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MLA Full: "Non-VIrgin...a Lexical Gap?" YouTube, uploaded by vlogbrothers, 22 September 2010,
MLA Inline: (vlogbrothers, 2010)
APA Full: vlogbrothers. (2010, September 22). Non-VIrgin...a Lexical Gap? [Video]. YouTube.
APA Inline: (vlogbrothers, 2010)
Chicago Full: vlogbrothers, "Non-VIrgin...a Lexical Gap?", September 22, 2010, YouTube, 03:40,
In which Hank talks about his weird experience discovering what a lexical gap is, tells 33 year old John to lay off the critical reading koolaid and tells 15 year old John to dump his girlfriend.


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A Bunny
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Good Morning John. I am going to read my letter to fifteen year old you, and yes, I did just hold up my bank statement acting like it was a letter, it's not, it's a bank statement. Actually, it's an "important update regarding my overdraft coverage."

But before I read to you my important update regarding my overdraft coverage, I wanted to tell you a quick story. Okay, last week I thought that I had a super clever thought. I was reading Vlogbrothers comments and someone made a reference to Nerds dying virgins, which is not an uncommon statement among the troll population, and I just wanted to respond and say that actually I would argue that most nerds die- [wild gesturing]

And I didn't know what word to use there. At first I thought "deflowered," most nerds die deflowered, and while I think that may be technically true depending on your perspective it's kind of a - the word has a negative connotation. Like Synonyms for "deflowered" include like "corrupt" and "sully" and "dirtify," probably just dirty. Dirty is a verb, as well as an adjective. And so I was thinking to myself there is really no word for the opposite of virgin. And then I thought to myself "there should be a word for that! There should be a word for when there isn't a word for something!"

And I love self referential stuff like that so I thought it was super clever so I tweeted a question to the world. "What's the word for when there should be a word for something but there isn't?"

And I did not think that I was asking a serious question, I just thought that I was making a funny statement, but then, because nerdfighters are nerdfighters and nerdfighters know this stuff two very quick tweets came in from "Rlunny" and "HeatherKlus" informing me that there is in fact a phrase for that, not quite a word, but it's called a "lexical gap".

And there are lots of lexical gaps in lots of different languages. For example, in Romanian, there's no word for shallow. So when you're translating into Romanian you have to call it "not so deep." English also has interesting lexical gaps like the fact that we have no plural for the word "you," which is a big one, and it results in us having to invent words like "y'all" and "yous guys."

And so I very excitedly @replied both of those people, though slightly disappointed that It was not a full word. Then Victoria tweeted saying a lexical gap , or a "lacuna," and I was like "a lacuna?" And so I looked up lacuna and lacuna means a lot of things but if you're a linguist, a lacuna is when there is no word for something that there should be a word for. So YES! There should be a word for when there should be a word for something, and there is a word for when there should be a word for something, and that word is "lacuna."

But if you're not talking to a linguist, and you want to be more specific, you should probably use the phrase "lexical gap." That is the end of my story, and now I'm going to read to you my letter to fifteen year old John.


So John. You're fifteen. And like a lot of fifteen year olds, you feel like when you're forced in school to do math and science and laboratory experiments you're sort of being tortured. But here's what science does for us fifteen year old John: It helps us understand what to think about and it gives us a framework for how to think about those things. Funny thing is, fifteen year old John, when you're thirty three, you're going to write a video letter to fifteen year old me, saying those exact same things, about critical reading.

And guess what! You'll be right. Because, fifteen and thirty three year old John, there are lots of ways to arrive at a place where you can choose what to think about and you know how to think about those things well. For you, it was reading complicated books critically, for me its statistics and population dynamics and evolutionary theory, But the truth of the matter is, to live a good life as a good person, it doesn't matter how you got there. It just matters that you do. Also, dump your girlfriend. I don't know who your girlfriend is. I don't know how much you like her, but dump her right now, because John, in the future, you are going to feel much, much better about yourself if there is one girlfriend in your past that you managed to dump before she dumped you.

Good luck with that fifteen year old John! Thirty Three year old John: I will see you on Friday.