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Re: The language organ and the ety of <grok> (Re: Serif vs. sansserif)

From:John Cowan <cowan@...>
Date:Wednesday, October 27, 1999, 17:42
Paul Bennett wrote:

> Fabian also used the term <grok>, while we were in London, and I think I > understand it. What's the etymology of it?
It is a word (indeed, the sole recorded word) from a conlang: Martian, from Heinlein's classic science fiction novel _Stranger in a Strange Land_. Its core meaning is *drink*, but as used in the book (borrowed into English as a regular verb) it means *comprehend absolutely, as if by merger between subject and object*. The Jargon File (, the lexicon of hackerdom, says: 1. To understand, usually in a global sense. Connotes intimate and exhaustive knowledge. Contrast *zen*, which is similar supernal understanding experienced as a single brief flash. See also *glark*. 2. Used of programs, may connote merely sufficient understanding. "Almost all C compilers grok the void type these days." The emphatic form is `grok in fullness'. -- John Cowan Schlingt dreifach einen Kreis vom dies / Schliess eurer Aug vor heiliger Schau Den er genoss vom Honig-Tau / Und trank die Milch vom Paradies. -- Coleridge (tr. Politzer)