25/4–17 (synonyms)

2 min readMay 8, 2017


My brain is a thin, tightly-wadded handkerchief shot full of holes. I used to think the holes made up constellations, that everything looped back around. But now I know it is a lot more random.

There is a word in Norwegian for the foggy mind of a breastfeeding mother. Ammetåke.

I’m not a new mother, nor a mother at all, but can nevertheless relate.

Today’s Facebook feed is next to unbearable: flashy videos solely composed of fast cuts and unnervingly catchy subtitles. What did I do or what did I click on last night to conjure up this particular form of purgatory?

As I type, words dart in and out the hotel lobby that is center of my mind, like the sound of so many revolving glass doors. Not all the words are in English and not all linger. It’s a confusing bustle. Vilkår. Grunnleggende. Selvfølgelig.

I started collecting synonyms the day I tried to translate the word ostentatious.

Though richer than I originally assumed, Norwegian pales next to English when it comes to nuanced descriptive words. The way some words roll off the tongue, even when only pronounced in the mind, just cannot compare. Does that sound biased?

A carton of yogurt in the fridge proudly promises to deliver “the taste of my upbringing”. The taste is sweet, mild. The cheese here is also mild, as are the fish cakes, fish pudding, ham, white sauce. The list goes on. My partner scoffs at the yogurt’s claim; it apparently was not around when he was a child growing up in Skedsmokorset.

The Norwegian word for fluent is flytende. Both share the same Latin root fluere, which means “to flow”. But while the English word is extremely specific to one’s command of language, the Norwegian counterpart is also used to describe anything that flows and the state of being liquid. While Norwegian is sometimes painfully direct, English is a grandiloquent, overwrought, elaborate thing.

Scrolling through synonyms online fills me with a joy so pure, I can barely grasp it.

Maybe the joy has nothing to do with the inherent complexities of either language, but rather the fleeting feeling of control and order that follows when one is able to put a name to a face.




Eternally emerging artist, hunter gatherer ◌ www.jessicawilliams.info ◌ Norway