Emily Articulated: New(s) and old words » Sandpoint Reader (2024)

Emily Erickson
Reader Columnist

Can you hear it? That’s the sweet sound of silence descending like springtime fog, blanketing the earth after the torrential downpour of primary election messaging. We’re nearing the few months when our mailboxes won’t be stuffed with those too-long postcards (does each candidate get an “I’m running for office” discount code at Staples?) that still don’t manage to say anything meaningful with their extra four inches of cardstock.

It’s that brief, yet impending window between robocalls and unsolicited texts, wherein we can reclaim joyful, mindless driving — not involuntarily tallying candidate yard signs or attempting to predict election outcomes (or is that just me?). We’re not there yet, as the election results still require debriefing, but soon, we’ll be in the sweet spot between selecting weekend beach locations and deciding which fall vegetables to plant and where.

In this vein, before I close the book on Civics (or whatever class this sh*t-show now resembles) and break for the summer, I want to reflect on politics, the news and the way we describe these subjects — currently, and in the past. Because lately, I’ve felt like modern words don’t do these topics, and the experience of them, justice. So here are some old English words, long out of use, that somehow describe politics and the people making headlines more perfectly than any modern-day language I’ve been able to muster.

The first term I’d like to revive is the 18th-century verb “fudgel,” or the act of giving the impression of doing something when, in fact, you really are doing nothing.

Like any English ace, I know that committing a word to memory requires using it in a sentence, like, “Were the Supreme Court justices listening or simply fudgelling when they heard the federal government’s case against Idaho’s near-total abortion ban?” or, “Will they consider or fudgel through the real-time impact of their decision on women (especially pregnant women or women hoping to safely start families), physicians and hospitals in the state and around the country?”

In this case, the jury is — quite literally — still out.

Then, there’s the term “snollygoster,” which first gained popularity in the mid-1800s, but experienced a resurgence of use in the 1940s and ’50s, when Harry S. Truman used it in a speech to taunt “Republican snollygosters.” Meaning “a clever, unscrupulous person,” but with synonyms like “fox” or “snake” falling a bit short, I’ll again turn to its use in a sentence to drive home its meaning:

“As incumbent candidate Scott Herndon engaged in yet another petty smear campaign of his opponent Jim Woodward, I can’t tell if he’s a snollygoster or simply a well-trained puppet for out-of-state money and interests.”

Another great word due for a revival is “jargogle,” meaning to confuse or jumble, especially as they relate to thoughts. Like, when Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker addressed the newly graduated women of Benedictine College with a commencement speech in which he explained, “Some of you may go on to lead successful careers in the world. But I would venture to guess that the majority of you are most excited about your marriage and the children you will bring into this world,” he was surely jargoggled in thinking that anyone — especially young women — wanted to hear his thoughts on their futures.

Next up on English words due for a comeback is “ultracrepidarian,” or a person who gives opinions on subjects they know nothing about.

I certainly don’t have to dig far to find a good use of this term (here’s me adding it to my list of “sick burns”), but I like, “Although amateur ultracrepidarians are ubiquitous on social media platforms, with people sharing their (in)expert takes on everything under the sun, a far more problematic population of ultracrepidarians are flooding positions of power — especially those who think women’s stomachs are connected to their vagin*s, or that injecting bleach will save you from infectious disease.”

The final term I’d like to revive is “uhtceare,” or the act of being awake and anxious before sunrise. This term is primed for use in our post-election come-down, like, “After a full month of sporadic news and election-related uhtceare, I’m excited to put this impending doom and myself to bed.”

And with a ring of the proverbial bell, class is dismissed (for me, anyway). I hope you all have a blissful, election-free summer.

Emily Erickson is a writer and business owner with an affinity for black coffee and playing in the mountains. Connect with her online at www.bigbluehat.studio.

Emily Articulated: New(s) and old words » Sandpoint Reader (2024)


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