~ ”, ˁ  ‘ ( ¨– ¸

Some words I like or find interesting, plus random facts, thoughts and stuff. (I have more about words in French on my old blog.)

acetylene : I first saw this word in a poem and I think it’s one of my favourites. Not because of what it means, but it looks and sounds nice.

acrasia : a lack of self-control, pushing one to act against their better judgement.

ambiphilia : attraction to both females/femininity and males/masculinity.
→ ambiphile. Compare: androphilia, gynephilia

androphilia : attraction to males or masculinity.
→ androphile. Compare: ambiphilia, gynephilia

aptonym : a proper name that reflects the person or thing’s characteristics, often to a funny effect.

blue : English and most other languages usually group e.g. cyan and ultramarine together within the “blue” category, but Italian, Russian and Hebrew have separate words for them. (This is not the only cultural difference of course; see Wikipedia’s article about colour terms.)

chocolatine : one of the names of a French chocolate-filled, croissant-like pastry — called differently depending on the region, many say « pain au chocolat » instead, some « couque au chocolat ». It’s become a sort of national meme to quarrel over the “right” way to name it — unfortunately most people just defend their local name. Nobody says « chocolatine » where I live but I think we should, it’s a nicer word and it’s unambiguous. « Pain au chocolat » is a misnomer, it literally means “chocolate bread” and that’s not what a chocolatine is.

contranyms are words that can mean both one thing and its contrary (!), depending on the context. Like “host”.

cooties could be an untranslatable word; we simply don’t have this concept in French! Foreign names designating foreign concepts often get borrowed, but wouldn’t that sound awkward in this case? So I looked it up, and it seems translators often use “lice” instead.

cryptomnesia : “When a forgotten memory returns without it being recognized as such by the subject, who believes it is something new and original. It is a memory bias whereby a person may falsely recall generating a thought, an idea, a tune, or a joke, not deliberately engaging in plagiarism but rather experiencing a memory as if it were a new inspiration.” — Wikipedia

dépaysement (French) : the pleasant feeling of being away from home, living something that’s different from your daily routine.

dodelinaire (French) : a word I dreamt one night, it doesn’t have a meaning yet! The verb dodeliner means to gently nod or shake one’s head, so perhaps it could designate a song that makes you do this?

dolorism : the belief that pain and suffering have inherent value. Often a pretty important idea in Christianity, even if they don’t call it that. (Also see: fair world fallacy.) The word seems to be a lot more common in French (dolorisme) than in English, but the idea shouldn’t be.

dust bunnies are called dust sheep in French, wool mice in German, dust cats in Italian and Hungarian, dust rats in Swedish and wool poodles in Finnish!

frileuse / frileux (French) : said of a person who is particularly sensitive to cold weather. We don’t have the equivalent for hot weather yet, but I wish somebody came up with one (I’ve been trying to find one myself) as we’re going to be needing it more and more.

God : do you mean the Christian God? The God of any religion? Any sentient creator? Any entity that can be said to have “created the world” in any sense? How far do you draw the line, and can this vagueness or ambiguity be a good or a bad thing depending on the context? I honestly don’t know.

grue : some languages do not distinguish between green and blue, so linguists sometimes use the word “grue” to refer to that spectrum. “青” in Japanese for instance can mean either green or blue! (Though they have of course come up with other words for green or blue exclusively now.)

grue and bleen : Philosopher Nelson Goodman came up with the concepts of “grue” and “bleen” for a thought experiment about induction — in this context, “grue” means green when observed before a specific time and blue when observed after that time, and vice versa for “bleen”. Would it be right to assume that grass is grue?

gynephilia : attraction to females or femininity.
→ gynephile. Compare: ambiphilia, androphilia.

hurluberlu (French) : a weird person you can’t take seriously.

hypocognition : the inability to articulate, identify, communicate and/or interpret something because one lacks the adequate vocabulary. (One of the reasons why I’m interested in words!)

indigo : Don’t feel like you have to draw a blue-violet “indigo” layer between blue and purple when you’re drawing a rainbow! Newton only distinguished seven colours in his rainbow because he wanted it to match the notes on a Western music scale. Also his “blue” was light blue/cyan and his “indigo” was dark blue (cf. “blue” entry and this Wikipedia section).

just-world fallacy or just-world hypothesis : the belief that the world is fair despite all evidence to the contrary. I see that everywhere now, it seems to affect so many things — victim blaming, the idea that hard work always pays off, that successful people must have deserved it, religious beliefs where believers make themselves suffer, karma, etc. Interestingly though, Wikipedia also lists something called “mean world syndrome” in which some people tend to think of the world as worse than it is?

Klamottenkiste : I got an orange lollipop for remembering this word once in middle school German class! I gave the lollipop to someone else and never used the word again, but it was nice of the teacher.

Laádan is a feminist constructed language (conlang) invented by Suzette Haden Elgin; this list of Laádan vocabulary contains a lot of words that would be useful to have in other languages too!

Lamuya Zimina isn’t my irl name but it feels like my name anyway. If you're wondering where it comes from — I just put some letters together until I liked the result.

meatspace : The physical, “real” world. Sounds gross but for somebody who was never really comfortable with physical or real stuff, I think it conveys well the distate I can have for it sometimes.

monster : I really don’t like how this word conflates aesthetics with morals. I often feel like a monster in some respects, but not others.

necronym : the name of a dead person. There are some interesting customs about this — in some cultures it’s common to give the name to the deceased’s descendants, in others that is a taboo.

nostophobia : dislike or repugnance of the past. The opposite of nostalgia.

or : such a simple word, but why is it that so few languages distinguish between the inclusive “or” and the exclusive “or”?

papillonner (French) : literally “to butterfly”; to go from one thing to another in a carefree manner, never settling down for long; perhaps changing subjects in a conversation, switching browser tabs, going from one painting to another in a museum, sleeping around etc. Not pejorative.

paralipomena : supplementary literary material (not very useful but I like how it sounds)

perfection seems to be a very misleading and problematic concept to me. The idea of a perfect circle makes sense; the idea of a perfect person doesn’t.

proprioception : the sense of knowing/feeling your own body and its position in space, e.g. where your legs are without touching them.

quale (plural : qualia) : a subjective, conscious experience — e.g. the experience of seeing the colour fuchsia, of touching a handkerchief, of feeling sad, etc.

same : this word is ambiguous in English (as is « même » in French). German differentiates between selbe (= the entity in question) and gleiche (= a different, but identical, entity).

shibboleth : a word that is only used (or pronounced a certain way) by a certain group of people. For instance, during the first World War, a religious man — Canon Wetterlé — was able to tell French people who spoke a Germanic dialect (Alsatians) and German people apart by showing them an umbrella and asking them “What’s this?”. German people called it a “Regenschirm” or a “Schirm” depending on their region; only Alsatians called it a “barabli”.

sice, cinque, cater, trey, deuce, ace : respectively 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 on a die, card or domino; based on the French numbers six, cinq, quatre, trois, deux, un.

somehow is a word I miss not having in French. There are ways to say this of course, but they’re usually much longer and awkward.

unununium : provisional name for chemical element no. 111, now properly named roentgenium.

weird : why does this word have a negative connotation anyway?

ziggerin : a made-up object that doesn’t exist in real life, invented for a test for example.

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