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Nullo's avatar

Have you noticed that words start to look/sound strange if you look at them/repeat them long enough?

Asked by Nullo (21944points) March 19th, 2010

Most recently for me was the word “week.” Divorce it for a moment from its association with a seven-day period of time. Innit weird?

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46 Answers

starshine's avatar

yes! I do it ALL the time! I had that happen recently: atrocious.
lovely word, isn’t it? and it doesnt make sense!

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

This happens to me most when I am fatigued. Has anyone else noticed that?

holden's avatar

Answering somebody else’s question a couple days ago I typed the word “hurt.” I had to pause for a moment and contemplate it, it looks and sounds so strange. But I hadn’t thought of it before.

ragingloli's avatar

We must say we are impressed by your talent to discover the obvious 20 years after everyone else..

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

The medium is not the message. We often forget that. “Divorcing it”, as you say, is not often so easy. But meditation (or fatigue) may allow us to attain that awareness easier.

I’ve actually accomplished this a few years ago and live by it daily.

The words I see on this screen are not your thoughts. They only represent your thoughts. You could have written it in Chinese or sent a set of smoke signals. The medium does not matter. It’s your thoughts that we are sharing.

My thoughts are not reducible to the simple pixels, photons, and letters that appear before you currently. My thoughts are a separate entity, but they can only be known by you if I draw a picture of them. That’s what language is… We draw pictures of our thoughts with language.

Telepathy exists. Truly it does. We just have to use symbols to make it function. Beyond that, we are truly sharing the thoughts of our minds.

Vunessuh's avatar

I think roof is a strange word.

thriftymaid's avatar

Yes. Sometimes you type it and it just looks wrong. The last time the word was oxygen.

Violet's avatar

YES! Like the word alphabet.

Nullo's avatar

Why does your (Fluther’s?) talent appreciation lag 20 years?

laureth's avatar

Absolutely. “Guitar” was a recent one for me.

Kayak8's avatar

Totally love the question, didn’t know anyone else did this! Recent words that come to mind are “telephone” and “gentian.”

janbb's avatar

Yes, and it plays total hell with my ability to spell.

ucme's avatar

I touched on this in a thread a while back.Tomorrow.That is one weird word if you look at it long enough.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

desireality and begintuition alway sent me into a trance.

CMaz's avatar


ubersiren's avatar

@ragingloli Maybe the asker is younger than 20. :)

Trillian's avatar

Yes! Yes! Yes! When I was a kid I thought that it was just one more reason not to tell people things about myself. I thought I was the only one! Thank you for asking this question.

Cruiser's avatar

Yes and the more you do it the worse if gets and can even cause permanent damage especially if you look it up if you don’t know the full meaning. Take Nullo for example….if saying 20 times is not bad enough, when I looked it up….sorry, things will never be the same!
“Nullo Internal Deodorant® Works from the inside out to control body odors of all types”

Just_Justine's avatar

yes! specially if I say my name over and over it sounds freaky odd.

Nullo's avatar

Francesco Nullo preceded the internal deodorant by a century or so. :\

Cruiser's avatar

@Nullo Thanks for the info…still weird for me! ;)

CharlieGirl's avatar

Yes,I do.Say ‘fellow’ out loud repeadedly and listen how funny it sounds! :)

Chongalicious's avatar

I always think about how in the world people even came up with these weird sounds to mean things o.O And then came up with random characters to represent the sounds…wtf?!

Trillian's avatar

@Chongalicious But really, that’s all that words are to begin with. They are symbols that represent the thing, not the thing itself. Yet they convey meaning. A word means what a group of people agree that it means. So, we all agree on WTF means, and Presto! A new grouping of letters to form a symbol that conveys a meaning. I love words!

Chongalicious's avatar

@Trillian I know, the concept makes sense because we need it…and yet no sense at all because it’s pretty much random? I don’t know how to explain >.<

laureth's avatar

It’s not totally random. The symbols used to mean an individual thing, before they became shorthand.

Chongalicious's avatar

@laureth True, but those symbols were randomly made up when they were first created to represent the original object/thought/etc..

