can’t feel Fremdschämen* if you don’t know what it is. So learn new emotion words so you can feel new emotions and increase your emotional granularity.
Create new emotions: We could all use a little more “passion-o-rama” in our lives. Name those unnamed feelings you have and share them with others to make them real.

* Fremdschämen:  to feel ashamed about something someone else has done; to be embarrassed because someone else has embarrassed himself (and doesn't notice)

A fascinating article by Daniel Tammet about how differently he is depending on the language he is speaking. Languages revealing worlds and selves

I have multiple lives: my life in French, in Icelandic, in Spanish, in German, in Esperanto. English, the language in which I was raised and schooled, and today write, is also the one that makes me feel most foreign. I am most fluent in English, and yet least myself. In my mind, I am forever slipping in and out of it, thriving on other words, in other worlds.

I was not born a polyglot; I was born autistic, high-functioning.....Whenever I sat reading an English book, however, its words would glow and shimmer on the page, and if I closed its covers and my eyes, the words would stay with me, as shapes and textures and colored letters (a neurological phenomenon called synesthesia)...

I feel myself to be a better reader in French, more attentive and more scrupulous. Its grammar has made me more patient, has taught me the virtue of diligence...My Icelandic has continued to grow.... I have become more confident, outgoing, even chatty, than I ever was growing up in English....every time I speak with my friend Leandro, an Argentinian expat, I can see Latin America’s vivid colors with my tongue....I blush more frequently in German. I’m told I smile more broadly and nod more too. And nothing, in my experience, becomes my voice so much as saying aloud, Gemütlichkeit*, cosiness.

* Gemütlichkeit a German-language word used to convey the idea of a state or feeling of warmth, friendliness, and good cheer. Other qualities encompassed by the term include coziness, peace of mind, and a sense of belonging and well-being springing from social acceptance.  There is no English synonym for Gemütlichkeit. Cosy captures an element of it but crucially lacks those of friendliness and belonging.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:14 PM | Permalink

August 24, 2017

The Etymology of 'man' and some words for woman

The term man (from Proto-Germanic *mannaz or *manwaz "man, person") and words derived from it can designate any or even all of the human race regardless of their sex or age....The word developed into Old English man, mann meaning primarily "adult male human" but secondarily capable of designating a person of unspecified gender, "someone, one" or humanity at large... 

However, man in traditional usage (without an article) refers to the species, to humanity, or "mankind", as a whole. The usage persists in all registers of English although it has an old-fashioned tone. Equating the term for the male with the whole species is common in many languages, for example in French (l'Homme). On the other hand, some languages have a general word for 'human individual' which can apply to people of either gender. German has the general word Mensch, but Mann for (adult) male person.  Latin has the general word homo and for males the word vir.  The Latin word for woman is femina......The Latin root word 'man' means “hand" from which we get manual, manuscript, manufacture, and manicure.  In Old English the words wer and wīf  were used to refer to "a man" and "a woman" from which we get werwolf and wife.

Some wonderful words for women

Belladonna - Literally “fair lady” in Italian, belladonna can mean a deadly plant used to enhance beauty in the 15th century, or it can mean an equally venomous woman.

Colleen - an unmarried girl

Coquette - a woman who flirts lightly.

Dowager - any high-class, wealthy, or dignified elderly woman

Doyenne - the feminine version of a badass leader who possesses the trifecta for power: seniority, authority, and rank.

Duenna - a female guardian

Harridan - a particularly vicious older woman

Mavourneen - From the Irish for “my love,” a mavourneen is a darling.

Termagant - A trouble-making woman, prone to fits of violence or brawling

Regina - Regina has long been the official title for a queen

Slattern - an untidy or slovenly lady.

Virago - Once meant a woman of extraordinary stature, strength, and courage; a woman who has the robust body and masculine mind of a man - a female warrior.  It's come to mean a domineering, violent, or bad-tempered woman.

Vixen  -  a spiteful or quarrelsome woman.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:29 PM | Permalink

August 16, 2017

When there are no words

Some favorites from Foreign Words That Don’t Exist In English

Sobremesa (Spanish)
...that sedated, drowsy, happy conversation that results from full stomachs, a few bottles of wine, and good friends.

Iktsuarpok (Inuit)
You suddenly discover that you have a long-lost brother. After a series of feverish phone calls, he agrees to meet you at your house. You’re so excited that you’re lips are numb and your palms are sweating. Because of your excitement, you keep going outside to see if he’s arrived. That act of going outside is iktsuarpok.

Greng-jai (Thai)
Have you ever asked someone to help you move? You feel bad for asking them and don’t really want them to do it because it will be pain for them. You really don’t want to ask them to help you move, especially since you have a vast weight collection.  That feeling of not wanting to ask is Greng-jai.

Tartle (Scots)
You know that awful feeling you have when you need to introduce someone but can’t remember their name? You mumble and bumble, then finally say something lame like, “Yes, this is my…friend.” Then you feel like a moron. That experience is tartle.  In English, we call this, “Looking like a fool.”

Fremdschämen (German); Myötähäpeä (Finnish)
Meaning something close to “vicarious embarrassment”, this is what you feel when someone makes a complete fool of themselves in front of a large crowd.

Ya’arburnee (Arabic)
Literally translated, “May you bury me,” this intense word is a declaration that you wish to die before someone else because you love them so much and can’t stand to live without them.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:26 AM | Permalink

February 21, 2017

“Drinking home alone in your underwear, with no intention of going out.”

10 Extremely Precise Words for Emotions You Didn’t Even Know You Had

L’appel du vide, or “the call of the void" .You’re waiting for the train when an inexplicable thought flashes into your mind: What if you jumped off the platform? ... the emotion is so unsettling because of the way it “creates an unnerving, shaky sensation of not being able to trust one’s own instincts.”
Awumbuk - the feeling of “emptiness after visitors depart.”
Ilinx - a French word for “the ‘strange excitement’ of wanton destruction.
Torschlusspanik - that fretful sensation of time running out. . The deadline’s approaching. The train’s a-comin’. Literally translated from German, torschlusspanik means “gate-closing panic.”

Not all are from other languages. 

Brabant - a word for the fun of pushing someone’s buttons, to see how much you can tease them until they snap.
Pronoia  - t
he “strange, creeping feeling that everyone’s out to help you.”

But my favorite is  kalsarikannit, a Finnish term that roughly translates to “drinking home alone in your underwear, with no intention of going out.”  This Finnish Word Makes Your Sad Weekend Plans Sound a Little Cooler

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:49 AM | Permalink

February 14, 2017

Sometimes you just don't have the words...

The language of love: 10 romantic expressions around the world for which there is no English word.



Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:15 AM | Permalink

September 12, 2016

The flair of a good insult

50+ Old Fashioned Insults We Should Bring Back

Our storehouse of insults could surely use replenishing, and for this re-stocking operation there’s no better place to go than the slang of the 19th century – a time of truly colorful and entertaining verbiage. These old-fashioned put-downs have a flair that modern insults lack — they’re clever, nuanced, descriptive, and quite amusing (at least to the issuer and those who overhear, if not to the receiver!).

Afternoon Farmer - A laggard; a farmer who rises late and is behind in his chores; hence, anyone who loses his opportunities.

Cad - A mean fellow; a man trying to worm something out of another, either money or information.

Cow-Handed  Awkward.

Duke of Limbs - A tall, awkward fellow.

Fussbudget - A nervous, fidgety person.

Fribble - A trifler, idler, good-for-nothing fellow; silly and superficial.

