As language evolves, the meaning of words changes. These changes can be incredibly minor, only changing a sentence’s meaning in narrow and specific contexts, or they may be pretty drastic, especially over extended periods. Typically, they vary based on their use in social situations, often so gradually that speakers naturally adapt to new meanings without realizing it. However, individuals or groups sometimes create systems to keep track of names, terms, or other words, typically used in a particular field of arts or sciences. A new terminology, also known as a nomenclature, is born when this occurs.
Nomenclature; that means, matching understanding. The whole meaning of this definition is difficult to understand without an example.
In the science fiction film Arrival (2016), Amy Adams plays Dr. Louise Banks, an expert linguist the US Military recruits after a dozen alien ships landed on Earth. Her job is to decipher the alien’s language. Unfortunately, she is often at odds with the combative Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker), who challenges her gentle approach. In response, Dr. Banks shares a fictitious story about the origin of the word Kangaroo.
In the late 18th century, Captain James Cook’s ship ran aground off the southeastern coast of Australia. He led several sailors to explore the newly discovered land, where they encountered aboriginal people. A sailor pointed to one of the animals.
“What do you call these creatures?” The sailor asked.
“Kangaroo!” One of the natives replied.
Satisfied, Captain Cook and his sailors began talking about Kangaroos. However, after many frustrating attempts at further communication, they finally realized Kangaroo meant “I don’t understand!”
Like the European explorers of Australia in the movie, most of us go through life believing that others understand what we mean. That works most of the time, except for when it does not.
Here is another fictitious example. Suppose John tells Jane about his day while they walk together. Jane smiles and nods as she tries to be polite. John wrongly, but not unreasonably, understands that her smiles and nods ask for more details of his story. John did not realize that Jane kept walking beyond her destination to keep him company. She thought she was helping him by lending an ear. John felt upset to discover that she did not understand most of the details in his story. He felt even more upset to realize that he had wasted her time.
What could John have done differently? How can we ensure others understand us in these situations? Before 2017, there was no answer. The solution is neither a shared understanding of terms nor a common understanding.
- Shared; that means, being present in a specific group.
- Common; that means, present in most individuals.
The United States has over 100,000 biologists. They use a matching understanding of terms to present technical arguments. Their secret to success is the system of naming organisms: nomenclature. Neither shared understanding nor common understanding works for their field.
As of 2021, there are over 87,198 chemists in the United States. Neither shared understanding nor common understanding is good enough for them. Instead, they use a matching understanding of terms to present technical arguments at work. Their secret to success is the system of naming specific atoms: the periodic table nomenclature. Why should social life be any more confusing?
Outside of our professions, how could we also achieve the same level of matching understanding? The short answer is Thumoslang.
Here is a longer answer more relevant example to everyday life: The precise meaning of the word “respect” can vary based on context. Different individuals have subjective understandings of the word’s meaning. At times, respect can refer to admiration, such as in the phrase “I respect what you did.” In other cases, it may mean avoiding harming or interfering with a person or thing. “Please respect my boundaries.”
These two examples bring about the following alternative versions of the same concept’s definition:
- Respect; that means, deep admiration. Thumoslang’s creators did not adopt this version.
- Respect; that means, no interfering. This version is part of Thumoslang.
With this in mind, let us take a second look at the meaning of “nomenclature.” Nomenclature; that means, matching understanding. Using “respect” as an example, if two or more people agree that respect is “deep admiration,” those people have a matching understanding of the meaning of respect and thus share nomenclature.
Take note of the definitions’ syntax. The following explains why. The format is known as a “thumbnail definition.” Thumbnail definitions are themselves best explained using thumbnail definitions.
- Thumbnail; that means, brief but concise.
- Definition; that means, explanation of meaning.
Thumbnail definitions are an efficient way to record and keep track of the definitions of a nomenclature. Using thumbnail definitions to generate terms can be an efficient strategy when creating a formal vocabulary. “Thumoslang” is the first nomenclature developed this way.
However, a thumbnail definition in Thumoslang’s nomenclature does not describe the defined concept. Instead, it only explains when the concept is at play; in other words, in an active state. To further explain, let us use the thumbnail definition of “focusing” as an example.
- Focus; that means, saying no to all else.
If a speaker claims, “I focused today,” they may provide supporting evidence using the above thumbnail definition. The definition specifies that focus is at play when one says no to not just some but all of the things not targeted by the focus. In other words, if the speaker cannot identify and express several things to which they said no, they do not possess evidence to support their claim. On the other hand, if they specified, “I declined to speak with my friend on the phone that night and wrote my essay for school,” they have demonstrated focus by the above definition. Once again, in the terminology used in this example, focusing does not occur unless someone says no to all else.
This has been a demonstration of a linguistic tool known as Thumoslang. In brief, Thumoslang is the vocabulary for optimizing life, formally described as the nomenclature for social life.
The rest of this book is an alphabetical list of every registered thumbnail definition in the Thumoslang nomenclature database. With proper knowledge, readers may use this book to become far more influential in their social interactions and thought processes.
A new edition of this book will be released annually. Be sure to acquire the latest version for the best results.
To learn how to use this nomenclature, read the first official book of Thumoslang, Life in 184 Words, also known as Thumoslang on the Run.