Iggly Wigglies


My mind is blurry today. Sometimes I think the mucus from a cold gets in between the neural spaces and inhibits transmission. Yeah – I paid more attention in Neurophys than that. Still, that’s how it feels.

I’m trying to embrace the mistiness of it. I do believe the teaching that conscious thought is only the tip of the iceberg of our thinking processes. I like to have precise, clear thoughts, but I’m letting go of the idea that it’s so very important.

Still – mist is, by nature, a nebulous thing.

I love the look and feel of it, but when I try to capture it, it never seems quite right. Like the fog rolling off the Jimez mountains in the pic above. So spectacular in reality. Kind of meh in this photo.

I notice when my mind is less focused, that I tend to substitute words in odd ways. Usually it’s a sound-based substitution. For example, I once typed “actually” instead of “accidentally.” This is clearly not a spelling error or me not knowing the difference between the words. Somehow the cadence of the words are matched in my brain. My right brain, with all her lovely impulsive mistiness grabbed for a close-enough word and it took a moment for the left-brain monitor to catch up and correct the error. I did catch it, before I finished the sentence, but the bizarre substitution amused me. Sometimes I even type “know” instead of “no,” which is just more work to make the mistake.

One of my writer friends does this, especially when she’s struggling with a migraine. She wrote a blog post that mentioned “an arbiter of things to come.” I gently suggested she meant “harbinger.” She was chagrined, but I could see it’s exactly the same kind of substitution I make – based on sound and cadence. She knows the meaning of both words perfectly well, but they’re twinsies enough to switch with each other.

In my family, we call this an Iggly Wiggly. This is taken from the internally famous incident when my grandmother told me she’d been to the movies. I asked what she’d seen and she said “Iggly Wigglies.” Without a pause, I asked how she liked Legal Eagles. (For the record, she thought it was silly, which is probably a fair assessment.) Some of this is knowing my grandmother. A large chunk, though, is affinity for words and language sounds. I understood perfectly well what my grandmother meant, what my blogging friend meant, even what I meant.

It reminds me of that game where they take the vowels out of all the words in a sentence, to see if you can still understand it. Which we all can. As much as we cling to precision in writing, with proper spelling and punctuation, the actual communication usually makes its way through.

Or the accidental communication. I forget which.

8 Replies to “Iggly Wigglies”

  1. I get the iggly wigglies when I'm tired. Like you, I'll type "know" for "no," and even "read" for "red." For some reason, I always go for the longer word.

    I think of it as my fingers being in "voice recognition software" mode — they type what they "hear" phonetically, without much regard for homophones. The bad thing is, the spell checker won't catch these boo-boos.

  2. Isn't that weird about the longer word thing, Linda? You'd think we'd take the easy way!

    KAK – your igglies are more consonant transpositions than, as Linda puts it, voice-recognition software issues. We need another name for your brand of goofiness.

  3. i do this all the time too! sometimes it's because i'm tired or sometimes it's because i use one word more often and so my fingers revert to typing that word first. i'll often write "g" if a word ends with "in" like cabin or caitlin because my fingers are so used to putting those 3 letters together.

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