Gadabout - A person who moves or travels restlessly or aimlessly from one social activity or place to another, seeking pleasure; a traipesing gossip; as a housewife seldom seen at home, but very often at her neighbor’s doors.

Gasser - Braggart.

Ginger-Snap - A hot-headed person.

Grumbletonian - A discontented person; one who is always railing at the times.

Poltroon - An utter coward.

Nincompoop - A fool.

Stingbum - A stingy or ungenerous person.

Wrinkler - A person prone to lying.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:37 AM | Permalink

September 6, 2016

Introvert Hangover

Introvert Hangovers Can Be Really Rough

Despite growing public awareness of what introversion is, it’s still hard to describe introverts’ recharging without it sounding like a slight against our friends or family members.  That was one of the reasons I really enjoyed this blog post on Introvert, Dear by Shawna Courter, which explains the idea of an “introvert hangover.” It’s a useful way for non-introverts to understand why introverts need to be alone without it coming across as hurtful.

Courter, like many introverts, has fairly limited reserves of social energy. Once those reserves are tapped, she explains, things get uncomfortable: “If I pack my social calendar too full, I’m likely to experience an ‘introvert’ hangover, because I didn’t leave time for myself to be alone and recharge my mental batteries”:

An “introvert” hangover is a pretty terrible thing to experience. It starts with an actual physical reaction to overstimulation. Your ears might ring, your eyes start to blur, and you feel like you’re going to hyperventilate. Maybe your palms sweat. And then your mind feels like it kind of shuts down, building barriers around itself as if you had been driving on a wide open road, and now you’re suddenly driving in a narrow tunnel. All you want is to be at home, alone, where it’s quiet.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:41 PM | Permalink

March 28, 2016

When English Fails

There are at least 216 foreign words for positive emotional states and concepts that we don't have in English

Tim Lomas at the University of East London has begun a deep investigation into all the non-English words for positive emotions and concepts that don't have a direct translation in English.

I've selected my favorites from his initial findings.  He is continually updating his list online, so if you know of other words, add them.

Words relating to feelings:
Gula – Spanish for the desire to eat simply for the taste
Schnapsidee – German for coming up with an ingenious plan when drunk
Gokotta – Swedish for waking up early to listen to bird song
Suaimhneas croi – Gaelic for the happiness that comes from finishing a task
Iktsuarpok – Inuit for the anticipation felt when waiting for someone
Words relating to relationships:
Nakama – Japanese for friends who one considers like family
Gigil – Philippine Tagalog for the irresistible urge to pinch or squeeze someone because you love them so much
Kilig – Tagalog for the butterflies in the stomach you get when interacting with someone you find attractive
Myotahapea – Finnish for vicarious embarrassment
Mudita – Sanskrit for reveling in someone else's joy

Words relating to character:
Sitzfleisch – German for the ability to persevere through hard or boring tasks (literally "sit meat")
Baraka – Arabic for a gift of spiritual energy that can be passed from one person to another
Desenrascanco – Portuguese for the ability to artfully disentangle oneself from a troublesome situation
Sprezzatura – Italian for when all art and effort are concealed beneath a "studied carelessness"
Kao pu – Chinese for someone who is reliable and responsible and gets things done without causing problems for others
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:26 AM | Permalink

January 22, 2016

You've experience the emotion, now learn the word that precisely describes it.

Tiffany Watt Smith has been an emotions expert in London for years.  She has written a book - The Book of Human Emotion - to highlight unique ones and the words that describe them.  Some come from other languages, others she probably made up.  But, if you love words, these are lovely.  I just wish I could remember them all.

The bizarre words that sum up your most indescribable and commonly felt emotions.

Rage against the machines: TECHNOSTRESS:

The Greek philosopher Aristotle observed that we’re more likely to fly into a violent rage when slighted by someone we perceive to be inferior to us. ...It may be precisely why computers and other electronic devices rouse such murderous reactions. They are supposed to be making our lives easier, these willful electronic slaves of ours. But mostly it feels as if they’re in charge, forcing us to negotiate with them, cooperate, read their manuals …

Time is running out: TORSCHLUSSPANIK

Torschlusspanik describes the agitated, fretful feeling we get when we notice time is running out.
The heart pounds, the nape of the neck prickles, as the deadline approaches. Yet, we’re stuck, bewildered by choices and terrified we’re about to make the wrong one.  Life, and all its abundant opportunities, is passing us by.....Literally translated from the German as ‘gate-closing-panic’, Torschlusspanik was coined in the Middle Ages. Seeing a rampaging army approach, and knowing that the castle gates were about to close, travellers and shepherds flung their belongings aside and stampeded across the drawbridge to safety.

Antsy anticipation: IKTSUARPOK:

When visitors are due to arrive, a fidgety feeling sprouts up. We might keep glancing out of the window. Or pause mid-sentence, thinking we’ve heard the sound of a car.  Among the Inuit this antsy anticipation, causing them to scan the frozen Arctic plains for approaching sleds, is called iktsuarpok (pronounced eet-so-ahr-pohk).

Feeling cozy with friends:  GEZELLIGHEID:

It’s no surprise that so many of northern Europe’s languages have a particular word for feeling cosy (from the Gaelic còsag, a small hole you can creep into). It’s when the rain is mizzling and the damp rises from the canals that we yearn for the feeling the Dutch call gezelligheid...Derived from the word for ‘friend’, gezelligheid describes both physical circumstances – being snug in a warm and homely place surrounded by good friends (it’s impossible to be gezelligheid alone) – and an emotional state of feeling ‘held’ and comforted.

The excitement of sailing with the wind: HWYL

Literally the word for a boat sail, hywl is a wonderfully onomatopoeic Welsh word (pronounced who-eel) that means exuberance or excitement, as if clipping along on a gust of wind.  Used to describe flashes of inspiration, a singer’s gusto or raised spirits at parties, hwyl is also the word for goodbye:
Hywl fawr – Go with the wind in your sails.

The empty, slightly diminished feeling after visitors leave:  AWUMBUK

There is an emptiness after visitors depart. The walls echo. The space which felt so cramped while they were here now seems weirdly large.  And though there is often relief, we can also be left with a muffled feeling – as if a fog has descended and everything seems rather pointless

Hyperchondriacs on the web develop:  CYBERCHONDRIA: Anxiety about ‘symptoms’ of an ‘illness’ fueled by internet ‘research

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:56 PM | Permalink

August 7, 2015

Running with the stars

The Mind-Bending Science of Awe

Awe is not an everyday emotion….Up until about ten years ago, psychology "had surprisingly little to say about awe," wrote Dacher Keltner and Jonathan Haidt in a 2003 paper.
The psychologists laid out a research agenda intended to tease out "the similarities and differences between awe and gratitude, admiration, elevation, surprise, fear and perhaps even love." In the years since, they and other researchers have been testing awe—what is it? How does it work? What seems awesome, and why? For the first time, they're starting to understand both what awe does to us and what it might do for us.

 Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon by Dan Ransom

What do we look like when we're feeling it?…When they asked people to perform awe, they found that people indeed often raised their eyebrows and widened their eyes. They also opened their mouths and dropped their jaws and, sometimes, breathed in. And, the researchers noticed, few people smiled.
Awe was a serious emotion. "Clues suggest that awe’s function may lie in how it makes you think,"….In subsequent experiments looking at "the nature of awe," the researchers found that it often occurred when a person had an opportunity to expand their knowledge of the world. When it happened, it turned a person's attention outwards, instead of towards the self.
It might be big or small, natural or man-made, but it stops you cold—while other positive emotion arouse the body, people feeling awe are very still—and makes you re-evaluate what you actually know. In other words, awe is kind of mind-bending, and it alters how a person perceives the world in subtle but meaningful ways. It can, for instance, make time seem to slow down.
All this early research indicates that Keltner and Haidt's initial description of awe was accurate: it's a feeling induced by vastness that requires some sort of mental accommodation to overwhelming new information. The next step is understanding why it exists at all.
So far, it seems, the purpose of awe might have something to do with drawing people together….Rudd's research shows, for instance, that when awe-struck people feel like they have more time, they're more willing to use it to help others. ….even more than other positive emotions, awe promoted generosity. It also improved participants' ethical decision making. A paper still under review indicates that awe can makes people more humble, too.

And a few quotes on awe.

“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science.  He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed.  Albert Einstein

"Two things awe me most, the starry sky above me and the moral law within me."  Immanuel Kant

“Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them.” Marcus Aurelius

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:26 PM | Permalink

May 19, 2015

Untranslatable Words

From DeMilked 14 Untranslatable Words Explained With Cute Illustrations

Marija Tiurina,  a London-based artist,  has collected, explained, and illustrated 14 non-English words we could certainly use.

Cafuné – the act of tenderly running fingers through someone’s hair  (Brazilian, Portuguese)

Palegg – anything and everything that you can put on a slice of bread (Norwegian)

Gufra – the amount of water that can be held in a hand (Arabic)

Baku-Shan – a beautiful girl – as long as she is being viewed from behind (Japanese)

Schlimazl – a chronically unlucky person  (Yiddish)

Duende – the mysterious power that a work of art has to deeply move a person (Spanish)

Age-Otori – to look worse after a haircut (Japanese)

Kyoikumama – a mother who relentlessly pushes her children toward academic achievement (Japanese)

L’appel Duvide – instinctive urge to jump from high places (French)

Luftmensch – refers to someone who is a bit of a dreamer, and literally means “air person”  (German)

Tretar – is a second refill, or “threefill” (Swedish)

Torchlusspanik – the fear of diminishing opportunities as one ages (German)

Schadenfreude – feeling of pleasure derived by seeing another’s misfortune (German)

Tingo - the act of taking objects one desires from the house of a friend by gradually borrowing all of them (Pascuense)

You'll will want to see them all.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:02 PM | Permalink

May 1, 2015

Religious roots of common words

From Many Of Our Words And Phrases Are Rooted In Religion  by Richard Lederer

Carnival The Latin word parts, carne, "meat, flesh," and vale, "farewell," indicate that the earliest carnivals were seasons of feasting and merrymaking, "a farewell to meat," just before Lent.

Bonfire:  Originally the bone fires that consumed the bodies of saints whom were burned during the English Reformation.

Enthusiastic: From the Greek enthusiasmos, "a god within."  The word first meant "filled with God," as did giddy, from Anglo Saxon gydig, "god-held man."

Excruciating: The Latin word for "cross," crux, is embedded in the words crux, crucial and excruciating, which has broadened from denoting the agony of the crucifixion to any kind of torturous pain.

Fan:  A clipping of fanatic, "inspired by the temple."  The opposite, profane, describes a person who is irreverent and sacrilegious, from the Latin pro, "outside," and fanum, "the temple."

Good-bye:  Our traditional farewell turns out to be a shortening of the sentence "God be with you."
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:18 PM | Permalink

March 11, 2015

Word history

Words you might think are etymologically related but are not

Where male goes back to Latin masculus, female comes through French femelle from Latin femella. The eventual overlap in pronunciation was accidental.

Though a hangnail seems to be a piece of skin that "hangs" off your nail area, it's actually an "angry" nail. Ang-, meaning troubling or distressing in Latin, also meant painful in Old English.

Isn't it odd how an ear of corn looks nothing like an ear? That's because the root of the corn ear is in Old English éar or eher, which always referred to the spiky, seed bearing part of a grain plant, and not to éare, which always meant the ear.

The step- in words for step family members comes not from the word for taking a step with the foot, nor the related metaphor for being removed by one unit, but to an old root stéop-, related to the concept of bereavement. The earliest use of this prefix was in an Old English word for orphan, stéopcild, or stepchild.

Man comes from a Germanic root, and in all the Germanic languages has had both senses of "person" and "adult male person." Human comes from a Latin root, humanus, meaning that having to do with people (rather than animals or gods).
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:02 PM | Permalink

February 7, 2015

Miscellany 4

Lars Anderson takes Archery to a whole new level.  What he can do is absolutely amazing

Bill Whittle in Number One with a Bullet.  A devastatingly effective video that shows while the U.S. is number one in gun ownership per capita, it is one of the safest places to be in the world.

Neil Bromhall films a Mesmerizing Time-Lapse Video of an Acorn Growing into an Oak Seedling Over the Course of Eight Months

The Amazing Video that takes you INSIDE the Largest Photograph Ever Taken is awesome and mind-blowing.

 Nasa Andromeda

Earlier this month, NASA and ESA released the biggest and highest resolution image of our galactic neighbor, Andromeda, that has ever been taken. The 1.5 billion pixel image was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. Each tiny dot of light in the picture represents one of 1 trillion stars in the galaxy; many with their own expansive planetary systems.

As you watch this video and contemplate Andromeda’s mind-boggling size, remember that this is just a drop in the bucket compared to the rest of the universe. As large as this galaxy is, it is only one out of 200 billion galaxies in the known universe

Source of Van Gogh's Starry Night
 Vangogh Parsons

Van Gogh likely based his famed Starry Night on this scientific illustration of the Whirlpool Galaxy by one William Parsons that appeared in a 19th century popular astronomy tome, according to Michael Benson's new book Cosmigraphics, a history of our efforts to illustrate the universe.

Why Cary Grant's suit in North by Northwest  is iconic and still looks so good

12 Enjoyable Names for Relatively Common Things

4. The string of typographical symbols comic strips use to indicate profanity ("$%@!") is called a grawlix.
7. What do you call a group of rattlesnakes? A rhumba.
8. To waste time by being lazy is to dringle.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:46 PM | Permalink

December 5, 2014

Sexodus and Stepford Students

Two articles over the past week witness the toxic legacy of feminism and political correctness. 

An important, if depressing,  read.The Sexodus, Part 1: The Men Giving Up On Women And Checking Out Of Society by  Milo Yiannopoulos

So what happened to those boys who, in 2001, were falling behind girls at school, were less likely to go to college, were being given drugs they did not need and whose self-esteem and confidence issues haven't just been ignored, but have been actively ridiculed by the feminist Establishment that has such a stranglehold on teaching unions and Left-leaning political parties?

In short: they grew up, dysfunctional, under-served by society, deeply miserable and, in many cases, entirely unable to relate to the opposite sex. It is the boys who were being betrayed by the education system and by culture at large in such vast numbers between 1990 and 2010 who represent the first generation of what I call the sexodus, a large-scale exit from mainstream society by males who have decided they simply can't face, or be bothered with, forming healthy relationships and participating fully in their local communities, national democracies and other real-world social structures. 

