It’s a Real Word
Language says a lot about a culture.
My sister and I were talking about this the other day.
“Did you know there are over a hundred Norwegian words for ’snow?’” We searched Google to make sure the rumor is true. Sure enough, it was all right there in a huge list. Some examples:
Tine (it’s melting)
Slatter (it’s wet)
Fana (it’s heavy)
And that’s where we noticed Scotland’s enormous list of ‘rain’ words, such as:
Spindrift (spraying rain)
Smue (thick drizzle)
Our observation? They spend a LOT of time analyzing the weather!
And what about the English language? Emotions! Incredibly, there are over 3000 English words to describe how a person is feeling. Think we spend a lot of time trying to feel understood??
You’d assume these words would be evenly distributed! Half for negative emotions and half for positive emotions. But there’s no 50-50 here:
Negative words 2000 Positive words 1000
The math isn’t hard. Two-thirds of our words for emotions are DOWNERS.
That’s a majority, folks. It appears most of our conversations focus on the LOW moods.
Ya think?? You know how it is…We sit around talking to our friends and co-workers. What’s going wrong, what we’d change if we could but feel powerless to do so. What (and who) gets on our last nerve. Usually we share a laugh or two about it. Then we walk away feeling connected, normalized, validated.
And dialogue finished, the chatter remains in our heads. Ruminating on our negative feelings, our brains want to scan for the precise combination. We’ll feel better when we get a handle on it.
“Frustrated and confused.”
“Restless and lost.”
“Ignored, isolated, alone.”
Man, just writing those words made me depressed!
Of course we need to talk about this stuff. So, it’s all well and good. How can we process it if we don’t lean into it?? But in all fairness to the Health and Sanity Department (I just made that up) shouldn’t we also give some focus to our celebrations and joys?
At least half the time, anyway…
That’s when my sister and I got laughing about a nice short word that perfectly describes a negative emotion—
Such a rich word, isn’t it? In one quick burst of sound, one can express the precise feeling, knowing that everyone understands somehow.
“I feel so….argh!”
We noticed this in comic books. It’s a well-used word! Comic characters don’t spend a lot of time mulling over their inner feelings. They just say “Argh!” and get it out all at once. They have a way of getting right to the point. Like that guy who gushes steam from his ears. No explanation necessary. You just know he’s mad!!
Like a giant purge.
“Argh” has versatile spellings, too. Stretched out with lots of rrrr’s and ggg’s and hhh’s, it can be hollered out loud or softly muttered. It all depends on the degree of exasperation.
Like this: “Arrrggghhh!”
So here are some real-life situations that didn’t seem so funny at the time, where this wonderful word comes in handy:
- After three gloriously uninterrupted shopping hours at The Mall, you emerge into the parking lot to a sea of shining vehicles. Your car is among them. You’re pretty sure.
- You pour Lean Kashi into your cereal bowl, feeling rather proud to have passed on the Cinnamon Toast Crunch. That’s when you discover there’s no milk in the refrigerator. But there’s donuts.
- Approaching airport security, hoping the rumor is true that Shoe Removal is no longer mandatory, you spot your brand new 3.6 oz bottle of Hazelnut Hand Lotion lying inside your handbag.
- Sitting in the car waiting for the stop SIGN to turn green.
Yes, it’s true. It’s my life!!
Now if my readers think I’m advocating changing human anguish into comic strip efficiency (or worse, pirate lingo), I’ve given the wrong impression. We need thousands of words to describe our complexity! It’s vital that we process our feelings, to identify and discuss and ponder the troublesome and disturbing. It just seems like we could all help each other intensify The Happy Times, too. Maybe we could start asking each other, “What’s going right in your world today?”
Maybe our own culture could use a little change. Not snow or rain. Just a few more positive words.
And for those occasions when you or someone else needs a shoulder to cry on? Check this out:
is having a moment! Go ahead and embrace it.