August 21, 2004

Scattered brains

A friend of mine wrote me an e-mail today in which she related a story about how absent-minded she's been lately, and signed the message "your scattered brain [friend]". After shuddering a little at the image, I Googled.

All together, the three variants of the adjective I'm familiar with -- "scatterbrain", "scatter brain" and "scatter-brain" -- result in 40,300 ghits. The equivalent variants of my friend's apparent neologism -- "scattered brain", "scatteredbrain" and "scattered brain" -- all together result in only 731 ghits.

Update: Rich Alderson writes:
The usage with which I'm familiar is "scatter-brained", which Google offers up preferentially without the hyphen, even though there are half again as many occurrences with same:
scatter-brained 32,500 scatterbrained 23,200
So I find the "scattered brain" form fairly odd if not intentionally shifting the above forms.
In my late-afternoon, scatter-brained stupor, I had thought that Googling for "scatter-brain", etc. would result in hits for both "scatter-brain" and "scatter-brained". I was, of course, wrong.

Interestingly, a quick search for the variants of "scattered-brained" results in a whopping 503 ghits -- including things like:
(link) This is my complete downfall! I am the most unorganized scattered brained person when it cmes to my business!
(link) Sunday: Scattered-brained thunderstorms.
(link) It's an amazing tool/gift that God's given to us - writing - salvation for the scattered-brained.
(link) Yes, I succesfully paperchased us through the red tape of two governments and had managed to get us this far; however, I was too scattered brained to properly care for our passports!!
Go figure.

Some of these come from medical/academic or legal sources and have "scattered brain" in completely normal-sounding contexts like:

(link) Scattered Brain Infarct Pattern on Diffusion-Weighted Magnetic Resonance Imaging in Patients with Acute Ischemic Stroke. [Title of an article in the journal Cerebrovascular Diseases.]
(link) MRI images depicted brain activity clustered in the prefrontal cortex after mental training of the elbow flexor muscles, compared to a more random, scattered brain activity exhibited in the brain prior to mental training (Figure 1).
(link) Closed head injuries often times causes scattered brain injuries or damage to other areas of the brain.

Many others are examples that probably wouldn't have piqued my interest as much as my friend's e-mail, but are still interesting:

(link) Random thoughts from a scattered brain.
(link) Random notes from a scattered brain.
(link) They are not organized in any way - I just add them as they come to my scattered brain.
(link) I have a very scattered brain.
(link) Just some thoughts from the scattered brain that is mine.

A handful of others are examples very much like my friend's:

(link) Had the police not been scattered-brain and thinking that they were invincible maybe things would've had a different ending.
(link) But I'm a scattered brain and have just started (3 days) taking 30mg Adderall to help me focus.

I even found it in a couple of interesting poems:

From Wednesday's Child (link)

Scattered brain
You've been crying in the rain
You've been drowning in your pain
And gonna die
Do the right thing
Ain't no loose
Don't confuse
Wednesday's child

From O Miss Already (link)

I'm just two feet from the highway.
A scattered brain shuffling a deck of cards.
But if you wanted me to, I'd give up my gambling
just to pull the weeds from your backyard.
I aint got a dollar, aint even got a dime,
but a millionaire I am in time.
O Miss Already, I want you
to spend yours with mine.

[ Comments? ]

Posted by Eric Bakovic at August 21, 2004 09:26 PM