Wordnesia: Oh, word? 英会話・英語 アミック
Have you ever stared at a word so long or seen it repeated so often that you start to doubt that it’s actually a word? This morning I had to convert a few files into one pdf and took to naming the files “content 1”, “content 2”, and so on. That’s when it hit me–content is a really strange word. Has it always looked so strange? Is it pronounced with the stress on the first syllable or the second? Does the stress on the syllable actually change the meaning of the word? Was I even spelling it correctly? What the heck was a content anyway? I became convinced that I was making up the word. I felt that it looked deeply wrong despite not getting the squiggly red line under the word. What the heck was going on?! Before I had an epic word meltdown, I took a trip to Google to make sure I wasn’t the only one affected by this phenomena.
According to Matthew J.X. Malady, an Slate columnist/super villain, this condition is called “wordnesia” and it happens to the best of us, even linguists and professors! According to Malady’s article,
“James contended that our conscious experiences are made up of components he referred to as the nucleus and the fringe. The nucleus consists of sensory information that we discern easily and have no trouble perceiving (the individual letters that make up words, for instance) while the fringe entails more nebulous experiences or responses that help inform fully developed thoughts. Fringe-type sensations involving familiarity, significance, and correctness would appear to be critical in connecting all the dots when reading and writing, but in some instances the signals can get crossed. Sometimes, as Epstein says, “the fringe provides a sense of ‘wrongness’ when it should be providing a sense of ‘rightness.’ ”
To put it simply, while we’re going about our reading and writing business, there seems to be a small hiccup in our brain that says “This word isn’t right!” To put it even more simply, no one knows definitely why this happens to us. The good news is that the symptoms don’t seem to last very long and I was back to converting files in no time! Has wordnesia ever affected you?