I never really knew whether that whole thing about eskimos was apocryphal (don't spoil it all by telling me now) but it did point something important out to me early on: different spheres of life need their own language. In many ways, in my old life as a techie in the theatre, it was something I understood intrinsically (loads of thingamabobs need lots of words to describe them). But its only leaving that world has made me understand quite how sweary techies are. When there are a 10000 different types of arcane cock-up waiting for you at work every day, there are necessarily 10000 different words and phrases to describe them. But here's the rub. One word has crossed over into my new life as a carer. Shit.
It only comes up because of that age-old social interaction, thus -
Them: How are you?
Seems like a deceptively simple question, but before you answer it you need to grade the person who's asked. Are they:
a) being polite and don't *really* want to know = response 'fine thanks'
b) know you a bit better, but don't have time/inclination to hear = response 'shit'
c) know you well and are genuinely asking = response 'this may take some time'
And it led me to thinking, in category b) above that one word just isn't useful enough to describe all the things that go on in our life now.
What is the word for: I'm too tired to move any more but I've got to? The S word covers that, but not specifically.
What about: Basically fine, but my whole head is occupied fretting about the many possible diagnostic futures, all of which will be - you guessed it - shit.
And here's a new one, and what brought me to this post in the first place: what do you call the feeling that goes with being in the position of 'decider' for someone who can't make an informed decision themselves, about something that's elective, will be painful and involve a general anasthetic but the person you're deciding for is completely fine about it because they trust you intrinsically?
Guilt doesn't nearly cover it. Pathos, not really. I bet the Germans have got a word for it.
Tell you what though. Shit doesn't come close.