Stepford Students.  Brendan O'Neill writes Free speech is so last century. Today’s students want the ‘right to be comfortable’

I was attacked by a swarm of Stepford students this week. On Tuesday, I was supposed to take part in a debate about abortion at Christ Church, Oxford. I was invited by the Oxford Students for Life to put the pro-choice argument against the journalist Timothy Stanley, who is pro-life. But apparently it is forbidden for men to talk about abortion. A mob of furious feministic Oxford students, all robotically uttering the same stuff about feeling offended, set up a Facebook page littered with expletives and demands for the debate to be called off. They said it was outrageous that two human beings ‘who do not have uteruses’ should get to hold forth on abortion — identity politics at its most basely biological — and claimed the debate would threaten the ‘mental safety’ of Oxford students. Three hundred promised to turn up to the debate with ‘instruments’ — heaven knows what — that would allow them to disrupt proceedings.
It’s hard to think of any other section of society that has undergone as epic a transformation as students have. From freewheelin’ to ban-happy, from askers of awkward questions to suppressors of offensive speech, in the space of a generation…..

This is what those censorious Cambridgers meant when they kept saying they have the ‘right to be comfortable’. They weren’t talking about the freedom to lay down on a chaise lounge — they meant the right never to be challenged by disturbing ideas or mind-battered by offensiveness. …We’re witnessing the victory of political correctness by stealth. …This is a disaster, for it means our universities are becoming breeding grounds of dogmatism.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:13 AM | Permalink

September 29, 2014

We've all had the experience of akihi

Wonderful Foreign Words With No English Equivalent, Illustrated


Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:08 AM | Permalink

March 17, 2014

Slum is an an Irish Gaelic word which means 's slom é, or "it's bleak".

Happy St Patrick's day and thanks to the Irish who gave us so much slang  Irish words litter New York City slang

This is a small taste compiled from Daniel Cassidy's boss book, “How the Irish Invented Slang”, and from Niall Ó Donaill's “Foclóir Gaeilge-Béarla”.

We don't normally exclaim "Gee whiz" or "Gee whilikers" anymore. We associate such talk with a classic time in New York, when Irish Gaelic was the secret language of the slums, an Irish Gaelic word which means 's slom é, or "it's bleak." In the slums it was common to hear Irish people say Dia Thoilleachas, Gee Hillukus, which became Gee Whilikers, and means the "will of God." "Gee" is the approximate pronunciation of Dia, or the Irish word for God. "Holy cow" means Holy Cathú or Holy Cahoo or Holy Grief. "Darn" is another Gaelic exclamation. In Irish you say daithairne ort, which means, "darn on you" or "misfortune on you." Gee whiz comes from Dia Uas or Geeuh Woous which means "noble god."
Irish Gaelic was a secret language in Éire, which was once an Ireland riddled with foreign spies, and so it was a language to keep the copper (the catcher, the thinker) from catching on. Cop comes from ceapaim, and means "I catch, think etc." You try to keep the cop from figuring out your racket, or your reacaireacht, your "dealing, selling or gossiping."

Just like the word bailiff came from the Gaelic word baille for bally or homevillage, the word in New York for the cop on the beat, was the ceap on the béad, the protector on ill-deeds.
Most scholars go by their goofy hunch, that tells them that Irish Gaelic is some dead language no one ever spoke. In fact, it was the first language of most Irish Americans that came here in the big flood of Irish after the famine, when that famine adversely targeted Irish-speaking areas first and foremost, sending Irish speakers to America before anyone.
Racketeer is also related to the Irish word reachtaire which was the title for the money-taking administrator at a colonial big house or at a church office back in Ireland. On the streets of New York, the racketeer has translated the duties and strategies of the colonizer into street crime rackets for himself--the oppressed learn the methods of oppression better than anyone.

A word that should be brought back is "joint" for place or establishment or room. It's a word that instantly conjures an entire world of old New York. It comes from the Irish word for protection or shelter, a place with a roof, such as in the root of the Irish word for penthouse, díonteach or jeent-ock.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:51 PM | Permalink

March 8, 2014

Some old words and some new ones

13 Wonderful Old English Words We Should Still Be Using Today

Ultracrepidarian (n):"Somebody who gives opinions on subjects they know nothing about."

Snollygoster (n): "A shrewd, unprincipled person, especially a politician."

Zwodder (n): "A drowsy and stupid state of body or mind."

Clinomania (n): "An obsessive desire to lie down."

Groke (v): "To gaze at somebody while they're eating in the hope that they'll give you some of their food."

Now some funny new ones when new English speakers use only the words they know

 Nut Hat

Tape measure: "Do you have a roll of inches?"

Ice cubes: very cold water with corners

Wrists: hand ankles

Mist: tiny rain but lots of them

Toes: foot fingers

 Horse Tornado

Wreath: holiday door donut with glitters

Gloves: hand shoes

Lambs: sheep kittens

Bury: digging it shut

Elbow: arm knee

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:25 PM | Permalink

February 13, 2014

Shades of Lysenko in the Trial of the Century:

Mann vs. Steyn: The Trial of the Century by Robert Tracinski

Trofim Lysenko was the Soviet scientist who ingratiated himself to Joseph Stalin and got his crackpot theories on genetics installed as official dogma, effectively killing the study of biology in the Soviet Union. Under Lysenko, the state had an established and official scientific doctrine, and you risked persecution if you questioned it. Mann's libel suit is an attempt to establish that same principle here.
Mann has recently declared himself to be both a scientist and a political activist. But in attempting to intimidate his critics and suppress free debate on global warming, he is violating the fundamental rules of both science and politics. If it is a sin to doubt, then there is no science. If it is a crime to dissent, then there is no politics.

Mann vs. Steyn may be the trial of the century. It may determine, not merely whether the environmentalists can shut down industrial civilization, but whether they can shut down the independent thinking of skeptical dissidents.

From Wikipedia

Lysenkoism was the centralized political control exercised over genetics and agriculture by Trofim Lysenko and his followers. Lysenko was the director of the Soviet Union's Lenin All-Union Academy of Agricultural Sciences. Lysenkoism began in the late 1920s and formally ended in 1964.

Lysenkoism was built on theories of the heritability of acquired characteristics that Lysenko named "Michurinism". These theories depart from accepted evolutionary theory and Mendelian inheritance.

Lysenkoism is used metaphorically to describe the manipulation or distortion of the scientific process as a way to reach a predetermined conclusion as dictated by an ideological bias, often related to social or political objectives.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:18 PM | Permalink

What's a Precariat?

David Brooks on The American Precariat

the Precariat is the growing class of people living with short-term and part-time work with precarious living standards and “without a narrative of occupational development.” They live with multiple forms of insecurity and are liable to join protest movements across the political spectrum.

The American Precariat seems more hunkered down, insecure, risk averse, relying on friends and family but without faith in American possibilities. This fatalism is historically uncharacteristic of America.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:07 PM | Permalink

February 7, 2014

Five of my favorite new words

Five of my favorite new words from  28 New words to help you expand the boundaries of your reality.

Eunoia.  (n) beautiful thinking; a well mind .  Pronounced U-noy-a with the emphasis on the second syllable.

Sillage (n) the scent that lingers in air, the trail left in water, the impression made in space after something or someone has been and gone; the trace of someone's perfume.

Goya (n) from the Urdu meaning the transporting suspension of disbelief that can occur in good storytelling.

Tsundoku (n) (Japanese) buying books and not reading them; letting books pile up unread on shelves, floors or nightstands.  Pronounced  tsoon-doh-koo.

