What does it mean to be the ‘basic’ girl and why it is important to know more about it

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As I was meeting a friend, I was wondering where we should go, some nice coffee shop would be nice in the autumn windy day. Upon her arrival I still wasn’t sure, so I asked her for a suggestion.
‘Oh, everywhere except Starbucks!’ she said.
‘Why not?’
‘Well, I guess I don’t like basic stuff’ she laughed, ‘no, I am joking, I don’t like how much sugar they put in every drink!’
And here we go, we headed to some independent coffee shop where they put a reasonable amount of sugar in your latte, coffee or whatever you like. But one thought was started to nudge all the way long, what does it mean to be ‘basic’, or to be ‘basic girl’, what is the meaning behind it and why we use it so often in labeling certain people, what role does it play in our cultural understanding.
First of all, let’s look at the definition first, according to the dictionary the word ‘basic’ used as a slang word or adjective can acquire the following meaning:
Slang
1. (especially of a female) characterized by predictable or unoriginal style, interests, or behavior:
those basic girls who follow trends.
2. (of things) boringly predictable or unoriginal:
His lyrics are just so basic.
So, let’s assume that the closest definition is to put it simply “unoriginal “, a person who follows trends, music trends, fashion trends, tv shows that everybody watch etc. That’s not so bad, isn’t it, just a slang synonym of some dullness. But, let’s look a closer look at the definition, shall we? It says that it is used “especially for a female” , that’s something else. To name a particular character trait, if that can be even identified as something like that, and to categorize it as a part of particular gender type is more than sexism. I confess that I am not a feminist, mainly because the idea of feminism is so exploited nowadays that we no longer have a proper definition of it but a variety of different interpretations, but this is not morally acceptable. What they claim with that particular definition is that men are supposed to be identified as being ‘basic’ not so frequently as women. Forgive me if I get wrong here, but I was under the impression that the word ‘basic’ should have neutral meaning in regards to gender preferences, apparently I got the whole definition all wrong.
Moving on, let’s consider some examples of our contemporary culture in order to arrive at somewhat reasonable conclusion of what exactly means to be ‘basic’. I just decided to ask Google about it and I came across an article titled “50 Signs You Are A “Basic” Girl”, I am not going to quote all of them but the most interesting ones.

5) Singing drunken karaoke.
So, everyone who has never ever sang a song while he/she was drunk, please put your hands in the air! Nobody, I thought so!

8) Binge watching an entire series in a weekend.

Oh, yes, you who watched the entire season of Stranger things last weekend, I see you!

16) You love Netflix.
You and another 5 million people (at least!) so, don’t flatter yourself too much!
19) You workout.
Okay, so you say that everyone who workouts on regular basis or at least three days per week is basic, I will note that down!

42) It’s the iPhone or no phone.
I am going to whisper to every girl/woman on the street with iPhone ‘Basic!’, maybe they will get the gist or not.

As you can see the word ‘basic’ can be used in many situations for every usual activity you do, or any preferences you may have and you share them with many other people, imagine all the people who drink ‘Pumpkin spice latte’ throw a party, they should put a banner on it titled ‘Party- only the basics!”.
But before judging too harshly, let’s have a look at the theoretical spectrum of it, in other words, let’s consider the complex relationship between language and culture for a while.
Edward Sapir claims that the relationship between language and culture is intertwined and the study of the one cannot exclude the other, from which derive the idea of three assumptions concerning the relationship between both. One of the theories states that language very much determinates how we perceive the world.
However, the opposite can be true as well as the culture we share determinates the meaning of the language expressions we use. For instance, people speaking Hanunóo, a language from the Philippines, have four different words for black, white, green and red colours which used in different context can mean lightness, dryness, wetness, and darkness (Lucy,1996).
Therefore, it may be plausible to assume that our perceptions are very much dependent on our cultural understanding of the words/expressions we use.
In our case, the use of the expression such as ‘basic girl’ can be connected with specific cultural understanding. If we make a search on Google, among the results we can see a clear identification of cultural preferences of usages of this expression such as ‘basic white girl’. As a result, we see that ‘basic white girl’ identification refers to specific ethnical background , making the specification even more precise even in a geographical sense.
Hudson (1996) states that when we encounter a new usage of words/expression, we make logical connections identifying the type of situations we use it, the object it refers to. In our case, we have a whole web of association relating to the specific identification of the ‘basic girl’, haven’t we? Most importantly, we use the power of specific branding such as Apple and Starbucks as a reference in one way or another which deems the relationship even more complex and expanding.
In short, we not only use that expression, but we adhere cultural and brand associations to it. We use ethical, cultural, gender, and brand image references in order to create a particular type of label with the intent of using it mainly in a negative context.
Basically, this is what we do, from a linguistic and cultural point of view.

