No word for self-aware

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"The beautiful white dialect", Les blanches exotiques 8/22/2012:

I love how beautiful and simple the exotic white dialect is. Because it has less words and lacks any logical grammar, it just sounds so peaceful, calming, and real. You can just feel the emotion when you listen to them speak. It varies from tribe to tribe, but throughout the white motherland is basically the same. I took a two-week service trip to build a McDonalds with authentic white food and lived with an authentic white family, so I know. It’s so sad that they’ve started using civilized words from modern languages, “cash” and “pajama.” It must be because there’s no concept of cash in white culture. Did you know they have twenty different words for “coffee” but no word for “self-aware?”

The Language Log "No Word for X" archive is here.


  1. Clark Richardson said,

    August 26, 2012 @ 4:53 pm

    Love it!

  2. digamba said,

    August 26, 2012 @ 5:05 pm

    "Less words?"

  3. Ran Ari-Gur said,

    August 26, 2012 @ 5:13 pm

    Because of the strongly communal nature of their culture, whites view aloneness as a completely distinct state of being. This is reflected in their language: words for people have a distinct form used for individuals. For example, when children are alone, they change from "children" to "child". The truncated, incomplete nature of this form shows that, in white society, aloneness is considered inferior to togetherness.

    What's more, because of whites' close spiritual connection to their physical world, this occurs even with words for many inanimate objects: "trees", when alone, become "tree"; "books" becomes "book"; and so on. Presumably books cannot tell that they are alone, but whites notice on their behalf.

  4. Jerry Friedman said,

    August 26, 2012 @ 6:06 pm

    Wait a second, when did it become OK to take this condescending attitude toward our language? Many songs in the Top 40 use several words from white language! And don't forget, there's value in diversity, too.

    Also, you shouldn't use "dialect", as if there were no whites in the army and the navy!

  5. GeorgeW said,

    August 26, 2012 @ 6:38 pm


  6. CherylT said,

    August 27, 2012 @ 1:30 am

    Like many whites, I contort parts of my face when amused, occasionally expelling air through my mouth and nose while doing so.

    There have been several studies of one particular tribe of white people. One of the earliest can be seen here:

  7. maidhc said,

    August 27, 2012 @ 3:43 am

    Instead of calling it their dialect, it should be called Ivoronics.

  8. [links] Link salad motors into Monday | said,

    August 27, 2012 @ 7:10 am

    […] No word for self-aware — It must be because there’s no concept of cash in white culture. Did you know they have twenty different words for “coffee” but no word for “self-aware?” Hahaha. […]

  9. Dan Parvaz said,

    August 27, 2012 @ 9:23 am

    I'm not sure it's mature enough to be called a white "dialect." A "tongue," maybe…

  10. languagehat said,

    August 27, 2012 @ 10:04 am

    "Less words?"

    This is Language Log; you want Grammar Peevery, down the hall, first door on your right.

  11. boris said,

    August 27, 2012 @ 11:28 am

    I don't get it. Are the words "cash" and "pajama" of non-white origin? Or are they the only words both whites and non-whites use?

  12. Ran Ari-Gur said,

    August 27, 2012 @ 2:15 pm

    @boris: Pajama is from Hindi. [source] The common word cash is actually from Italian via French, but there was a colonial British cash "Indian monetary system, Chinese coin, etc.", which came from Tamil and/or Sinhalese [source], so probably the author of this piece was under the mistaken impression that that was the source of the usual sense as well.

  13. Peter Taylor said,

    August 27, 2012 @ 2:21 pm

    @digamba, innit.

    @boris, pyjama / pajama comes from Hindi, although the original author seems to be using a mistaken etymology for cash.

  14. Ross said,

    August 27, 2012 @ 3:11 pm


    An allusion to the twenty words for snow trope.

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