Culture, Language

Do your friend’s get uncomfortable and embarrassed when you use the word blog” in a sentence? I have noticed that mine do, and so I sometimes try to avoid using the word blog.” For instance, instead of saying the following sentence:

Reading the blogs this morning, I read about a new word, igry,” which is quite useful.

I would say something along these lines:

I recently came across a new word, igry,” which is quite useful.

The word, igry,” is defined as follows:

Igry” basically means painfully embarrassed for or uncomfortable about someone else’s incredibly poor social behavior, or descriptive of such poor social behavior”. Like, say you’re at a restaurant, and one of the people at your table summons the waiter by snapping their fingers. Watching this makes you die a little inside. You feel igry. (Or you might think, What an igry thing to do.”) The noun form is igriness”.

I find it useful to think about the word in relation to Pierre Bourdieu’s theory of Symbolic Violence. Bourdieu uses the term to refer to the pain that we ourselves feel when we are unable to behave in a socially appropriate manner (for instance if we are unable to pronounce something the standard” way, or when we are made to realize that everyone else at the table thinks something we said was in bad taste). Igry, on the other hand, seems to refer to those people who feel symbolic violence simply by being associated with someone who behaves in such a way. It seems to especially refer to situations where we feel that someone should feel symbolic violence, but is too oblivious to do so.

Igry, in this sense, is often used for comic effect in movies — especially movies that depend on ethnic humor.” I put ethnic humor” in quotes, because it is really class humor, but American’s feel much more comfortable talking about ethnicity than class, and always seem to talk about one in terms of the other. The point being that the more ethnic types in a movie are always the one’s making everyone else feel igry. There seem to be entire TV shows (i.e. The Nanny) based on the igriness people feel for their less cultured relatives. Usually their less cultured relatives are causing problems for the main character who wishes to move ahead” in life. The less cultured relative is full of folk wisdom and much better at relating to other human beings, even if they are oblivious to how igry they make other people feel.

Mark Liberman’s example of eggcorns is an excellent example of the kind of thing Bourdieu was talking about.

UPDATE: Clarified things a little bit.