 

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Lagom – more than just enough

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Lagom -the little book of simplicity, if I was to title it, it would be that. But I am not an expert in Swedish language so you are free to laugh off this interpretation.

The thing is that a proper translation of this word in English, German or Bulgarian (my native language) are rather elusive to me, it’s almost impossible to pin it down to one or two specifications and to say that’s it, even though each language may have its own word with rather literal meaning like “enough” or “sufficient” in English, but lagom is much more than that. As much as you read further, the book expands its topic and you understand the complexity of it.

However, you can make your own interpretations and put it into different contexts. Take for example the fact that you can say “Yesterday I had just lagom a good time with Janet”, it means that I had a wonderful time with Janet, we had deep conversations and I didn’t feel bored or tiresome by her company, it was just perfectly good. Meanwhile, you can say “This cake is just lagom sweet, it is delicious” but I can object and say that it’s far too sweet for my taste aka not lagom. And this is the tricky part as Lagom can be identified as a personal preference towards something or as Lola (the author of the book) simply states “My satisfaction may vary from yours but we are both satisfied”.

The flexibility of this word expands even further as it can be incorporated in every context possible from talking about personal preferences to more general topics such as business, money, and lifestyle.

What I’ve learned so far from this wonderful book is that lagom is deeply ingratiated into Swedish culture and its practicalities.

First of all, lagom does not mean perfection, it’s far from being that but rather it means the right amount of something in accordance to someone’s needs. You know what happens when you have too much of a good thing, we become spoiled, and we don’t want that, do we?

This point leads us to the second specification of it, namely simplicity in every aspect of our life from beauty trends to food and fashion. And here lagom teaches as that less is more and can be more than enough. We learn how not only Swedish society but the Scandinavian countries, in general, rely heavily on quality rather than on quantity. You might already understand that they would choose to be minimalists, not because it’s trendy but because it reduces the burden of buying things they do not truly need.

And the third thing that lagom says is that we need to be reasonable, in a sense to be precautious as we do not know what the future holds for us, everything can happen and it’s a good thing to be prepared, especially when it comes down to financial stability and investment. Or as Dickens says ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”.

If you, by any chance, pick up this book, you will learn so much more and you will truly entertain yourself with the wonderful photos in there, you will peak into the Swedish culture and learn one or two Swedish proverbs, one of my favourites is “To write well and speak well is mere vanity if one does not live well” .

Now I am going to have a portion of just lagom cheesecake and enjoy the sun this afternoon as it is exceptionally sunny today in Britain. 🙂

Let’s be happy as the Danish people!

The little book of Lykke*

 

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Lykke is the Danish word for happiness as Meik Wiking explains in this wonderful little book. He is the founder of the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, which main aim is to identify the factors which contribute to the level of happiness in different countries around the world (You could imagine all the statistics and all the analysis there, my head spins as I try to do it!).

But how can you measure happiness? How you can even think of such a thing in first place? Does the level of happiness can be controlled and how can we maintain it?

Well, if you expect something like the perfect formula or some secret hidden for centuries from the humankind (because life is brutish and short), you may be disappointed because you will certainly not find something like that there.

Instead, you will catch a glimpse of the Danish culture, from the time of the Vikings (you will come across to a lot of Vikings’ references in there) to their modern day habits. You will explore the warm nature and the importance of being close to those you love and to your neighbours as you read about their daily habits. Mind you, the Danish people score high in the level of happiness across Europe, but do not confuse that with perfectly balanced society and perfect levels of equality in terms of economic prosperity, they just have a way of looking more often at the bright side and every cloud for them has a silver lining.

Nevertheless, along the way, you will learn that 95.5% of the Danish people can rely on their friends anytime, which is 5.5% higher than people in the USA, for example.

But there is so much more in this little book, which is written in very clear and precise manner (not to mention how funny it is) and which can give you a glimpse into the Danish culture and how they see the world and what it is the most important things for them (apart from burning things and candles and stuff).

In short, the Danish people believe in kindness, trust, freedom, and sense of togetherness, and how these things can make us happy and all other people around us,too. It is like a giant puzzle we need to assemble in order to see the bigger picture because that’s what truly matters right, the bigger picture?

I fell in love with this book, page after page and I sincerely hope that you would like it as well, it is like a glimpse of hope, like a blanket when you are cold and like a hot chocolate on a rainy day, it makes you smile and it makes you warm.

Going to a concert makes you happier!

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Yes, obviously, you may say! But what about going alone to a concert? Have you done it before and if not would you dare to do it?

