Linguist I

19 03 2008

I’ve recently developed a fascination with words, types of words and origins of words. Just in my surfing, I picked up a few new things.

Déjà vu – (from Merriam-Webster) 1 a : the illusion of remembering scenes and events when experienced for the first time

The literal French is “already seen“. According to Wikipedia, what’s more commonly experienced is Déjà vécu, the sensation of having already lived. According to a poorly cited source, as much as 70% of the global population has experienced Déjà vécu.

Jamais vu (“never seen”) is the condition of not recognizing a situation, place or person as familiar despite the knowledge that such a thing has been experienced before. A Times report cited by Wikipedia explains one example:

Chris Moulin, of Leeds University, asked 92 volunteers to write out “door” 30 times in 60 seconds. At the International Conference on Memory in Sydney last week he reported that 68 per cent of his guinea pigs showed symptoms of jamais vu, such as beginning to doubt that “door” was a real word. Dr Moulin believes that a similar brain fatigue underlies a phenomenon observed in some schizophrenia patients: that a familiar person has been replaced by an impostor. Dr Moulin suggests they could be suffering from chronic jamais vu.

Presque vu is the sensation of having something on the tip of your tongue. Try impressing your friends with that phrase… just don’t forget what it is.

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