And my very favorite, kintsukuroi (n) from the Japanese "to repair with gold"; the art of repairing pottery with gold or silver lacquer and understanding that the piece is more beautiful for having been broken,

 Bowl Repaired With-Gold

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:18 PM | Permalink

Importance is Heavy

5 Ways Your Emotions Influence Your World (and Vice Versa)

Love Is Sweet. The sugar explosion around Valentine's Day is no coincidence. Research published in January 2014 finds that being in love makes food and drink — even tasteless distilled water — seem sweeter.

The finding illustrates how some rhetorical flourishes ("sweetheart," for example) have roots in the body. Study researcher Kai Qin Chan, a doctoral candidate at Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands, suspects that the association between sweetness and love starts early, when babies learn to associate their parents' love with formula or breast milk.

Importance is heavy - Giving someone a heavy clipboard can make them think job candidates are more serious than someone holding a light clipboard, according to a 2010 study. The seriousness-heaviness link works the other way around, too. In research published in January 2011, psychologists told people a book was full of either important information or fluff. When asked to judge the weight of the book, participants thought it was heavier if they'd been told it was full of important writing.

Powerlessness is, too.  Importance isn't the only thing that makes objects feel heavy. Powerlessness does, too.
People induced to feel powerless, either by writing about a vulnerable experience or assuming a weak physical pose, are more likely to feel like objects are heavier than people who don't feel powerless, researchers reported in February 2014 in the Journal of Experimental Psychology. The effect may keep powerless people from overextending themselves, given that they don't control resources like a powerful person does, study researcher Eun Hee Lee of the University of Cambridge told Live Science.

Loneliness is cold  "I've been frozen out at work." "She greeted me with warmth." It's clear that English-speakers link social interaction with warmth, and loneliness and isolation with cold. Turns out, people feel it in their very bones.

In research published in 2008, scientists induced loneliness or feelings of acceptance in volunteers by asking them to remember a time they'd been excluded or included. They then asked them to estimate the temperature in the room.
Those induced to feel loneliness estimated the room to be 4 degrees Fahrenheit colder, on average, than those who were feeling accepted. In a follow-up study, researchers found that people excluded from a game were more drawn to warm foods like soup, presumably trying to warm their bodies in compensation for the chill of loneliness.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:01 PM | Permalink

January 23, 2014


 Japan-Sun 10 everyday English words that were originally Japanese.  Words such as sushi, karate, manga, futon, tsunami and karaoke are obviously Japanese, but would you have guessed that honcho, tycoon and hunky-dory also come from Japan?

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:16 PM | Permalink

November 12, 2013

The universal word known round the world - "Huh?"

I think this is wonderful.

"Huh?" is a Universal Word that Binds Confused Humans Together

There are over 7,100 known living languages being spoken in the world, and there's probably one single commonality in all of them: a universal word that binds all humanity and underscores that we are all often in the state of confusion. That word is "Huh?"

Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in The Netherlands visited native speakers of 10 very different languages on five continents and recorded over 200 casual conversations that revealed that there are versions of "Huh?" in every language they sampled - and they sound remarkably similar.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:06 PM | Permalink

October 25, 2013

My favorites are 'baggatory' and 'rotter'

In The New Yorker, The Word For

There ought to be a word for “the limbo-like precincts of an airport baggage claim, where groggy travellers gather around the motionless treads of empty conveyor belts.” It is a singularly desolate scene, and there should be a succinct way for a forlorn luggage-seeker to text a quick apology to the friend who is idly circling the airport roads. Now, there is: “baggatory.”

That clever turn is just one of a couple hundred neologisms coined by Liesl Schillinger in her new book, “Wordbirds: An Irreverent Lexicon for the 21st Century.”

Some more:

“social crawler” (a party-goer who accidentaly mingles with losers);

“Facebook-happy” (a miserable person who fakes bliss in carefully managed Facebook posts);

“polterguy” (an ex-boyfriend who haunts future relationships);

“factose intolerant” (a person who claims a false allergy or irrational antipathy to certain foods); and

“rotter” (the bottom drawer in the refrigerator where produce goes to putrefy).
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:43 AM | Permalink

September 4, 2013

When sunlight filters through the trees, call it 'komorebi'

11 Untranslatable Words From Other Cultures

Japanese: Komorebi

This is the word the Japanese have for when sunlight filters through the trees - the interplay between the light and the leaves.

 Japanese Korembi
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:10 PM | Permalink

August 1, 2013

I love belly timber and rain napper

Tyler Vendetti has her say on these wonderful words that are rarely heard today

Mackintosh/Macintosh (n.): waterproof raincoat

Pusillanimity (n.): cowardliness

Belly Timber (n.): food

Wiseacres (n.): a know-it-all

Habiliments (n.): clothing

Messmates (n.): a person with whom one eats with regularly

Cavil (v.): to raise trivial objections; a quibble

Palaver (v.): to talk unnecessarily at length; a long parley usually between persons of different cultures or levels of sophistication; tedious business

Chafe (n.): argument, dispute

Rain Napper (n.): umbrella
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:04 AM | Permalink

May 17, 2013

Fabulous phrases from Francis

Pope Francis has only been Pope for a couple of months, yet, he's already coined fabulous phrases that Matt Schmitz has inventoried together with their context.

"God spray"
"Satellite Christians"
"identity card Christianity"
"Teenagers for life"
"Mr. Whiner"
"Pickled peppers"
"Middle class of holiness"
"Babysitter Church"
"Rosewater faith"
"Apostle of Babel"
"Charitable NGO"
"Odor of sheep"

and yesterday, "gentrification of the heart".

 Pope Francis Dove

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:18 AM | Permalink

April 4, 2013

Wisdom, Prudence and Human Flourishing

The English writers  Orwell and Huxley describe two types of enslavement, external and internal  In U.S. we are more Brave New World than 1984 though we have elements of both.

Hunger Games and Dystopia

George Orwell and Aldous Huxley, as has often been pointed out, imagined two very different dystopias. In 1984, written just after the Second World War, Orwell depicts the forces that held people captive as fundamentally external: coercion, espionage, laws, constraints, threats, lies, the state.  By contrast, Huxley’s Brave New World, published just after the Wall Street crash had turned the excess of the twenties into the Great Depression of the thirties, portrays a future in which people are enslaved to forces within themselves: desire, inanity, hedonism, egotism, fatuity. For all the similarities between the two books, it is this difference that is the most striking.
The greatest threat to human flourishing is the lack of wisdom, phronesis, or virtue. Whereas moderns understand freedom in terms of unconstrained individual choices, many ancients regarded the forces underlying individual choices—passions and desires which might in turn be foolish, selfish, or carnal, much like those depicted in Brave New World—as something from which people needed to be freed.
The essence of eleutheria, in the vision of writers from Aristotle to St. Paul, was being free to become what one was originally designed to be, rather than simply being free to make decisions (decisions which, of course, might stunt one’s progress towards ultimate fulfillment). Thus humans could be enslaved, not just to the other, but to the self. One needs redemption from the flesh as much as from the powers. Under such a vision of liberty, modern Westerners might not be as free as we would like to think.

Eleutheria is the Greek term for liberty. Eunoia, in addition to being the shortest English word containing all five vowels, comes from Greek meaning "well mind" or "beautiful thinking" and is a rarely used medical term referring to a state of normal mental health.

