An inexplicable need to have words which help me come to terms with phenomena with previously unknown names.

Terms, this well intended pun highlights what I mean. I need terms which identify a concept or phenomena in one word or a few so that it is neatly packaged and easier to relate than spewing out constant examples and descriptions of it.

What is “it” that I am talking about? Well, I am addressing that sudden, temporary circumstance where you stare at a word which:
1. You know for certain you spelled it right.
2. Despite this knowledge the word looks wrong or even foreign for a time.

I searched for a good while, and although I did not find a specific term for this temporary cognitive lexical lapse, I did find a term which covers that and much more.

Jamais vu which is French for “never seen” is the phenomenon of experiencing a situation that one recognizes but that nonetheless seems very unfamiliar.

This dogged search for terms lead me on to the well-known deja vu, and a lesser-known term but more often encountered situation, presque vu. All three terms were coined by Emile Boirac.

Deja vu - French for “already seen” is the experience of feeling sure that one has already witnessed or experienced a current situation, even though the exact circumstances of the previous encounter are uncertain and were perhaps imagined or dreamed.

Presque vu - French for “almost seen” phenomenon is the failure to retrieve a word from memory, combined with partial recall and the feeling that retrieval is imminent. The phenomenon’s is also known as tip-of-the-tongue from the saying, “It’s on the tip of my tongue.”

I looked for a bit longer just to cover the bases, so to speak, and another issue has now been named for me: semantic satiation.

Semantic satiation - (also semantic saturation) is a cognitive neuroscience phenomenon in which repetition causes a word or phrase to temporarily lose meaning for the listener, who can only process the speech as repeated meaningless sounds.

Children have done this to me countless times. And now I can tell them two words which label the issue that they have caused.

Now before you start telling me that this is such an illuminating discovery, let me just say this: I did what any self-respecting American would do. I became completely distracted from my original purpose, using my computer and tablet to draw, to systematically hunt down something meaningless and feel satisfied after wasting nearly an hour at this endeavor. Then I forgot what I had been meaning to do beforehand.

There should be a term for that too. There probably is. I should look it up.

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  1. catterhatter posted this