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Passions in Poetry

Tongue Tied (How far can language be twisted?)

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rwood
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25 posted 01-31-2009 07:18 AM       View Profile for rwood   Email rwood   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for rwood

I stumbled upon this and thought you might find it interesting.

quote:
In the selection,  speaking about "words," Woolf says:

    ... purity or their impurity discussed. If you start a  Society for Pure English they will show their resentment by starting another for impure English. Hence the unnatural violence of much modern speech, Virginia Woolf


That particular section from a B.B.C. series entitled "Words Fail Me," is also the only known recording of her voice.

Found here: Woolf Speaking

Being a daughter of a knight would certainly have an affect on one's grasp of "pure."
Essorant
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26 posted 01-31-2009 08:59 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Some words manhandled by Religion have the greatest deviations, such as

Angel

From Greek aggelos [gg pronounced "ng"] "messenger"


Devil

From Greek dia-bolos (dia "through" + bolos "throwing") "through-throwing one = slanderer".


Neither of these words originally implied the kind of supernatural nonsense by which we define them in our English language today.
Stephanos
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27 posted 02-02-2009 05:47 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Essorant,

It is altogether different (though some would deny it) to say something is "nonsense", than to say "it doesn't make sense ... and here's why".  The connotations behind these words, make the difference between insult, and intellectual critique.  One fits a philosophy forum, the other doesn't.    

However, at least in Christian Theology (there are other streams of belief which use these words as well), both "Devil" and "Angel" are part of the created order ... ie, nature.

And their names have been derived from human experience of what such created beings have been known to do.

Whether you agree with any of that or not, it certainly understandable to me how the names were acquired.  One who almost always bore messages might naturally assume that name.  One who always accused or slandered might easily bear the other.  It's not like taking the word "wet" and using it to describe dry things, since most dry things contain some moisture ... or taking the word "light" to describe darkness, since there is seldom a total absence of light.      


Stephen    
Stephanos
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28 posted 02-03-2009 09:26 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Ess:
quote:
Neither of these words originally implied the kind of supernatural nonsense by which we define them in our English language today.


I forgot to point out, in my response, that the Greek word "Angelos" was used in pre-Christian times to describe oracles / soothsayers giving messages from the gods.  Looks like you're not exactly correct in attributing the religious aspect of the word, to a later English innovation.  It seems, since people have been religious from time immemorial, quite understandable that a word for "messenger" might have both sacred and 'regular' applications.  

And since the etymology of the Greek word is unknown, you're likely to have a hard time finding a time when the word wasn't used in this way.  

Stephen
Essorant
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29 posted 02-03-2009 10:10 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Stephanos,

Just a short note to defend my point.I never said it excluded any such kind of messenger.  My point was that the meaning of the word was just that "messenger, envoy, etc" in general, not defined by such things as we usually imply today, such as being a celestial or supernatural being, from heaven, having wings, etc.   For example, using the original meaning, an aggelos "messenger" of earth or even from hell or the underworld, would be just as much an aggelos.

[This message has been edited by Essorant (02-03-2009 11:05 PM).]

Essorant
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30 posted 02-04-2009 12:32 AM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Another word overthrown by religion is certainly demon from Greek daimon "(a) divinity, guardian spirit and the like"  Eventually, Christianity used it in a very contrary way and filled it with negative connotations, so that now it is wellnigh impossible to say the word without an accompanying sense of evil.
Bob K
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31 posted 02-04-2009 01:36 AM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K


     Pan daemonium!

     See Pan and The Underworld by James Hillman for a seat of the pants thrill ride through religion, language and Analytical Psychology seen through the eyes of a real master.  He bends concepts like pretzels into new sculptural forms.  He loves the world of dreams.  He defies gravity.  His viewpoint dips into and out of the polytheistic, and certainly into the world of classical antiquity.  He thrills on word origins.  He chills with his logic.

     Five Stars out of Three on the intellectual curiosity List!  
Stephanos
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32 posted 02-05-2009 07:51 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Well Ess, I suppose we need words for distinctions, and opposites, as well as more general words like "deities".  You fault religion for the evolution of the words "angel" and "demon" ... leaning too good on one side, and too evil on the other?  But these words are still quite congruent with their original meanings, though adding specification / valuation.  Again, this is not quite like calling black white is it?


