Living in a Marmalade Nightmare

Here Are Some German Terms That Will You Understand the World Trumpf made

The following text appeared in Salon.Com, which was quoting a site from Alter.Net. Since Our Fuehrer’s family hails from the Vaterland, I thought it was appropriate to let you in on it.

1. Fernweh 

Fernweh, or “distance pain,” is like the opposite of homesickness. It’s the feeling of wanting to be elsewhere, anywhere but where you are at this moment. The fernweh many Americans feel today is a bit like wanderlust, minus the glamour, and with the added fear that you may be harshly judged as an American traveling abroad in the time of Trump.

2. Weltschmerz

Weltschmerz translates literally to “world pain,” and boy oh boy, does that say it all. It’s the state of weariness one feels at the state of the world. Some of us may have felt a constant state of weltschmerz since Nov. 9, 2016.

3. Kummerspeck

If your state of weltschmerz has been really getting to you, it’s possible you’ve put on a few extra pounds of kummerspeck, or literally, “grief bacon.” Know that you’re at least in good company: last year, Barbra Streisand, Judd Apatow and others complained they’d gained a “Trump 10” in the months following the election. Eat your feelings, indeed.

4. Kuddelmuddel

This wonderful heap of syllables evokes chaos or a hopelessly messy, unstructured state. Sounds like the White House as told by Michael Flynn.

5. Fuchsteufelswild

This is a state of unfiltered, primal rage. You may have felt it over the past year while listening to any White House press conference, hearing Trump describe Haiti, El Salvador and many African nations as “shithole countries,” seeing the president troll Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on social media…or really, any time at all.

6. Fremdschaemen

Ever felt ashamed on behalf of a member of the Trump White House? Like the time Kellyanne Conway told Fox viewers to “go buy Ivanka’s stuff”? Or when Trump claimed his inauguration speech literally made the clouds part and the sun come out? That’s fremdschaemen.

7. Backpfeifengesicht

In German, this means “a face that deserves to be punched.” Insert your own joke here.

Words Words Words

We Are Losing Words All the Time

You can probably tell that I love words. Sometimes I tend to use words are are sesquipedalian (a foot and a half long), even though I risk losing some of my readers. This post is based on a story on the BBC News websie entitled “Twenty-Six Words We Don’t Want to lose.” I won’t throw all twenty-six at you, just the ones I particularly like. The following are from The Cabinet of Linguistic Curiosities by Paul Anthony Jones:

  • Beard-second. The approximate length a man’s beard hair grows in one second. The Jones book pegs this at 5 nanometers. As one who would have no beard hair unless I took my testosterone externally (having no pituitary gland), I can’t believe this is a useful measure.
  • Charette. This refers to a period of intense work or creativity to meet a deadline. In French, thy would be working en charette, “in the cart.”
  • Finger-post. In 18th century slang, this referred to parsons, as they pointed out the path of salvation to others without necessarily undertaking the journey themselves.
  • Mountweasel. I particularly like this concept. According to the BBC website:

Fictitious entries added to a book to set a trap for would-be plagiarists are known as ‘nihilartikels’ (literally ‘nothing-articles’) or ‘mountweazels’, the name of an Ohio-born fountain designer and photographer named Lillian Virginia Mountweazel who was listed in the 1975 edition of the New Columbia Encyclopedia. Despite her renowned photographs of rural American mailboxes and her tragic death in an explosion while on an assignment for Combustibles magazine, Ms Mountweazel never actually existed.

  • Proditomania. Here is a good word for Trumpf staffers. It refers to the irrational belief that everyone around you is a traitor—though, in the Executive Branch that belief might not be so irrational.
  • Wantum. A blend of “want” and “quantum”—a term invented by Samuel Beckett to mean “a quantifiable deficiency or desire.”

The BBC writers also propose the following useful words:

  • Hunchweather. Weather cold enough to make one walk outdoors all hunched up.
  • Scurryfunge. The rushed attempt to clean up one’s dwelling place when company is expected imminently.
  • Frowst. Extra time spent in bed during a Sunday. This is is 19th century schoolboy slang.
  • Shivviness. The uncomfortable feeling of wearing new underwear (especially when that underwear is made of wool).

Finally, here are three odd words—which I have not found reason to use in my fifty-odd years as an adult:

  • Medioxumous. Of or relating to the middle rank of deities.
  • Septemfluous. Flowing in seven streams, used in certain theological treatises to refer to Christ’s blood.
  • Stercoricolous. Inhabiting dung, usually used of certain beetles. This last was once used by a writer friend to describe my housekeeping.

Now, may your writing henceforth be more picturesque!




Quisquilian Diversivolence

The New Face of American Politics?

The New Face of American Politics?

