At the start of 2020, I pivoted this blog to share definitions of new words and terms I learned from the extensive learning I was doing for enjoyment. I was learning everything Khan Academy had on art history as background for learning to paint. I was also learning all sorts of things via podcasts ranging from technology to relationships, economics to psychology, and more. Extensive vocabulary came with this extensive learning because they were mostly topics I either didn’t know a lot about, or didn’t know nearly enough for the level of content to which I was listening.
So as planned, I blogged about new words learned at the start of 2020, thinking I would have about three per day, on average. As unplanned, things quickly got out of control as I was hitting about ten words per day in January, and peaking at over 15 words per day on the year by March! It didn’t take me anywhere near until March for me to drop that vocabulary and definitions blogging idea for 2020, though, as posts could no longer keep up with volume just weeks into the year. The year, then, was a bit of a write-off for blogging by poor planning. Coincidentally, though, it turned out to be just one more write-off for myself, like many things were for other people, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
What wasn’t a write-off for me was that vocabulary learning. Almost 4200 words in (4154-4197) as of tonight, December 23rd, I am still averaging 11.7 terms per day this year, with peaks and valleys to the rate that is peaking to finish strong at 31 words per day so far in December! With my planned transition to creative writing for my blogging in 2021, announced last night, I thought it’d be appropriate to write about some interesting words and terms I learned today… all 45 of them! That’s all 45 that I learned, not that I will write about to keep you from being bored.
By chance, all the terms I learned today came from one source, a Tim Ferris podcast with
Dr. Martine Rothblatt, the “polymath of polymaths”. From that description, you can guess why there was so much to learn. It was an absolutely enjoyable, touching, and at times mind-blowing, interview almost two hours long that I would highly recommend! From the 45 terms I learned from that podcast, I thought the following stand out as either being really cool as words or terms, but also possibly being useful:
- Xenoplantation – the transplantation of animal organs into humans. That’s just a cool word! I knew of the concept prior to the podcast, but not the word for it. Many terms I learned this year were of that nature, with an “a-ha” moment to exclaim “There’s a term for that!”.
- Transhumanism – a philosophical movement that advocates for the transformation of the human condition by developing and making widely available sophisticated technologies able to greatly modify or enhance human intellect and physiology. Another cool word to describe cyborgs and such advances at a higher level, as a philosophy rather than specific things.
- Shepardizing – colloquial legal term for tracking down all citations in an article, and citations after that, and so on, until the person doing so feels it is no longer worth the effort to find what they are looking for. I don’t think this has any cool factor, but as a laborious concept to follow through on all citations of layers, it’s impressive. I have done something similar for many terms I learned this year where I had to learn other words used in their definitions, and other words used in those definitions, that once amounted to about 80 words not in the source, just to be able to define one in the source fully! For the record, I look up definitions, but rarely do I take them as they are for a variety of reasons, of which the two most common are to give more information on the term, and/or because the provided definition was unsatisfactory on its own.
- Ethnobotany – the study of a region’s plants and their practical uses through the traditional knowledge of a local culture and people. This word I liked for its holistic approach to studying botany, because life and science is so much more than just a bunch of independent things!
- Antihelix – the bulging part in the shape of the outer ear running almost parallel to the helix (probably best to just search for picture online to know what an antihelix is). This might well be my favourite term learned today! It just sounds cool and puzzling, considering many people know what a helix is, some only via the “double helix” term from common references associated with DNA. In those regards, which described my knowledge of the word “helix” before today, what the hell would an antihelix be? I also got an anatomy lesson on ear parts to describe a few related words, like “helix” with respect to the ear.
- Simulacrum – a representation or imitation of a person or thing, that’s reasonably good but not quite an exact duplicate like a clone (plural simulacra). This word not only sounded cool to me, I can see it being very useful given all the robotic and other types of “clones” around that are more accurately “simulacra” than “clones”.
- And finally, Love night – a practice by Dr. Martine Rothblatt’s family where at a weekly dinner with music and fun, everyone would eventually take a turn to answer “what love meant” to them during the past week. What a wonderful thing to do!
Upon blogging out my reflections on words learned for today, I will take antihelix as my favourite of the day. However, simulacrum will be the one I will get the most enjoyment out of using because of how much more often I will get to use it than antihelix. Will you be able to take those terms and use them anywhere?
By the way, if you liked this exercise, wait till you see what I’ll plan to do in early 2021! At that time, I’ll be going through the terms by broad categories I had classified them for subject matter, picking out the top handful like here, and a winner like an award. Wait until you see all those really cool, awesome, and interesting terms!