It’s actually great, even for a person like me who would prefer to go with a friend or someone else. (I would like to spare the social humiliation and awkwardness to do it!) Nah, that’s definitely not for me (not in this life, mate!). I would not imagine it in thousand years that I WOULD do it, to be honest, that is so much away from my comfort zone that the mere thought of it made me cringe.

Going to a music concert on my own would definitely make me miserable and lonely and it would put me in another existential crisis! EXCEPT it would not!

It was fantastic experience, to go there on your own, to listen to the beath of your favourite band’s songs and to dance as if nobody is watching (which is actually true, because everyone is captivated by the music and no one would pay attention to you) and the best part is that at certain moment you can feel the wave of feeling, of the togetherness which happens at the exact time when everyone sings the song which the band is performing and it could not be more perfect than that.

That wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for a friend of mine who brought me a ticket for the festival Beyond the Tracks where Editors performed on the last day! It was like an early birthday present and it was truly magical!

I have only three tips for you if you are still undecided whether to go alone to listen to one of your favourite bands!  (No, you do not need survival tips!).

First of all, get familiar with where the venue is and make sure that you have a clear access to at least two types of transport, that’s important because you would be eager to go and see your band and be on the first line, wouldn’t you? You can arrive one hour and half before the bands starts, just go there before everyone else and wait for them to open the doors!

Secondly, don’t wear too big bag, they may take it away no matter what you are saying (even if your life depends on this bag, they would probably take it, those bastards!), take a small bag, your portable camera and a bottle of water (in case you get thirsty, and you would).

Last, but not least, and indeed most important of all, be there, just take a plunge and be present, don’t pay attention to anything else, but to the feeling of excitement, the sensation of joy which makes your heart beats faster and pumps adrenaline in your whole body. Be there, dream it, and enjoy it!

Listen to the music, sing and forget about the world and all its problems for a while!

10 Wonderful Words in Swedish

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Hello there, language lovers!

This is a post about Swedish language and its wonderful words, I’ve picked up on Swedish two months ago, I am still a beginner, but mind you I found some wonderful words on my way. So, here we go, ten fantastic words in Swedish which may make you fall in love with the language.

  1. LAGOM – it practically means “the right amount of something”, not too much, not too little, it’s just perfect. You can say something like ‘Yesterday I had lagom of the best chicken salad, it was so delicious!”.
  2. ORKA- means to have enough energy to do something, not to be in the Lord of the ring movie. You can say to someone ‘Hey, do you orka going for a run tomorrow?”, and it sounds much like “Do you fancy doing something…” but not exactly. 
  3. HARKLA – to make a cough before making a speech. A lot of people do that in order to clear their throats before saying something important or when they feel nervous. But mind you, don’t harkla too much, it may get annoying.
  4. HINNA – means to have time to do something. In our everyday activities and busy lifestyles, we rarely hinna for doing something out of ordinary or not included in our schedule, but you know what people say ‘The variety is the spice of life”. 
  5. FIKA – it means to go for a coffee, to have a drink with someone and to spend a quality time together. You even might say ‘Hinna du fika?’ – “Do you have a time for drinking coffee?”.
  6.  BLUNDA – to turn a blind eye on something or to literally close your eyes. I blunda every time when I watch a scary scene in a horror movie! (Well, I can say that you miss the fun!).
  7. MYSA – the closest equivalent of this word is to snuggle, but in Swedish it means that you can do it on your own, you can make yourself cozy on your own. I love to mysa with a blanket and a good book in my hands.
  8. VASKA – it means to go to the bar and buy two bottles of whiskey/vodka/ rum or whatever you want and to throw one of them in the sink in order to show how much money you have and to impress someone around you (strange way of making a good impression, but anyways). 
  9. BADKRUKA – when you do not want to go swimming in a lake/a sea/ ocean, or if you are a cat and you do not like water in general! ‘The girl badkruka, she is afraid of the water!”
  10. LINSLUS- when you want to be always in the photo, or your face to be there at least, you just love being photographed, if we can say that. ‘She always linslus when someone takes a picture nearby!’

Dissertation -time

Okay, here we are. I’ve not posted a single line on this page for ages, and I hate myself now as I promise to myself to do it no matter what, but… no! I guess if Jesus had procrastinated so much, he wouldn’t have managed to create the world for seven days! SEVEN DAYS! Oh, just imagine the rush! (Crazy, huh!?!)

HOWEVER, I have an excuse this time as I am guilty of writing my dissertation and looking for part time job, and eating, and sleeping. Not all of it in the same time. So, this post I would like to dedicate to my dissertation or more specifically 10 thoughts you have while your MASTER’S thesis.