The term come from a Futility Closet posting entitled “In a Word.” “Quisquilian” means worthless or trivial. “Diversivolence” is the noun form of an adjective meaning desiring strife. Those two words together pretty much summarize the 2016 election—most especially if you add Hillary’s phrase, “Basket of Deplorables.”

Obviously new terms are welcome, if the standard old ones put us in the mess we are in. Since the news media have signally failed to make any sense out of the this grim period, we need new ways to describe the, uh, situation.

I will attempt to search out new terms and bring them to your attention. Perhaps it will entertain you as well as add new shades of meaning.


Now Which of These Can Be Considered as Medioxumous?

Now Which of These Can Be Considered as Medioxumous?

I was always a word freak. Even from my middle school years, I studied vocabulary books to increase my store of words. Imagine my delight when, in 1968, as a graduate student in film at UCLA, I got a job proofreading two computerized transcripts of Merrian-Webster dictionaries.

One interesting wrinkle was that my predecessor in my job, a young lady, was murdered by a graduate student in film at UCLA. (It wasn’t me, honest!)

In the process of proofreading thousands of pages of dictionary entries, I collected a few interesting words that don’t make it into print much these days:

  • Septemfluous: “flowing in seven streams,” describing the blood of the crucified Christ.
  • Medioxumous: “of or relating to the middle rank of deities”
  • Rotl: “any of various units of weight of Mediterranean and Near Eastern countries ranging from slightly less than one pound to more than six pounds”
  • And, coming to us from Welsh, cwm and crwth (not misprints), meaning “valley” and “crowd” respectively, and pronounced “coom” and “crooth.”

I have a few words to add to these from the 1755 edition of Dr. Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary of the English Language. They don’t seem to have made it into subsequent editions, though the Futility Closet managed to ferret them out:

  • Finger-flinger: “a pretender to astrology and prediction,” not to be confused with an irate motorist
  • Pissburnt: “stained with urine”
  • Centuriator: “a name given to historians, who distinguish times by centuries”
  • Longimanous: “long-handed; having long hands”
  • Overyeared: “too old,” like the writer of this blog

The illustration above is by the talented BurenErdene at DeviantArt.


A Plethora of New Words

Whom Do You Think Is Going to Win This Conversation?

Mansplaining: Whom Do You Think Is Going to Win This Argument?

The Oxford Dictionaries have released a list of new words that will start appearing in its online dictionaries and—who knows?—eventually the printed editions. I have indicated some of the more interesting ones below in alphabetical order:

  • amazeballs, adj.: (informal) very enjoyable, impressive or attractive. I can’t imagine anyone but a salesman using this one.
  • bro hug, n.: (U.S. informal) friendly embrace between two men. No tongues involved!
  • clickbait, n.: (informal) (on the Internet) content whose main purpose is to attract attention and draw visitors to a particular web page. I am excessively familiar with this phenomenon.
  • cord cutting, n.: (informal) practice of cancelling a pay television subscription or landline phone connection in favor of an alternative Internet-based or wireless service. Unrelated to childbirth.
  • cray, adj. (also cray cray): (US informal) crazy. I wonder if there is any tie-in with Cray Supercomputers.
  • dox, v.: (informal) search for and publish private data about (an individual) on the Internet, typically with malicious intent. Look as you will, you will probably not discover anything about my incontinence.
  • FML, abbrev.: (vulgar slang) f*ck my life! (used to express dismay at a frustrating personal situation).
  • hate-watch, v.: (informal) watch (a television program) for the sake of the enjoyment derived from mocking or criticizing it. Just about everything that’s televised falls into this category for me.
  • humblebrag, n. & v.: (informal) (make) an ostensibly modest or self-deprecating statement whose actual purpose is to draw attention to something of which one is proud. I would never call attention to myself this way. Honest!
  • hyperconnected, adj.: characterized by the widespread or habitual use of devices that have Internet connectivity. In future, people will look at this as one of the dominant cultural features of our time.
  • listicle, n.: an Internet article presented in the form of a numbered or bullet-pointed list. I guess this post would qualify as a listicle.
  • mansplain, v.: (informal) (of a man) explain something to someone, typically a woman, in a manner regarded as condescending or patronizing. This is my favorite. I’ve never heard of it before, but it’s going to become part of my vocabulary henceforth.
  • side-eye, n.: (informal , chiefly US): a sidelong glance expressing disapproval or contempt. Oops, this is something I do a lot.
  • throw shade, phrase: (US informal) publicly criticize or express contempt for someone. This is the main activity at Faux News.
  • YOLO, abbrev.: (informal) you only live once (expressing the view that one should make the most of the present moment)… And here I thought it was just a county in Northern California.

To see the complete list as published by Salon.Com, click here. WDYT? (What Do You Think?)


Words, Words, Words!

Words, words, words! They shut one off from the universe. Three quarters of the time one’s never in contact with things, only with the beastly words that stand for them.—Aldous Huxley