Column: 50 words for frustration

Tina Bridenstine
The Shawnee News-Star

I've been reading books about the Irish language lately, and something I've found fascinating is words in other languages that have no direct translation to English.

In “Motherfoclóir” by Darach Ó Séaghdha, for example, I read about words like mearaitheoir (someone who annoys you with constant interruptions), sliopach (when your fingers are so cold you can't grab things), amainiris (the day after the day after tomorrow), and breacaimsir (weather that is neither very bad nor very good).

In “Thirty-two Words for Field,” Manchán Magan talks about aduantas, or the slight feeling of fear and sadness you feel in an unfamiliar place.

Both authors also give examples of how Irish has dozens of words for terms such as field, rock, and seaweed, with each word containing its own specific nuance.

Some words are more useful than others. (I don't know, for instance, that I will ever have a need to use the word liam, a term for a grumpy singer with a monobrow.) Still, it made me long for more words like these in English.

And then, reading these books during a second COVID surge has made me think that, after the experience we've all had the past year or more, surely the English language should have adopted about 54 words for frustration.

To start with, I really think there should be a specific word for the type of frustration mixed with worry one feels when friends and family cavalierly go about ignoring COVID and eschewing all safety measures, then end up in the hospital with severe COVID symptoms – especially when they still don't think masks or vaccines are really necessary despite their experience.

Then maybe we could come up with a term for the helpless, angry frustration you feel when you see people buying into and spreading disinformation that encourages more poor choices and the furthering of a global pandemic.

This could be followed by the frustration of doing everything in your power to do the right thing, despite the inconvenience, only to realize all of the closures and quarantines and sacrifices are ultimately going to be undermined by those who cannot be bothered to so much as wear a mask. This one doesn't even have to be COVID specific. I've often seen this compared to school days, when the students who are following the rules are held back from recess because the entire class is being punished as the result of the actions of a few. The phrase “this is why we can't have nice things” is maybe the most concise way to sum that one up, but wouldn't a single word be much snappier?

Or maybe we could come up with a term for the frustration of watching things snowball as the people in power are no longer satisfied with simply ignoring a situation, but are now actively trying to prevent safety measures that could help alleviate an ongoing disaster.

Maybe it's just me, but after over a year of this, when more people in my social circle are sick with COVID than at any point during the height of the pandemic, I'm not sure you could come up with enough words to express just how tired and frustrated and angry I am.

For now, I suppose, I am at least left with the Irish words abhlóir, blaoiscéir, and bogán, which are all variations on the term “fool.”

Tina Bridenstine is a reporter for The Shawnee News-Star. She can be reached at tina.bridenstine@news-star.com or 405-214-3934. Follow her on Twitter @tbridenstine1