I have a love of words that stems from a love of reading and a love of conversation. I love learning new words and discovering new meanings. Clever conversation makes me swoon. My favourite TV shows become favourites because of the banter between characters. I read cookbooks by Nigella Lawson as much for her prose as for the recipes.
People who know how to use words are my heroes and I envy them enormously.
Language is a thing of great beauty and power. But with power, there comes an ability to destroy and misuse and oh, oh, oh, how words are misused!
I don’t like abbreviated words. ‘Awks’ is not a word. And ‘totes’ as a noun refers to a bag and as a verb to carrying something around. It is not a substitute for ‘totally’. (Also, it’s possible I am an 82-year-old woman called Beryl who is about to call 3AW and complain about ‘the youth of today’.)
But most of all, I despise made up words.
So it’s a little odd that one of my favourite Tumblrs is all about made up words.
The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows invents words that fill a gap in language. Creator of the Tumblr is John Koenig and he is incredibly clever in the way he comes up with these new words. He has a Facebook page to explain the etymology for each word (often made up from existing words jumbled together) and YouTube clips, exquisitely telling the story of the word.
Some of the made up words are strangely beautiful, although I wonder if that is because what they intend to describe is beautiful. Unsurprisingly, vellichor is my favourite.
Sometimes, there are no words to describe a feeling or an experience. This is often the case when trying to explain diabetes – especially to people who do not live with it.
Here are some things I wish there were words for:
That feeling when you know you are low but refuse to acknowledge it. Your brain is foggy, yet at the same time your mind is defiantly in denial.
The frustration you feel when you are desperately trying to play by the book, yet still not getting the diabetes results you would like to see – that you expect.
The love you feel for diabetes technology which is often coupled with an absolute hate of it.
That feeling of meeting someone with diabetes who you just click with and know that you will be friends forever – not because of diabetes, but just because, although kind of because of diabetes! (Ping: These girls. And this one.)
And adding to that – being in a room full of other people with diabetes and hearing the beeping and vibrating and alarming and clicking of a hundred meters/pumps/lancets/pens/CGMs and being absolutely oblivious to it all because it just feels so ‘normal’.
The anticipation of digging a spoon into a new jar of Nutella.
The superciliousness you feel – and the exaltation you feel you deserve – when you change your lancet more than a couple of times of year.
The rare, unusual and yet liberating feeling of being completely, truly, utterly, entirely, wholly naked – no cannula; no sensor; no tape on your body.
The appreciation, gratitude and indebtedness you feel towards your loved ones who are forced to deal with diabetes that one step removed, and love you no less for it.
The realisation that a diabetes blog post you are reading is so perfectly true, so accurately precise and tells your story so honestly that you feel that you wrote it yourself.
Being high and all that comes with it.
I wish there were words for these things. I wish that there was a way that I could express what diabetes is about – how diabetes feels – in a way that is more than just multiple words on paper and a (frequently ridiculous) stream of consciousness that is often nothing more than an unintelligible mess!
I’m not sure that I would ever use Koenig’s words in a sentence – spoken or written – and he is certainly not the first person to make up words. Shakespeare made up words in his writing. Edward Lear did too – really, just what is a runcible spoon? But nonetheless, it is somewhat magical to see – and hear how – random letters come together to create words that seem to somehow, suddenly, make complete sense and give a name to things that we absolutely feel.