The Ur And The Horn

Yesterday I came into work to find a horn lying on the ground. Some animal had its horn chopped off and it had found its way onto the third floor of our building. It was there because my coworker has a dog and this is one of the many treats we offer it to not annoy us all day (she’s actually a very cute dog).

I was overcome with a sense of something primal. Like this scene – a dog eating a bone in the midst of several people in a circle – had been played out for millennia. Except that instead of us being hunters sitting around a fire with our dog feasting on a recent kill, we are product managers sitting at door desks with a hypoallergenic puppy who is tithed with gifts to abate her ADHD.

I couldn’t help but think that English lacks a great word to capture that fleeting instinct I felt. I was reminded of the German prefix ur-. It translates roughly as “primeval”. But because it’s a prefix, Germans can combine if with words like Wald (forest) to get Urwald. Urwald refers to the primeval forest found when humans were nomadic or in small settlements. Much for fun to say Urwald than “primeval forest found when humans were nomadic or in small settlements.”

So I propose a new term: the Urinstance. This is when you find yourself doing something and get a flashback to what the same moment was in ancient times. Enjoys Internets.