05 Jan

Parapraxis (or a long dash into parentheses)

Parapraxis is a word invented to translate the German, “fehlleistung,” the famous Freudian Slip (or, literally, the failed or mistaken performance or achievement). Describes most of my life. Possibly the right name for this blog.

Now I’m wondering if there’s also a term for compulsive use of parentheticals in speech and writing. I’ve given thought to an entry titled The Cave of My Parentheses, wherein lurks asides, nudges, afterthoughts inserted midstream, brief internal conversations with myself at the expense of the reader, and textual (not text-based)-emotes.  And occasionally, midstream clarifications added to avoid editing the stream of thought. It’s also used as a cheap way to insert a clause without using commas, and sibling to the long or em-dash (biggest of the three Dash sisters, Em, En, and Hyphen).

The more I write, the more conscious I become of writing habits used to satisfy only myself. Not self-conscious, just trying to be aware as I write or correspond to weed them out or apply them with more discipline.

Revealing a little self-analysis, I think I do this because 1) my father loved to talk and wasn’t interested in listening, so I became good at getting my voice out fast, whether my thoughts were well formed or not, just to be heard; and 2) the persistent notion that people who respond quickly are the most intelligent in the room, a notion held and often reinforced by smart people who respond quickly; and 3) it usually takes me a long time to form complete original thoughts and I’m often too impatient or worried to let them form. I also have a habit of thinking and speaking the same way I write, which usually involves several rounds of edits, the initial goal just being to get it on the page.

Which leads us back to parentheticals.

Is there a word that means “fear of parapraxis?”

One thought on “Parapraxis (or a long dash into parentheses)

  1. Parapraxis is a word invented to translate the German, “fehlleistung,”

    I am reminded of one US diplomat’s complaint, back in the 80’s, about use of the word “detent”. He wanted to know why we had to come up with some new foreign term when there was a perfectly good American word we could use already: “rapprochement”

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