Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

Lucubration – Wacky Word Wednesday

After a two week siesta of preparing for and celebrating CSOFT’s annual localization extravaganza, Wacky Word Wednesday, a weekly celebration of the wackiest and most interesting words from around the world, is back as we hoot our way into the night.

From TermWiki.com, the definition of today’s wacky word:

lu·cu·bra·tion

[loo-kyoo-brey-shuhn]

-noun

laborious work, study, or thought that happens, especially at night; to work or write in a detailed, scholarly manner

A cartoon depiction of lucubration: laborious work, study, or thought that happens especially at night.

The etymology of lucubration stems from the Latin lucubrationem, which means “nocturnal study, night work.” Lucubration is also related to lucubrare, which means “to work by artificial light”; this is derived from lucere, “to shine”. Lucubration also has a second meaning, referring to any solemn literary work that is the product of laborious and scholarly concentration, which can take place at any time of the day (or night).

A lucubrator, therefore, is someone who enjoys working or is most productive late at night; in modern-speak, someone who is a night owl.

According to research, each individual functions on a circadian rhythm, a daily cycle of activity. Unlike other mammals, humans are able to override and reset our biological clocks, but most often not without difficulty. From our research we came across several articles addressing the difficulties night owls have when trying to change their sleeping habits. For all you night owls looking for tips to ease out of your current lifestyle, here are some of the key messages we found:

  • According to Steve Pavlina, the body doesn’t require the same amount of sleep each day. Therefore, you should go to bed when you feel tired (within reason – i.e.  it’s not okay to fall asleep at your desk at work!) and wake up at a fixed time every day of the week.
  • To become an early riser, the first thing you need to do is get out of bed. Leo Babauta puts it well when he says, “Do not rationalize. If you allow your brain to talk you out of getting up early, you’ll never do it. Don’t make getting back in bed an option.”
  • Once you’re dressed, head out for some bright morning light, which is helpful in waking up the brain.

Among medical experts, having habits of lucubration can be seen as a disorder. More specifically, delayed sleep phase disorder or DSPS is identified as a circadian rhythm sleep disorder in which abnormal sleep-wake patterns are a persistent condition. In other words, this disorder “results when [an individual’s] internal biological clock does not match his or her external environment”.

Though today’s society functions largely around the mantra of the early bird catches the worm, there have been some famous lucubrators that might give night owls reluctant to change some hope, including Marcel Proust, James Joyce, and Winston Churchill.

For any lucubrators who have successful become earlier risers, feel free to share your thoughts below! If you’re interested in learning more wacky words, make sure to subscribe to our RSS feed for automatic updates from T for Translation!

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2 Responses

June 29, 2011

I guess there are lucubrative industries also – I have a friend who makes car ads. He never gets into the office until 10:30, and doesn’t do much before lunchtime. But then he’ll stay late into the night, because that is when his team is the most productive and creative. He recently stayed in the office until 9am to meet a deadline. Crazy!


July 1, 2011
autumn

@Rob: Ahh…long long ago, during my heyday, I think that could have been me. I used to dream about having a job that would allow me to unleash my inner owl :) In the words of writer Hilary Rubinstein, “Blessed are the owls, for they shall inherit the mystery and magic of the night.”

I guess I am luckier than some, though, as I adjust pretty quickly to “normal” hours!