Phronesis is the Greek word is most often translated as "practical wisdom" or prudence.  Sophia is the other Greek word for wisdom sometimes translated as "theoretical wisdom".  Young people can acquire sophia in their respective fields, but, as Aristotle pointed out, maturation is required for  phronesia or prudence.  Young people do not as yet as have the life experience of sufficient particular experiences that's necessary for prudence.    This was clearly evident to Cicero who said:

"Rashness belongs to youth; prudence to old age," 
"Prudence is the knowledge of things to be sought, and those to be shunned."
"Precaution is better than cure"

One of the seven virtues, prudence is often misunderstood by young people as Kathryn Britton points out In Praise of Prudence from Positive Psychology News.

Generally speaking, adolescents understood them quite well, but I remember they had a tendency to confuse Humility with humiliation and Prudence with prudes. According the authors, “It seems that for most students, caution/prudence is a stuffy trait associated with timidity and lack of adventurousness.”

No wonder that "“The least prevalent character strengths in human beings are prudence, modesty, and self-regulation.”

Britton continues:

Psychologist Vincent Jeffries defines prudence as, “the use of reason to correctly discern that which helps and that which hinders realizing the good.” Think about all that entails: being able to project today’s actions into the future, to imagine the possible outcomes, and to form judgments about alternatives. I expect a person with the character strength prudence must have a high tolerance for ambiguity, needing to deal with incomplete and often conflicting information in order to make judgments.

As the expert contributor to the Prudence chapter in Character Strengths and Virtues, Nick Haslam identifies the following qualities of prudence:
A foresighted stance toward the future, holding long-term goals and aspirations

Ability to resist self-defeating impulses and to persist in beneficial activities, even if they lack immediate appeal (Grit anyone?)

• Reflective, deliberate, and practical thinking about life choices

• Ability to harmonize multiple goals into a “stable, coherent, and un-conflicted form of life.

• Ability to seek personal good without being collectively destructive.

In positive psychology, flourishing is “to live within an optimal range of human functioning, one that connotes goodness, generativity, growth, and resilience.”
Flourishing is the opposite of both pathology and languishing, which are described as living a life that feels both hollow and empty.
Flourishing is a positive psychology concept which is a measure of overall life well-being and is viewed as important to the idea of happiness

A pioneer in positive psychology, Corey Keyes describes flourishing thusly:

flourishing is the epitome of mentally healthy adults having high levels of emotional well-being; they are happy and satisfied; they tend to see their lives as having a purpose; they feel some degree of mastery and accept all parts of themselves; they have a sense of personal growth in the sense that they are always growing, evolving, and changing; finally, they have a sense of autonomy and an internal locus of control, they chose their fate in life instead of being victims of fate.

Keyes reports that only 18.1% of Americans are actually flourishing. The majority of Americans can be classified as mentally unhealthy (depressed) or not mentally unhealthy or flourishing (moderately mentally healthy/languishing).

He is quoted as saying,

"We are living longer — on average 30 years longer than at the start of the 20th century — yet we are not living healthier. The question is: Are we just living dependent and sick, or are we living healthy and able to contribute?"

"I think we set up an impossible task, because our hedonistic version of happiness is impossible to sustain. But it is quite possible to feel fulfilled and content and that the world is meaningful by aligning yourself with some ideals, something that is bigger and better than you, and trying to live up to it."

For a flourishing life, one that is well-lived, we do well to cultivate the virtue of prudence.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:02 PM | Permalink

November 26, 2012

Niggly-wiggly and collywobbles

27 Everyday Things you Never Knew Had Names

1. Glabella

2. Vagitus - the cry of a newborn baby

3. Chanking - the food that you spit out

5. Niggly-Wiggly

6. Darkle

9. Nattiform

13. Punt

16. Brannock Divide

20. Collywobbles - butterflies in your stomach

26. Rasceta

You just have to go to the link to see the rest of the definitions and the photos that help explain

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:41 AM | Permalink

November 17, 2012

Word of the year

The Oxford English Dictionary chooses two words of the year; one for the British and one for the Americans.

American word of the year:  gif

'gif,' short for graphics interchange format, a common format for moving images on the Internet.    The editors said 'gif' was being recognized for making the crucial transition from noun to verb, 'to gif': to create a gif file of an image or video sequence, especially relating to an event. And, inevitably, to share it online.

British word of the year:  omnishambles

It is defined as "a situation that has been comprehensively mismanaged, characterized by a string of blunders and miscalculations".

With institutions like the BBC in meltdown, the EU struggling to deliver a budget, and PR gaffes from the Government including Andrew Mitchell's row with policemen, many in Britain might not argue with the choice of phrase, the Daily Mail reported.

A wonderful word and very useful on this side of the pond as well.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:11 PM | Permalink

July 30, 2012

The purlicue is bigger than either the lunule or philtrum

These words have to do with the human body: lunule, philtrum, purlicue,  phosphenes, paresthesia  and  wamble,

If you don't know what they mean, check here  25 Everyday Things You Never Knew Had Names

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:01 PM | Permalink

May 22, 2012

They have a word for it

My favorites from the 25 handy words that don't exist in English

Age-tori (Japanese):  To look worse after a haircut

Gigil (pronounced Gheegle; Filipino): The urge to pinch of squeeze something that is unbearably cute

Meraki (pronounced may-ray-kee; Greek) Doing something with soul. creativity or love.  It's when you put something of yourself into what you're doing.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:19 PM | Permalink

January 19, 2012

The Greek We Speak

10 Words Originating from Greek Mythology

Chronological and Chronic

Enjoy the explanations and images at the link like this painting by the genius Caravaggio representing Narcissus

 Caravaggio Narcissus

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:19 PM | Permalink

July 24, 2011

Two tittles in my name

25 Everyday Things You Never Knew Had Names  via First Thing's Joe Carter

How many of these do you know?  One clue, I've got two tittles in my name.

Tittle, lunule, crepuscular rays, ferrule, gynecomastia, muntin, morton's toe, arms akimbo, desire path, semantic satiation,  skeuomorph, brannock device, paresthesia, phosphens, armscye, wamble, feat, peen, rectal tenesmus, dysania, mondegreen, petrichor,  philtrum, purlicue, aglet.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:03 PM | Permalink

July 23, 2011

Grief bacon, blue smile and air person

From Mental Floss, 15 wonderful words that have no English equivalent.  My favorites.

3. Slampadato (Italian)
Addicted to the UV glow of tanning salons? This word describes you.

4. Luftmensch (Yiddish)
There are several Yiddish words to describe social misfits. This one is for an impractical dreamer with no business sense. Literally, air person.

12. Glas wen (Welsh)
A smile that is insincere or mocking. Literally, a blue smile.

14. Boketto (Japanese)
It’s nice to know that the Japanese think enough of the act of gazing vacantly into the distance without thinking to give it a name.

15. Kummerspeck (German)
Excess weight gained from emotional overeating. Literally, grief bacon.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:10 PM | Permalink

April 21, 2011

4 useful new words

Some useful new words petrichor, zarf, chanking, scroop,

10 Things You Didn't Know Had Names

1. You know how it smells after it rains? That clean, greenish smell? That’s petrichor, from the Greek petra (stone) and ichor (the blood of Greek gods and goddesses). The term was coined by two Australian researchers in 1964.

2. Originally, a
zarf was a metal chalice keep the heat from your coffee from burning your fingers. The fancy cupholder has morphed into the modern-day cardboard sleeve that comes wrapped around your hot coffee.

Chanking: Chewed-up food that’s been spit out. (Try to avoid giving us reason to use this one, ok?)

Scroop is the rustling, swooshy sound ballgowns make. More specifically, it’s the sound produced by the movement of silk
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:10 AM | Permalink

March 8, 2011

Full flourishing

David Brooks on The New Humanism or how to enlarge the too simplistic current definition of human capital as IQ and professional skills 

Yet while we are trapped within this amputated view of human nature, a richer and deeper view is coming back into view.