  1. Choose a topic you like! – What I like? Yes, that’s easy, I like good books, cream caramel, potatoes, sci-fi movies. Hmm, how that can relate to my subject? I guess I can write about the spectrum of moral identity in relation to not wanting to share my potatoes and cream caramel with real people, but only with fictional characters. Mind- blowing, huh?
  2. Okay, you should not copy other people’s works! Fine, but when my professor requested a full account of Marxism, my first thought was to give him a copy of the Communist Manifesto!
  3. Need to write the introduction, need to be SMART. I am going to write every single word that comes to my mind in alphabetical order.
  4. Oh, I don’t know that for sure, I am going to the library, but let’s GOOGLE it first. Google knows everything, it has its own phone already, I bet it can save your fingerprint so in case it’s stolen it does not allow the thief to work on it. See, smart! (I should definitely call someone from Google and propose it, I will be rich!)
  5. So… I wonder how many references I should put into a paragraph to sound smart enough, 10,100,1000?
  6.  My computer is frozen! What should I do?!?! (Caressing gently the screen, saying quietly “It’s okay, we can take a break, we deserve it!” )
  7. Crying in the corner, eating biscuits and wondering why there is no device which can transform your thought into writing.
  8. Spending mornings, lunch time, and dinners at the library. Library – a noun – synonym of the word “home”.
  9. Reading what you have written 12 hours before and asking yourself whether this is too smart for you to understand it or it does not make any sense at all!
  10. Starting to convince yourself that you can do it while reading through the endless list of literature you need to check! (Breathes heavily!)

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Life’s lesson (which nobody bothers himself to tell you about)#1

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You are having a great time or at least you thought you ‘d had the last time you saw your so-called new friend at a party. It was loud, it was massive, a lot of people you don’t know lurking around, spreading gossip, exchanging pleasantries, you know the usual things, it was a blast. But wait a minute, actually, you were invited to a place where you wouldn’t know anyone else except your two friends and before starting to roll the flashbacks to that night, you realized that you’d been left on your own devises, on your own all night. You remember very vividly now that every time when you tried to have more than 2-minutes conversation with one of them, well it didn’t work out because all you had received was a curt answer or just a nod and that was the exact frigging moment when you realised that you’ve been nothing else but merely tolerated.

 
No, do not look at this and do not accuse me of something like a self-loathing hatred or something. That is not the case here. Because it’s me, it’s you and maybe everyone else you know have been in that situation. It is the time to realize that sometimes, somehow people do not get along , we get so easily annoyed by so many things and not everyone is a precious snowflake. This is the time to feel good about yourself because you are going to turn a new page of your life experience , the tine when you realize that you need to buckle up and leave alone the “friends” who do not like you or who just simply tolerate you. Not out of spite , not out of hatred, but because you need to self-preserve yourself and save your kindness for someone who would really appreciate it. You do not need to chase people or snowflakes when it is not snowing.
You are having a great time or at least you thought you ‘d had the last time you saw your so-called new friends at a party. It was loud, it was massive, a lot of people you don’t know lurking around, spreading gossip, exchanging pleasantries, you know the usual things, it was a blast. But wait a minute, actually, you were invited to a place where you wouldn’t know anyone else except your two friends and before starting to roll the flashbacks to that night, you realized that you’d been left to your own devices, on your own all night. You remember very vividly now that every time when you tried to have more than 2-minutes conversation with one of them, well it didn’t work out because all you had received was a curt answer or just a nod and that was the exact frigging moment when you realised that you’ve been nothing else but merely tolerated. No, do not look at this and do not accuse me of something like a self-loathing hatred or something. That is not the case here. Because it’s me, it’s you and maybe everyone else you know has been in that situation. It is the time to realize that sometimes, somehow people do not get along, we get so easily annoyed by so many things and not everyone is a precious snowflake. This is the time to feel good about yourself because you are going to turn a new page of your life experience , the time when you realize that you need to buckle up and leave alone the “friends” who do not like you or who just simply tolerate you. Not out of spite , not out of hatred, but because you need to self-preserve yourself and save your kindness for someone who would really appreciate it. You do not need to chase people or snowflakes when it is not snowing.
You can keep up showing up in the same place where they hang out, you can contact them every week in vain hope of going out with them and you can wait up for their response as if your life depends on it because you find them so interesting and they fascinate you , but they will probably just laugh it off. Or you can stand up straight, look yourself in the mirror and ask yourself “Do I need this?” , and end it up at one, rip off the bandage and move on, not wasting your time, energy and attention on someone who does not care. Because the ones who care, the ones who truly hold you dear will respond to your messages, to your calls, and even if they are too busy they will eventually show up, because they know the meaning of the time and they know how to give and receive attention. So, ignore the things they can say about you, that you are too indignant and too proud, you preserve yourself and you learn to follow only those who want to follow you,too.