Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Losing my nouns....

It's been a disturbing day.

Lunch with friends: two I've known for years, one I've known for just a couple of years. Conversation took a turn toward our "Bucket Lists". Haven't seen the movie, but I do have a bit of a list (if only I can remember what's on it!)

As the conversation progressed I began losing nouns, particularly proper nouns. Now that makes a person a particularly annoying lunch companion:

me: "You know where I've always wanted to go?'

Deb: "Where?"

me: "Just give me a minute and I'll think of the name."

Deb: "What about you, Laura, what's your dream trip?"

Laura: "Today it would be someplace sunny and warm: Fiji, Bali. Anything to get out of these gray Michigan days."

Me: "It's that place where they set off for base camp when they climb Everest. Give me a minute the name will come to me." (every one looks at me out of the corner of their eye....but are gracious enough to not roll their eyes.)

Kim: "I like to visit cities and take in the museums and culture. It's always a treat to visit our son in Manhattan."

Me: "Nepal! That's it! I've always thought it would be neat to go to Nepal and be there when all the climbing expeditions were getting ready to head out for the spring climbing season."

All eyes turn to me in blank stares, nod their heads, then politely return to their soup.

Soup, I didn't order soup. Maybe that was the problem!!

All I know is that in the space of a one hour lunch date with friends I lost:
  • the name of at least 2 travel locations.
  • the title of 2 books;
  • and the last name of Deb, whom I've known since she was pregnant with her 17 year old daughter.
At least I smart enough to keep quiet on the last one...it was just a thought that flitted through my head for a moment before it came to me. Of course her maiden name was right there on the tip of my tongue...go figure.

Losing proper nouns is a problem. There are no substitutes. If I want to go to Pittsburgh and I can't think of the name, I may well be shipped off to Petersburg, which wouldn't be such a bad thing in the first week of February. Nevertheless it is not the intended destination.

Loss of common nouns, not such a problem. We have words for those lost common nouns: whatchamacallit, thingamajig, doohickey, doodad, thingamabob, gismo..... The conversation can continue and may even be a bit entertaining with the noun euphemisms. But lose your proper nouns and no one knows who or what the h*ll you're talking about.

So let me tell you about the early readers' selection that I snagged from Library Thing (you can get there from my sidebar). It's title is: _The Translator: A Tribesman's Memoir of Darfur_. The author is Daoud Hari. It's a narrative account of attacks of Sudanese militia groups on the tribal people of Darfur. The book arrived today.

Now, looky there....just look at all those proper nouns in the above paragraph. I didn't lose a one.

I'm really looking forward to reading this book.

If only I can remember where I put it.


  1. Circumlocution is a term speech therapists call a technique used with stroke victims. It helps them find a substitute word for the one that eludes them - you go around the word. I use it all the time when that word won't come to me. I identify words that I associate with it and ultimately get where I'm going. Ian's very patient when I start word fishing, but I think he thinks of it as a game. You should have seen me fish for Brian Dennehey - you know, he was in Silverado with Kevin Costner....

  2. I SO understand this post.

    And it is so interesting to understand just where (what area) those proper nouns live in our brains...and how we retrieve them (or not)...

  3. Oh, Valerie, I feel your pain! It happening to me more often and I realize it's usually when I'm overtired. In memory studies it's called TTP - Tip of the Tongue Phenomenon.

  4. I too seem to loose the most simple of words... after years of using them!

    Annapurna is the name of the place by the way...in Nepal. How do I know this? My brother has climbed to the base camp of Mt. Everest and is going back there this Sept 2008. He says that he *must* do it.
    A tip from him: you must be incredibly fit and can handle hikes to 16,000 feet

    Mere details!

  5. I call this CRS Syndrome. CRS standing for Can't Remember S***. I suffer from it regularly! Enjoyed your blog!

  6. My brain has been on the blink lately too. Sigh. I hope that the sun and warm weather will restore some of its function.


tie in the loose ends...