Trillian's avatar

@Chongalicious Huh? What is random? Each letter which. as @laureth points out, is also a symbol with an agreed upon sound and meaning. Varying combinations of those symbols form other symbols, based upon the agreed upon rules governing those symbols. The rules for the English language, I grant you, are more complex than those of other languages, but the very fluidity of our language is what allows us to have so many words, thus allowing for finer and finer shades of nuance. More and more abstract thought is possible because of this. At least, it’s a theory of mine. I believe that the thought process is incomplete without articulation. Articulation enables and facilitates thought and articulated thought allows and enables us to more completely conceptualize the abstract. I love words!

laureth's avatar

@Chongalicious – if a little circle used to mean the Sun, for example, is random, you can call just about anything random.

Chongalicious's avatar

@Trillian and @laureth It was all random at the beginning. Just think about it! Did someone pull these symbols out of somehwere besides their imaginations?? Yes, now we have purposes for them and they flow well together. But at first, people had to just make it up as they went along and eventually work towards a uniform way of putting things together. They went through trial and error with the symbols and the sounds they represented until they came up with a smotth system that worked.

laureth's avatar

Okay. This little symbol used to mean “cattle.” It looks like a cattle head, no? To me, this is not so random – it looks as if someone really thought about a non-random symbol to represent “cattle.”

That little cattle head symbol was streamlined at some point and became this symbol, which still looks a lot like a stylized cattle head. Yes, the way it changed was random, I guess, but it was still attached to the meaning of “ox”. It was called an Aleph, because the word for “ox” was ”ʾalp” – still not too random.

And that sound, and that letter symbol, became the Greek Alpha, and later our letter “A”. You probably know all this, to be sure, but while the journey went a little randomly, I find it hard to believe that drawing a cattle head to represent your ʾalp that you have grazing out back is at all random. Neither was this symbol for “eye.” Are they pulled straight out of imaginations, or are they based on what the thing represented really looks like?

Chongalicious's avatar

@laureth All that is conceivable, but where did the word “alp” come from in the first place? Is there some real connection between the shape of an ox’s head and that word? I’m not trying to be sarcastic here, I really don’t know the answer. I say it’s random because I really don’t see a definite connection between words and the meanings and objects they originally represented… I’m not saying all language was pulled out of someone’s ass or anything to that effect; I’m just not seeing the dots being connected here..

Trillian's avatar

@laureth I’ve had several classes and have read extensively about word origins, various alphabets like Ogham, Runic Script, and others. I’m looking forward to learning Sanskrit at some point in the near future. I get the feeling that your own education has exceeded what is taught on the average as well.
I guess trying to teach a passion to someone who isn’t interested in learning is a futility. I don’t know what I expected. I guess it’s not a bad thing to keep questioning stuff, but I find it exhausting, so I’ll leave it to you if you’re so inclined. Ciao! I’ve been enjoying your posts, by the way.

OpryLeigh's avatar

I’ve done that with my own name before!

monocle's avatar

The word hook looks strange to me.

Blimp and shish-kabob sound strange to me… and Alabama. :p

ragingloli's avatar

more like “Al-Abama”, lol. Only that it is christian

monocle's avatar

@ragingloli No comprendo. :D

ragingloli's avatar

Al-Abama / Al-Qaida

monocle's avatar

@ragingloli We are officially on the same page now. lulz?

mattbrowne's avatar

Ja, das ist mir auch schon passiert wenn ich zum Beispiel das Wort




Yes!! I’ve always thought about that too, and I’m glad you finally asked the question! I will look at a word for awhile, then it will start to look “odd” to me, as if it were misspelled or foreign. And usually they’re simple, easy words. An example is the word “shoes”. If you stare at it long enough, it begins to look like s hoes. “There seems to be a letter or two missing,” I think. But after a little while it starts to look normal again. I think when we read sentences, we take for granted how common words are spelled, so when we read them quickly, we don’t take the time to analyze their spelling, because we are too well-aware of how they’re spelled. But when we take one of these easy words out of a sentence and analyze them, stare at them, they look weird because they “just look too darn simple to be spelled right.”

Val123's avatar

It is funny! A familiar word suddenly becomes total nonsense! I mean, you know what the word means, but the spelling is nonsense! Kind of a fascinating quirk of the brain. One word that always gets me is “uniformed.” It’s always used in conjunction with “office,” and I always see “uninformed officer.” Every time.

AshlynM's avatar

Yep, all the time. Lighter, soar, weakened, oxymoron, and weekend.

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