The working vocabulary of the average 14-year-old has declined in the last 50 years from 25,000 words to 10,000. Language reflects the depth of our human experience. Because we think in words, are we losing the capacity to say what we feel? Like, whatever.
When was the last time you ‘yoisho’ed? I’m betting it was more recently than you think.
Like at the top of a mountain after a long hike, on a bed of clover. Or at the end of a work week that just felt like it would never end. Accountants experience it every April 16th, when tax season finally wraps up. Definitely, Santa Claus has his yoisho moments on each and every December 26th.
(phr.) A Japanese expression used when flopping onto a chair or bed or floor, usually after a hard day’s work, combined with a grunt or loud exhale.
Photo by unknown photographer via Wikimedia Commons.
It’s one of those nifty words that isn’t easily translated into English, but apparently, some Google-translated documents and/or books that have been translated into or from Japanese will translate our expression ‘sheesh!’ into ‘yoisho!’
Growlery is a word invented by Charles Dickens in his 1852 serial, Bleak House.
The author, whose work could best be described as … um, well, “Dickensian,” wrote, “This, you must know, is the growlery. When I am out of humour, I come and growl here.”
A place to turn the worst of times into the best of times.
A retreat to go to when you’re feeling out of sorts.
A place of refuge, used to get yourself out of a funk.
A den, or a lair, with which to prowl with one’s growler out. (Urban Dictionary)
What’s your personal growlery? A bathtub, filled with bubbles and a glass of wine? A windowseat with a stack of TBR novels? A pup tent in the mountains? A family dinner with everyone at home all at once for a change? An easel with new paints set up in the garden?
“A study or growlery is just as dear to a man’s heart as a boudoir is to a woman’s; and the master of the house deserves to have some corner which shall be his very own, whither he can retire when he wishes to read or work, or simply smoke and rest, or receive business visitors, blissfully undisturbed by the rest of the household.” – Lambert’s Suburban Architecture, 1894
Man cave? But we disagree … women need a growlery, too!
Don’t even pretend you’ve never experienced and/or displayed this one.
You know you have.
Probably when you were hungry (i.e. hangry = the state of being hungry and angry all at once).
Or maybe when you’ve just had “one of those days.” You know the ones: when you lose things, the dog gets out, the children get sick, the deadline looms, and you just can’t take one more thing slipping sideways on you.
What is alharaca, anyway?
(n.) an extraordinary or violent emotional reaction to something small and insignificant.
Can you say hissy-fit?
Photo by Fox Film Corporation via Wikimedia Commons.
Embarrassing as a moment of alharaca can be in hindsight, we’ve all been there. You don’t have to be Nellie Olsen, Miss Piggy, or the Queen of Hearts; even the least drama-queen-like of us farmgirls can relate.
As a wise woman once said, “Pardon me while I overreact irrationally.”
What the heck? What kind of a word is this? It sounds like the name of a Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show winner.
“Here, Lord Bumfuzzle, let’s trim the fluff before the talent portion!”
photo by Blackoranges via Wikimedia Commons
Well, if you’re confused, you’re not far off from the actual description.
Origin: Bumfuzzle comes from bum-, an expressive prefix, perhaps to be identified with the initial syllable of bamboozle, and fuzzle “to confuse,” perhaps expressive alteration of fuddle. It’s been used in English since around 1900.
Definitions for bumfuzzle
Chiefly South Midland and Southern U.S., to confuse or fluster.
“This holyfied lady’s jest tryin’ to bumfuzzle us.”
– Joan Hess, Mischief in Maggody, 1988
“This is an attempt to bumfuzzle,” said the President.
– William Safire, “On Language: The Way We Live Now,” New York Times Magazine, November 14, 1999
The early bird gets it. No, not the worm (but maybe that, too). He gets the meaning of gokotta, and so do the campers and glampers in your life, the early-morning joggers, and the bright-eyed and bushy-tailed toddlers. (What? Your toddlers don’t have tails? Weird.)
(n.) lit. “early cuckoo morning”; the act of rising early in the morning to hear the birds sing. An at-dawn picnic. Appreciating nature and the sunrise.
Origin: Swedish (there is no real English substitute).
Photo by Michael Maggs via Wikimedia Commons.
So, instead of hitting snooze for the third time next weekend, set your programmable coffeemaker for an earlier hour than usual, pull on some flannel, and go sit outside. See who else is up. Listen.
Oh, and don’t forget the picnic part. Wakey, wakey, eggs and bac-y.
Was your first love one of these? Have you ever found yourself crushing on one when you yourself were just a girl?
Pronunciation: hob–uh l-dee-hoi
n. “clumsy, ungainly, or awkward youth”
1530s, of uncertain origin. First element is probably hob in its sense of “clown, prankster” (hobgoblin), the second element perhaps is Middle French de haye “worthless, untamed, wild,” literally “of the hedge.”
Image by State Library of New South Wales Collection via Wikimedia Commons.
There’s something inherently loveable about a hobbledehoy, isn’t there?
After all, wasn’t Gilbert Blythe a bit of a hobbledehoy when he first met Anne with an E?
Probably all the great tall, dark, and handsome figures in our daydreams were clumsy, perpetually awkward youths … once upon a time.
For most of us, the process of learning English happened at a time of life when we weren’t as inclined to question the rationale behind unreasonable (and sometimes ridiculous) spellings.
But, consider the task of trying your tongue at English as an outsider, whether tourist or immigrant.
Here’s a simple sentence to put it in perspective:
“I would like to buy a certain fruit for my recipe.”
Easy for you to read, right?
Now, read through it as someone who may know the basic RULES of English, but doesn’t yet grasp the commonly accepted American notion of tossing all of those rules out the window …
“I wooled like to bu-yee a kertane froo-it for my re-sipe.”
Something like that, anyway.
photo by Evan-Amos via Wikimedia Commons
While it’s tough not to chuckle, you can see how utterly frustrating it must be to decipher the everyday dialog we take for granted.
“While there are clear trends in words non-native speakers mispronounce (due to irregularities in English spelling), words that are in principle hard to pronounce depend much more heavily on each individual speaker’s linguistic background,” explains Czech linguist and mathematician Jakub Marian, author of Most Common Mistakes in English. “Words containing an ‘h’ (as in ‘hello’) are difficult to pronounce for native speakers of romance languages and Russian, since there is no ‘h’-sound in their mother tongues. Words containing a ‘th’-sound (either as in ‘think’ or as in that’) are hard for almost everybody apart from Spaniards and Greeks, whose languages are two of the few that contain those sounds.”
Now that your word wheels are spinning with this new perspective, try a few more words that Marian and many others deem difficult for non-native speakers:
P.S. Allow me to punctuate this post with a poem called “The Chaos” by Gerard Nolst Trenité in 1922. It brilliantly boasts hundreds of peculiar English pronunciations.
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