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Oct 22, 2017
Hugh Dellar

Word of the day: hardcore

Last weekend, I was lucky enough to run a two-day teacher development course in Rostov-on-Don, Russia. One evening, a few of us went out for dinner and while we were chatting, one of the organisers of the event started telling me about a recent trip she’d made up to Valaam, an archipelago – a large group of small islands – in Russia’s far north. Located at the northern end of Europe’s largest lake, Lake Ladoga, in the republic of Karelia, near the border with Finland, the fifty or so islands are geographically remote and hard to get to . . . and on one island, there’s a monastery that dates back hundreds of years. My friend started to describe life on the island and the character of the small group of monks who still live there. “They lead a tough, basic life up there,” she began. “There’s no electricity, so no Internet, no wi-fi. Basically no modern conveniences whatsoever. I’m not sure how best to describe the people who live there. They’re very . . . .” “Hardcore!” I interrupted.

If you describe someone or something as hardcore, it means you think they have an intense – maybe even an excessive – interest in or passion for some particular activity, pastime or hobby. It shows you have a healthy degree of respect for the person you’re describing, but also that you are acknowledging their difference to the normal mass of humanity. This is someone who has no fear of the consequences of their actions, and who makes no compromises with anyone.

For instance, a friend may be telling that their brother is training for a marathon. he runs fifteen miles a day. He’s up at 5am and out whatever the weather. He sometimes runs until his feet start bleeding and comes home and pours the blood out of his running shoes! “He sounds seriously hardcore!” you respond, while at the same time wondering what kind of deep-rooted psychological issues would drive someone to do such things!

A brief look through various news sites reveals the fact that we often talk about hardcore fans – those people so obsessed with their favourite sports team, band or celebrity that they never miss a game or concert or appearance, and are bottomless pits of useless facts and figures about them; you can go on a hardcore training regime if you need to get fit quick, or go on a hardcore diet if you need to lose weight fast! We hear about hardcore offenders – people who commit the same crime over and over again, no matter how often or how severely they’re punished, usually because they have drug problems – and hardcore groups . . . of ISIS fighters, battling to the death in the city of Raqqa; of rough sleepers, determined to sleep outside no matter what kind of help is made available to them; and of football thugs, hell-bent on causing trouble at games they attend!

And if you follow Lexical Lab, you’ll probably have noticed how many of these word / chunk of the day posts we manage to produce for you, no matter how busy we are with whatever else is happening in our lives.

Pretty hardcore, eh!

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  • Do you know any hardcore fans? Of what? What do they do?
  • Do you know anyone who’s pretty hardcore in their beliefs, hobbies, or habits?
  • Do you know anyone who’s a bottomless pit of useless facts and figures?
  • What’s the most geographically remote place you’ve ever been to?
  • Why do you think some people are attracted to the kind of life the monks lead on Valaam?

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