I once read a story about a Navy man who, due to a bad childhood, never learned what emotions were. To him, there was no "angry", "happy", or "sad" — it was just "intense" and "not intense". Although most of us can differentiate between our feelings, there are many other such events in our daily lives that we experience, but don't necessarily have the language to talk or think about. For example:
- Someone who doesn't know much about cooking might not know that their food is undersalted. To them, it would simply taste "bland". Or, for a more frequent example, someone who doesn't know about the taste of astringency might find that some cups of tea taste worse than others, but not be able to describe why. One more: how about beer? I only started drinking beer recently, and it used to all taste the same to me. Now I can differentiate between vastly different styles (IPA and hefeweizen, for example), but all IPAs still taste almost identical. Over time, I'm sure I'll be able to differentiate between even those.
- Someone who's never encountered a discussion of framerate might not know why some TV shows look like soap operas and others don't.
- Someone who never bothered to learn the rules of grammar might not be able to explain them, even though they'd still be able to use them in everyday speech. (Same with math.) I constantly surprise myself by becoming conscious of weird grammar rules in Russian, such as the fact that the words in a sentence can be rearranged without changing the meaning.
- Someone who doesn't know music theory might not be able to explain why they have an emotional response to part of a song. A musician, on the other hand, can talk about chord progressions, tonality, melodic lines, voice leading, and various other techniques used to increase and decrease the tension.
In each of these cases, once you know the trick, the explanation seems obvious in retrospect. How could you not know what "happy" feels like? How do you not recognize saltiness? But when you're in a position where you don't even know that you don't know something, it's easy to miss patterns among the noise. There's simply no conceptual foundation for you to grab onto.
Is there a word that means, roughly, "taking something that was once understood in only a nebulous, ill-defined way, and acquiring the core concepts and vocabulary required to understand and talk about it specifically"? Or, more simply put, "recognizing that something is 'a thing'"?