This growing, dispersed body of research reminds us of a few key insights. First, the unconscious parts of the mind are most of the mind, where many of the most impressive feats of thinking take place. Second, emotion is not opposed to reason; our emotions assign value to things and are the basis of reason. Finally, we are not individuals who form relationships. We are social animals, deeply interpenetrated with one another, who emerge out of relationships.

to include to include qualities you may not have heard of, but can recognize immediately as important for the full
flourishing of human life.

Attunement: the ability to enter other minds and learn what they have to offer.

Equipoise: the ability to serenely monitor the movements of one’s own mind and correct for biases and shortcomings.

Metis: the ability to see patterns in the world and derive a gist from complex situations.

Sympathy: the ability to fall into a rhythm with those around you and thrive in groups.

Limerence: This isn’t a talent as much as a motivation. The conscious mind hungers for money and success, but the unconscious mind hungers for those moments of transcendence when the skull line falls away and we are lost in love for another, the challenge of a task or the love of God. Some people seem to experience this drive more powerfully than others.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:35 AM | Permalink

December 2, 2010

The most persecuted religion in the world

Report shows that Christians are the most persecuted religion in the world.

Out of every ten people, seven can not live their faith in full freedom. And the most persecuted religion is Christianity, with at least 200 million people suffering from discrimination.

“Political oppression and discrimination, come from countries like China, from Cuba, from North Korea, and from countries like Vietnam.”


“Places like Saudi Arabia where it's impossible for any Christian or indeed any other group, non-Muslim group, to organize and to have open public prayer. We think of places like Somalia, or we think of Sudan.”


The report also reveals that religious freedom has declined in the United States and Europe by the radicalization of secularism. Especially in countries like Spain, which prohibits the presence of religious symbols in public places. France was cited for the discrimination of Islamic communities and Germany for the hostility of some sectors against the Catholic Church because of its position on family issues and defense of life.

Here's an example of the radicalization of secularism: The Southern poverty Law Center has classified 18 pro-family groups as "hate" groups including the Family Research Council and the National Organization for Marriage.

In response, FRC president Tony Perkins charged that the SPLC was engaging in “a deliberately timed smear campaign” against FRC’s nearly 30 years of action “with civility and passion.”

“We hold to the indisputable fact that the family- a Dad, a Mom, and children - is the best building block of a good society, which is why we oppose efforts to transform it based on personal sexual preference,” he said in a Nov. 24 statement.

He called on the law center to apologize for its “slanderous attack and attempted character assassination.”

Maggie Gallagher, chairman of the board for the National Organization for Marriage, spoke about the SPLC article and list in a Nov. 29 interview with CNA. She called it an “absurd distraction” and a “very sad” move for “a once-great civil rights organization.”

“What we’re seeing now is the next phase of the gay rights movement,” she warned. She noted homosexual rights activist Dan Savage’s claim in the Washington Post that the country should get to a point where same-sex marriage isn’t debatable.

“This is part of the unfolding process of attempting to redefine Christian teaching on sex and marriage as the moral, legal and cultural equivalent of racism.”

“I do believe this is the goal of the architects of the gay marriage movement,” Gallagher stated. “And they’re making it very clear.

In a Nov. 29 e-mail to CNA, Princeton University law professor and National Organization for Marriage chairman emeritus Robert P. George compared the action to Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s smearing of opponents by accusing them of being communist sympathizers.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:18 AM | Permalink

Obsolete and wonderful words

20 Obsolete English Words that Should Make a Comeback

I like "freck" which means to move swiftly or nimbly, "brabble" meaning to quarrel noisily about trifles and "quagswagging" which is the action of shaking to and fro.

And I especially like this wonderful short film of Words.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:12 AM | Permalink

July 29, 2010

"If words fall into disrepair, what will substitute?'

Tony Judt on Words

In “Politics and the English Language,” Orwell castigated contemporaries for using language to mystify rather than inform. His critique was directed at bad faith: people wrote poorly because they were trying to say something unclear or else deliberately prevaricating. Our problem, it seems to me, is different. Shoddy prose today bespeaks intellectual insecurity: we speak and write badly because we don’t feel confident in what we think and are reluctant to assert it unambiguously (“It’s only my opinion…”). Rather than suffering from the onset of “newspeak,” we risk the rise of “nospeak.”

I am more conscious of these considerations now than at any time in the past. In the grip of a neurological disorder, I am fast losing control of words even as my relationship with the world has been reduced to them. They still form with impeccable discipline and unreduced range in the silence of my thoughts—the view from inside is as rich as ever—but I can no longer convey them with ease. Vowel sounds and sibilant consonants slide out of my mouth, shapeless and inchoate even to my close collaborator. The vocal muscle, for sixty years my reliable alter ego, is failing. Communication, performance, assertion: these are now my weakest assets. Translating being into thought, thought into words, and words into communication will soon be beyond me and I shall be confined to the rhetorical landscape of my interior reflections.

Though I am now more sympathetic to those constrained to silence I remain contemptuous of garbled language. No longer free to exercise it myself, I appreciate more than ever how vital communication is to the republic: not just the means by which we live together but part of what living together means. The wealth of words in which I was raised were a public space in their own right—and properly preserved public spaces are what we so lack today. If words fall into disrepair, what will substitute? They are all we have.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:57 PM | Permalink

February 3, 2010

A hustle of brownies

A supremacy of dinosaurs

A dignity of dragons

A fondle of unicorns

A shroud of ghouls

A hustle of brownies

A lawn of gnomes

A clangor of robots

A harem of sexbots

A culture of viruses

If you love new words as much as I, you'll enjoy the Stoakes-Whibley Natural Index of Supernatural  Collective Nouns over at the book of joe.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:42 PM | Permalink

October 8, 2009


"Whatever' is voted the most irritating word in the English language.

Absolutely right.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:28 AM | Permalink

June 3, 2009


 New Cloud

It's not a new kind of cloud, just a rare one that just got its name: Asperatus.    "Asperatus comes from the Latin verb aspero, meaning "to roughen up" or "agitate".  The poet Vergil used it to describe the surface of a choppy sea."

The cloud with no name.

The Royal Meteorological Society is now gathering detailed information for the days and locations where the asperatus clouds have been seen in an attempt to understand exactly what is causing them.

Officials will then apply to the UN's World Meteorological Organisation in Geneva to have the new cloud type considered for addition into the International Cloud Atlas, the system used by meteorologists across the globe.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:18 AM | Permalink

May 20, 2009


A new mental illness that is so destructive that some psychiatrists are urging that bitterness be considered a mental illness  - post traumatic embitterment disorder.  I think we all know or have met people of this sort.

"They feel the world has treated them unfairly. It's one step more complex than anger. They're angry plus helpless," says Dr. Michael Linden, a German psychiatrist who named the behavior.

Embittered people are typically good people who have worked hard at something important, such as a job or a relationship or activity, Linden says. When something unexpectedly awful happens -- they don't get the promotion, the wife files for divorce or they fail to make the Olympic team -- a profound sense of injustice overtakes them. Instead of dealing with the loss with the help of family and friends, they cannot let go of the feeling of being victimized. Almost immediately after the traumatic event, they become angry, pessimistic, aggressive, hopeless haters.

