Competition – new word needed for English language

English needs a new word. A new word that I never really needed when living in the UK, but which is simply missing from daily language needed when living in this part of the world, with its mixtures of cultures, standards, rituals and practices.
This word, an adjective, should describe something that’s both completely unbelievable, but which is also completely believable, both at the same time.
For example, you read an article in the paper about Dubai’s development. Something astonishing, such as the fact that a new development will be larger than Hong Kong, yet completed in just five years. ‘Unbelievable!’, you cry. But it’s not really, but it is, but it isn’t – for Dubai it’s normal, yet crazy, yet normal, yet…. You shake your head both in disbelief, whilst shrugging your shoulders nonchalantly, as this sort of thing happens every day.
A project is going wrong and your partner company is jumping up and down, demanding immediate assistance. You ask a set of questions to help diagnose the issue, then wait ten days for an answer, then get a reply saying that the problem is extremely urgent. The response lacks the answers to the questions you asked ten days ago, in response to the urgent problem that you were trying to help solve. Unbelievable – yet also quite normal.
The word can come from any background. Given my lack of a Classical education, I don’t know if such a concept exists in Latin or Greek – that said, if it did, it would probably already be part of English vocabulary.
I’m sure a language somewhere has managed to encapsulate this ying and yang of unbelievable astonishing craziness vs the daily, thoroughly to be expected, norm.
Suggestions please!


2 Responses to “Competition – new word needed for English language”

  1. Magnus Says:

    SNAFU? 🙂 Not quite what you’re describing though. I agree it would be interesting to find a perfect word for this phenomenon.

  2. Language mangler Says:

    How about: Unbeebable.
    This non-word was unintentionally coined after Tiger Woods won his first major tournament (the 1997 Masters). A competitor of Japanese extraction reacted to Woods’ amazing performance by slowly and melodiously exclaiming:
    "OOOOohhhh, unbeebable."
    Unbeatable? Unbelievable? Both? Neither? Maybe it was the way he said it… amazed, wistful, puzzled, just trying to be polite. He didn’t know it was nonsense. I could have used an exclamation point, even though he just sort of tailed off there.
    I don’t recall the golfer’s name, but that clip played on sports radio (primarily Jim Rome) for months.
    Although the word is ambiguous, it also makes sense — I know just what he meant, to the point where it takes a moment to realize that it’s still not a word. You have to think it over.
    This is of a piece with your observations of the believable, yet unbelievable. You have to puzzle it through, before digesting the reality of (for example) instant megalopolis.
    I realize that the nonsense value of this word is probably higher in America, where "Beeb" isn’t a commonly-used idiom. Even so… try it out on a few people.

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