January 6th, 2010

530nm330Hz

Useful words

Recently, I've found myself reaching for Talmudic terms in conversations with friends and co-workers, because there's no good English equivalent.

nafka meenah -- the practical consequence that turns an otherwise academic distinction into a question whose answer matters. (This came up in the discussion of the wording of a rule in a game, where there was an edge case where the interpretation of the rule affected the strategy of play.)

kal va-khomer -- if you think it's important in the case we've been discussing, it's even more important in this other case that I'm about to bring up! (This came up in a discussion of turning off write access to a source code branch.)

And of course there's the classic machatunnim, who are your child's parents-in-law.

Conversely, I had to explain retconning in shul a few weeks ago when it came up in a discussion of the narrative of Judah and Tamar.

So now I'm curious: What jargon have you used in a general context because it's the most precise or concise way of explaining something?