Missing Words

Tobias developed “Quink” as the opposite of trauma, when an important event changes your life forever, but in a positive way, instead of a damaging one. Rob Brezney popularized the term pronoia, the notion that the world is secretly out to help you have a wonderful time and support you. But there are numerous more terms needed.

Abigail text me the other day that she was meeting with her sexual wellness student group and they were looking for the term for a woman who enjoys sex, has a healthy relationship with it and has it often. This word does not exist (please comment if you know otherwise), but the derogatory terms for sexually active women go on and on.

Websters dictionary claims that “sexism” did not enter our vocabulary until 1969.  This has always amazed me.  What was the conversation about gender equality like, before these basic ideas we labeled?  i am confident that they happened, and i am convinced they were weaker and hampered.

My utopia consists of super cooperators and super appreciators.  And especially in the later, English is failing us.  We have a constrained vocabulary around appreciation.  No terms for smaller appreciations, or life saving/changing ones.  There is no term for an appreciation which brings with it an obligation to repay somehow.  No term to mark continued persistent efforts, or to commemorate spontaneous acts of good will.

Having new words is the first small but critical step towards changing the culture.  We have had the term compersion, for quite some years now, but most polyamorous folx are still taking baby steps when it comes to appreciating their lovers other lovers, much less being excited about them or feeling really good about them.

What new word are you making up today?  And how can we use it to craft a conversation which takes us to where we want to be?

About paxus

a funologist, memeticist and revolutionary. Can be found on Wikipedia and in locations of imminent calamity. buckle up, there is going to be some rough sledding.

19 responses to “Missing Words”

  1. Kenna J says :

    I like this post. I think new words are far more than trivial in changing the culture, though. To use different words, you have to use different thoughts.

    • paxus says :

      Dearest Kenna:

      You are right, i changed the post from trivial to “small but critical”. THanks for your thoughts.

      Paxus in Fairport NY
      11 No Restart 2KXI

  2. shadiek says :

    Have you ever heard of or played with Google Ngrams? Google books is attempting to digitize all the books in the world. They have so far digitized 15 million. Of those, the 5 million best are available as the data set for Google Ngram viewer, which allows you to see the distribution of words and phrases throughout publication history. I bring this up to sadly put your ‘we have had the term compersion for quite some years now’ into some perspective. Here is a link:

    http://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=compersion%2Cpolyamory%2Chobgoblin&year_start=1990&year_end=2008&corpus=0&smoothing=0

    to an Ngram charting the relative frequency in publication, from 1990 to current, the words compersion (less than 40 occurrences, effectively 0) polyamory, and hobgoblin (which should be a reletively uncommon word and I chose to show that it’s still more used than polyamory)

  3. pangeaibelieve says :

    we cant rely on words as the sole(soul) form of communication. Words are subjective..their definitions are only perceived relative to experience. They suggest a path, but we have to tap the walkway. This society is pretty removed from having faith in that.

  4. Abigail says :

    Yes. The lack of these words says a bunch about where we are as a culture. My students decided that we will ask for new words to describe women who enjoy sex at each workshop we do across campus. Who knows, maybe some fraternity man will come up with a positive one we want to keep. We can hope the exercise itself will be illuminating.

    • paxus says :

      i am convinced the exercise will be illuminating at the least. And i think we should expect to have to coin this ourselves. This seems like the perfect topic for a small prize competition with a panel of expert judges. Any volunteers? And i agree there is no reason to come up with gender specific terms, one word for both would do fine.

  5. Sara Tansey says :

    i want this word. and then i want to be yelling it all over the place, teaching men and women how to embrace it. about how to honor it. will be thinking about what it might be. thanks for reminding us our language is so limited and limiting.

  6. Sean Crist says :

    A word that I’ve been using for a long time is “werny”. If you’re making a werny face, it means you have the sort of tolerant, semi-amused smirk which can go with the words, “Oh, very funny!”

  7. Ken says :

    While we’re at it, I would like a better word for men too. “Stud” is the best one I can think of, and that has plenty of baggage we could live without. (Are there better words for men that I’m not thinking of?)

    And/or: a gender-neutral word would be really nice here too — it seems less likely to get bogged down in old ideas of gender.

  8. Lisa-Marie says :

    Sex positive!

    • paxus says :

      Dearest Lisa-Marie:

      Sex positive is a great term for describing both genders attitude. And what i think we are looking for is a word to replace “slut”. So the conversation could go

      “She is such a slut”
      “No, she is sex positive”

      And it does not have the same punch as

      “She is too pushy”
      “No, she is a leader”

      or

      “She is an angry bitch”
      “No, she is a righteous goddess”

      “Se positive: is the best we have, and i want more.

      Paxus on the Erie Canal

  9. alina ahh ever says :

    a few words i’ve been using awhile:

    kundilate and kundilation instead of masturbate and masturbation

    plerk — as a combination of play and work

    whee for we

    ahh for i or I

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