Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Being Mindful

 Have you ever noticed how words that you have never noticed sometimes suddenly seen to appear everywhere?  Recently, in a zoom group I attended, one of the other attendees said at the close of our meeting, "I guess we all need to be more mindful about that."  Suddenly, I realized just how frequently mindfulness had appeared in conversations and interviews on programs I was watching.  'Is that a new term?' I wondered.  I reached for my trusty "Webster's Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary" that resides on a shelf arms length away from my desk, with its publication date of 1965.  

There it was!  " 1.  Mindful, bearing in mind; AWARE  2. inclined to be aware--mindfully / adverb --mindfulness / noun. "  What a great word; yet, it had not been part of my vocabulary.  Its meaning is clear enough, but I simply had not integrated it into my own use.

I consulted the internet dictionaries and found 'aware' as the predominate synonym, but 'attentive' joined the definition, as well as an examination of its current importance.  The idea of mindfulness has roots in Buddhist and Hindu thought, and includes 'acceptance' as well as 'awareness' in its meaning.

I learned that mindful and mindfulness were not new words, but the social movement of being more mindful, combined with the idea of gaining understanding, and through understanding, acceptance, is a current cultural phenomenon. 

On the other hand, new words are blossoming all around us!  Since I had used my old Webster's Dictionary to check the meaning of mindful, I chose to check the current Merriam-Webster Dictionary,  not for the meaning of existing words but rather for the addition of new words to the dictionary.  I discovered that for April 2020, 535 new words were added.  Not surprisingly, Covid related words topped the list.  These words included:  Self-isolation, Physical distancing, Contactless, WFH (working from home), PPE (personal protective equipment), Forehead thermometer, and Intensivist (physician who specializes in intensive care treatment).

Obviously, I am not going to include all of the 535 words added to the dictionary, but a few words did attract my attention.  Among them:  Deepfake:  an image or recording that has been convincingly altered and manipulated to misrepresent someone as doing or saying something that was not actually done or said; Slow-walk:  to delay or prevent the progress of (something) by acting in a deliberately slow manner; and Stovepipe:  to transmit information to a higher level in an organization through an isolated and narrow channel of communication.

I noticed the number of new words that were somehow related to trickery or intentionally misleading your listener.  The word "Truthiness" was introduced by Stephen Colbert on The Colbert Report  as satire, but it was quickly adopted as a way to describe how the very idea of "truth" is under attack.  The English language needed a word to describe the intentional manipulation of truth--a word for the kind of unprovable discourse that "doesn't measure up to the standards of evidence and research that are required for consensus and understanding."  In other words, intentionally misleading others has become so common that we need a word for the false truth being used.

On the May 2nd  CBS "Good Morning America" show a segment introduced a brother and sister who grew up with a father who taught them the joy of words, in one case having invented a word to describe the experience of getting squirted in the eye with juice while eating grapefruit.  His word is "orbisculate," incorporating the orb of the eye in his imaginary word.  They added his word to their vocabularies and discovered  that the word doesn't exist only when, as young adults, they could not find orbisculate in the dictionary.  To honor their father, and his gift of passing to them a love for words, they are trying to get the word into a dictionary.   

I had already written this blog, but since it had not yet been published, I decided to join their effort by using orbisculate in my blog.  Here it is.  Try not to orbisculate when eating grapefruit because the juice can sting.      

In conclusion, if you are eating breakfast as you read this blog, be careful not to orbisculate, and remember, we all need to be more mindful that "truthiness" is intended to deceive us, and truth is essential to everyone if reason and good judgment are to prevail.  Words matter!



1 comment:

The Blog Fodder said...

I do like mindful. Thank you.
Every year brings us situations or things that need describing. English allows for that rather well. It is much more difficult in some languages, I understand.
Dr Seuss and Shakespeare likely hold the record for new word though I am not sure how many of Dr Seuss's made it into the dictionary.