|Words from fiction that I find useful:
||[Oct. 12th, 2015|09:55 am]
1. Grok -- Heinlein, STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND. This is probably the most widespread fictional-to-real word I know of in English. Because it's useful to have a word to mean "understand something on such an instinctive level that it becomes part of you." I can understand electromagnetism, for instance; I can predict what will happen in various situations, I can figure out how to make different things happen, and I can generally use it, but I don't really grok it. I don't have to; "understanding" is good enough for most things, because that means you can use it; to grok something is to have the knowledge be instinctive.|
2. Chortle -- Lewis Caroll, THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS, in the poem "Jaberwocky". We have lots of different words for different types of laughter, and they all express different things. A giggle, a guffaw, a chuckle, a cackle, and a snicker are all completely different. As is a chortle.
Honestly, we don't have ENOUGH words for different kinds of laughter, or, if we do, I'm unaware of some of them. What's the word for "to laugh in relief", for instance? We've all done it, I think, but I can't think of a word for it. From its derivation, you'd think that "chortle" would be for THAT laugh, but it's not. Still, it's useful.
3. Hrair, Richard Adams, WATERSHIP DOWN. I am surprised that "hrair" HASN'T entered into the more common lexicon; I find it useful to have a word for "A number of things that I would have to count in order to know how many there are." If I see one, two, three, or four objects, I know there are one, two, three, or four of them. However, if I see five of them, unless they're placed as two, two, and one, or three and two, I will need to count them in order to know that there are five of them, and not six or even seven. I'm thinking of this right now because I just saw a posse of turkeys crossing the road, and I'm pretty sure there were ten plus or minus two of them. But I don't know for sure, because I didn't have time to count them. If I'd seen four turkeys, I'd know there were four of them. Six, and I wouldn't. Eight to twelve? The best I can do is "ten plus or minus two", and I don't promise that I'm 100% correct even about THAT.
I can distinguish 1, 2, 3, or 4 at a glance without counting. If you place them in 2, 3, or 4 groups of 2, 3, or 4, as compactly as possible, I can probably distinguish many of them without counting.
Once you get to five, though, you're into hrair territory, and I have to actually count them. I find that a useful word. I mean, there are definitely visual differences between 12 of something, 144 of something, and 1728 of something -- although I'm not sure I could tell the difference between 1728 of something and 20736 of something, without breaking it into pieces before guessing. But I'd never be able to tell the EXACT number without counting.
12 things presented as four piles of three things? Sure, I'd be able to tell that without counting. 12 things placed in a heap? Or even
12 things presented as a six piles of two things? Nope. 12 things presented as four piles of two piles of three things? Maybe.