There are only a handful of studies on the behavior, but psychiatrists meeting Monday were in agreement that much more research is needed on identifying and helping these people. One estimate is that 1% to 2% of the population are embittered, says Linden, who has published several studies on the behavior.

"These people usually don't come to treatment because 'the world has to change, not me,' " Linden says. "They are almost treatment resistant.... Revenge is not a treatment."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:34 AM | Permalink

December 11, 2007


Merriam-Webster has chosen "w00t" as the word of the year, blending as it does whimsey and new technology.

w00t, the hybrid of letters and numbers, if you don't know is an exclamation of happiness or triumph, first used by gamers.

Last year, the word of the year was truthiness.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:28 PM | Permalink

February 8, 2007

Making Up Words

Who hasn't used many of the words or phrases listed below?

forever and a day
all corners of the world
it's Greek to me
short shrift
household words
thin air
seen better days,
good riddance,
charmed life,
for goodness sake,
didn't sleep a wink,
in a pickle
heart of gold.

All first came from the mind of William Shakespeare.  A Way with Words.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:01 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

February 6, 2007

Making Up Your Career As You Go Along

Why career planning is a waste of time

Or why your best guess beats careful planning.

In reality, people frequently don't know what they want and psychology has proved it. 

We are very poor at what will make us happy in the future, We "miswant."

The argument about miswanting applies to any area of our lives which involves making a prediction about what we might like in the future. Career planning becomes painful precisely because it's such an important decision and we come to understand that we have only very limited useful information.

Maybe the Chaos Theory of Career Development makes more sense.
if you ask people about their career decisions, almost 70% report that they have been significantly influenced by chance events.

This seems to tie in with Purposive Drift: Making it Up as We Go Along by Richard Oliver at Change This

Your life is not a project plan.  Nobody knows where they will be in five years time.

Life is more open, much messier, more ambiguous, more complex, more mysterious, more surprising and filled with more possibilities for good or for ill than we can possibly imagine.

He argues that we revert to "machine-like' thinking because it promises a world of predictability and certainty to mask the frightening thought of our own fragility.

He says we are all more ignorant than we know and smarter than we think and believes our real compass point  is our sense of well-being.

Making it up as you go along, he calls Purposive Drift and that's a perfectly reasonable, responsible and realistic approach to life.

Seems to be the one I took.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:22 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

January 31, 2007

Battlefield Slang

My favorite battlefield slang from Iraq via Austin Bay

Battle rattle: Slang for combat gear. "Full battle rattle" means wearing and carrying everything (helmet, body armor, weapons).

Beltway clerk: A derisive term for a Washington political operative or civilian politician.

Blackwater: Specifically, a private security firm operating in Iraq. Used as slang, can mean any private security firm. "Gone to Blackwater" indicates that a soldier quit the armed services and went to work for a private security firm.

Blue canoe: Slang for a portable toilet.

Bohica: Bend Over, Here It Comes Again. Pronounced "bo-HEE-ka." Means "we're about to get screwed, as usual." This term was in use in the Army in the 1960s.

Embrace the suck: Phrase heard in OIF1 (the original Operation Iraqi Freedom force). Translation: The situation is bad, but deal with it.

Flash-blasted: Being screamed at or chewed out by the unit's senior noncommissioned officer.

Groundhog Day: Every day of your tour in Iraq.

O dark 30: Pronounced "oh dark thirty." A word play on military time. Means a very early hour during the night. ("We had to get up at oh-dark-thirty.")

PUC: Person Under Custody. ("We got two PUCs on that last raid.")

Turkey peek: To glance around or over an object or surface, such as a corner or wall.

: To get hit hard or get killed.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:18 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

In Another's Skin

What is it like to be autistic?  Take a look at In My Language on YouTube. 

When you watch it, it's  like being in someone else's skin.  Odd, compelling and strange.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:33 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

December 13, 2006

Columella Nasi

33 names of things you never knew had names

via Jonah Goldberg who I think spends more time sniffing out  timewasters and utterly useless bits of information that anyone I know.

minimus, ophryon, rasceta and columella nasis all describe parts of the body. 

Lovely words to impress your friends and family with anytime.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:25 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

May 22, 2006


American researchers have coined a new term. Middlescents are those workers between 35 and 54 who have burned themselves out.

Work Stressful? You may be a middlescent

The middlescent is frustrated, confused and exasperated, finding themselves leaving work feeling "burned out, bottlenecked and bored".

"It is a critical time for people and they have to rethink their whole life. Should they be less ambitious? Should they spend more time with their family?

"The critical time for that used to be well into your 50s, now it's getting younger.

It's what used to be called a mid-life crisis, but it seems to be happening earlier now. I think highly educated people who live in this world of abundance we enjoy today have more opportunities for identity crises throughout their lives. That's a good thing because it's usually a crisis that forces you to assess your life and find new meaning and passion.

I came across this quote today from Peter Drucker and it's such a good question that it's worth asking repeatedly over time.

"What can you and only you do, that if done well, can make a real difference."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:19 PM | Permalink

May 12, 2006

Getting Things Done

It seems like we're in the middle of an epidemic of ADT or attention deficit trait according to Dr. Edward Hallowell and it's making us dumber.

Why can't you pay attention anymore?
the constant and relentless chatter coming from our computers, phones and other high-tech devices is diluting our mental've become so busy attending to so many inputs and outputs that you become increasingly distracted, irritable, impulsive, restless and, over the long term, underachieving.

Multitasking doesn't work either though the attempt to do so can get your adrenaline going. Hallowell says no one really multitasks. You just spend less time on any one thing.

It's the great seduction of the information age. You can create the illusion of doing work and of being productive and creative when you're not. You're just treading water.

Remember frazzing? That's the frantic, ineffective multitasking, typically with the delusion that you're getting a lot done.

The brain doesn't multitask, it toggles among tasks rather than processing all tasks simultaneously.

Says Hallowell
We need to preserve time to stop and think.

If you don't allow yourself to stop and think, you're not getting the best of your brain. What your brain is best equipped to do is to think, to analyze, to dissect and create. And if you're simply responding to bits of stimulation, you won't ever go deep.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:34 AM | Permalink

March 3, 2006


When you hit your funny bone, you say "Ouch" or swear because it somehow relieves the pain.

When someone else sneezes, you say "Gesundheit" or 'God bless you'.

What do you say when someone else hits their funny bone on knee or elbow?

"Uffda" (OOF-dah) is a Swedish onomatopoetic word, a sympathetic exclamation when somebody else is in pain.

According to Howard Reingold in "They Have a Word for It , it combines "Ouch for you" and "Oh, I'm sorry you hurt yourself."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:15 PM | Permalink

February 25, 2006

"New" emotions

We are always interested in "new" emotions. Though I doubt whether there really are any new emotions that are unrelated to our relationship with technology.

After all, we humans are pretty much the same as humans were a thousand, two thousand years ago except we know what's happened since and we build on what's gone before.

We begin to make finer descriptions of and distinctions between feelings. I was quite surprised to learn that "empathy" as a word didn't exist 100 years ago, though "pity" and "sympathy" did.

Elevation is a new word to describe that warm tingling feeling in the chest you feel when seeing, even reading about, acts of kindness or heroism that motivates you to be better.

Now there's idolspize, a word that succinctly describes the tricky emotion between idolizing and despising in the Washington Post.

The best book I know about "new" emotions is "They Have a Word for It : A Lighthearted Lexicon of Untranslatable Words and Phrases by Howard Rheingold.

It's so good that I've decided to create a new category so I can talk about some of them.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:26 PM | Permalink