And here's another question to explore:  What makes some innovations endure, and others fizzle?  

Stephen
Essorant
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33 posted 02-06-2009 12:55 AM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

quote:
Again, this is not quite like calling black white is it?


I agree.  But I guess if I happen to use a word in a different way, but unlike those above, in a way that by no means is ever likely what so ever to change the definition nor threaten it, nor intends to, it gets to be attacked as "murdering, mangling, gutting, etc" the word?

quote:
What makes some innovations endure, and others fizzle?


I think both wisdom and unwisdom.  On one hand someone may use something in a very wise way and it may catch on and continue, but on the other someone may use something very unwisely and mistakenly and it may catch on and continue as well.  

Bob K
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34 posted 02-06-2009 02:43 AM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K



Dear Essorant,

          You specifically?  How would I know?  I don't think my funny word buzzer or anybody else's is much affected by the fact that you're doing the verbal shuffling or if somebody else is.  I have trouble with some sorts of split infinitives that others use with ease; they simply ring badly to my ear.  Such things I think may be disagreed about without too much trouble.

     It's when the actual meaning of the words themselves gets shuffled around too abruptly that discord comes in.  We are then talking about the content and meaning of the words themselves, and suggesting that folks don't actually mean what they say when they say something, but may mean instead something almost entirely different.

     This is something that is essentially an attack on the social construction of the reality that a culture shares in common.  And an attack on the social contract that governs the behavior of members of that culture toward each other.  In our culture we call these attacks "freedom of speech," and we permit them with the understanding that this is "protected speech" and should be permitted, even if it is uncomfortable and impolite.  We are less lenient about speech that is not political, and which attacks the social contract between people.

     The business about changing the meaning of a word seems to me to fall into this latter category.

     If a person is willing to change the meaning of one word unilaterally in the middle of a debate to their own advantage, it undermines the level of trust necessary to hold a discussion.  What terms, then, might be shifted without warning unilaterally in the future?  Why should such a conversation be attempted if it is not done from a position of mutual understanding?

     "Omniscience" probably was the word that you were looking for when it was time to provide a good hook for your title.  But it was not the word that you would want to build a good case around; certainly not the word as it was defined by the dictionary.  You probably could have solved your problem by coming up with a different word in the title, provocative enough for a good lead, and yet defensible without having to distort the language for the work you wanted to do in the body of your responses.  

   I was struck by this exchange between you and Stephanos:

quote:


Stephanos:
What makes some innovations endure, and others fizzle?

Essorant:


I think both wisdom and unwisdom.  On one hand someone may use something in a very wise way and it may catch on and continue, but on the other someone may use something very unwisely and mistakenly and it may catch on and continue as well.  




     What you say here has some merit.

     I think that what may be equally important is what the language needs as opposed to what we need for our own purposes.  As we stumble along in our writing and conversation, we will occasionally come to places where there are ideas that need to be expressed for which there are no words that come quickly to mind, or where those words that come quickly to mind have an over-chewed texture to them, and an over-familiar flavor and too simple or too rough a shape.  At those places and at those times the language asks us for a contribution.  We can rise to it or not, and the contribution will be accepted or not, but there will be out chance.  It is a playful moment of creation as much as it is wisdom.

Anyway, some thoughts of my own on the nature of the dilemma.

Best wishes, Bob Kaven
Essorant
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35 posted 02-09-2009 12:01 AM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Bob.  

For myself though, I don't care to wordwrestle about it any further.  I will leave the rest to you and Stephanos.
Stephanos
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36 posted 02-09-2009 10:29 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Ess,

Me and Bob are going at it in at least a couple of other threads.  Add another conversation with that guy, and my tongue is fit to be tied.  

(just kidding Bob)

I do get away with spelling his name backwards, anytime I want to express subtle disdain.  

Stephen.
Bob K
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37 posted 02-10-2009 08:50 PM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K



     People do it all the time.  I've been known to do it myself.


bob
Stephanos
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38 posted 02-12-2009 10:36 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

yeah boB, it's really hard to detect ... especially when you capitalize the last letter and then sneak it to the front.  
 
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