It is an intriguing dynamic, the way we take language for granted. Unless you are in isolation, eyes closed, mind blank, words are influencing you. Even in this solitary state you are arguably still “using” words. Yet, the average English speaker knows just 20,000 of the 1,025,109 words in the language – a mere 2% of words.
Similar to the way many are intrigued by the vastness of our universe, and the minuteness of our earth, I am intrigued by words. Their very existence enthralls me. And I find myself wondering, how is it that we have grown so comfortable with something of which we know so little?
Recently, I was humbly reminded of the immensity of our language. Reading a fascinating article, I tripped on haptic. A window into the unknown! I hopped through to learn more.
Haptic: means “of or relating to the sense of touch, in part relating to the perception and manipulation of objects using the sense of touch and proprioception.”
Though it was unknown to me before, I soon realized that haptic was – and had always been – all around me.
For example, Haptic feedback is the most anticipated feature of Apple’s new iPhone, the 6S. As they use the phone, customers will detect vibrations and other subtle tactile sensations with their sense of touch. Apple is calling this 3D touch, and likens it to the feeling of pressing actual buttons (Chamaray, 2015).
Another example: researchers at Yale’s robotics lab are using haptic, too. They’ve created the Haptic Sandwich, a handheld cube intended to help the blind navigate (Muoio, 2015). The Sandwich gives information to its user via haptic feedback. The top of the cube moves forward or backwards to denote distance, while the bottom turns from left or right to signal direction. Haptic Sandwich in hand, blind individuals are successfully guided from point A to B.
In learning haptic, I had not only discovered a new word but had finally found the word to describe the sensation of leafing through a paperback (a pleasure I discussed in a past blog) as well as countless everyday experiences: popping bubble wrap, even now as I tap my keyboard keys, these experiences are all haptic.
Just like that, my eyes have been opened to new things. My knowledge of the world around me had expanded. All thanks to six little letters. Has this ever happened to you? Have you ever found a new word and followed it to new places? What did you find?