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On Evil Euphemisms

Discussion in 'The Ancient Way - Eastern Orthodox' started by rusmeister, Mar 14, 2009.

  1. rusmeister

    rusmeister A Russified American Orthodox Chestertonian

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    I'd like to propose this thread as a list for people to offer modern terms and language that we all use that actually undercut our faith. If you think of a word or term, throw it in and if you can, add it on!

    One of the things that has fascinated me lately is how modern words deliberately crowd out Christian ones. (It's Chesterton's "Evil Euphemisms" again). Do read this short essay! It was such an eye-opener for me!
    http://www.cse.dmu.ac.uk/~mward/gkc/books/on_evil_euphemisms.html
    (It's abridged from it's original form - it's only four paragraphs here)

    And a good general resource for investigating the history of words:
    http://www.etymonline.com/index.php

    Inspired by Giantsbran's recent thread asking about altruism:
    "Altruism" - from the online etymological dictionary:
    It was obviously coined in order to not say the awful Christian word "charity" (love, as in the Greek 'agape') and came to be seen as something 'optional', or the province of the wealthy and has come to be associated with 'philanthropism', another fun (if slightly older) word that helps distance the idea of Christian charity from being a universal responsibility (ie, your job, too).

    The key with all of our language, I think, is to ask "What language was used to describe this 100, 200, or 500 years ago? When did this word come to be used, by whom and why?" You'll notice that such terms are post-Endarkenment (what the world calls "the Enlightenment").

    All these modern terms (or modern uses of old terms), from 'birth-control' to 'abortion' to 'homosexual' to 'gender' to the new "polyamory" :sick: spring from thought that is opposed to Christianity. As Christians, we ought to do our best to clean up our language as we learn that the world has taught us to speak and think in ways that are subtly opposed to our Faith.

    Imagine if everybody began to use the old Christian words that describe the real nature of those things - If we said
    "birth sabotage" instead of 'birth control',
    "baby-murder" instead of 'abortion',
    "sodomy" instead of 'homosexuality' ,
    "sex" instead of 'gender' (and "have marital relations" instead of "have sex"
    "fornication (with many people)" instead of Polygamy and other, much newer terms sanitizing fornication,
    etc.

    That's what I do now, at any rate. I reject the language of the world, at least as regards how I think about it. The euphemism is a step towards justifying the thing.
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2009
  2. Giantsbran1227

    Giantsbran1227 The Sinner.

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    Thanks for that man.

    An awesome post.
     
  3. Chesterton

    Chesterton Whats So Funny bout Peace Love and Understanding Supporter

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    Something I think is dangerous is "self-esteem". I guess there can be some healthy aspect to this, but most often it's replacing the word "pride", and we're not supposed to esteem ourselves.
     
  4. Giantsbran1227

    Giantsbran1227 The Sinner.

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    ^^^^
    O yea, that's a big one. The youth is raised in a environment that teaches loving ones self is the most important thing and that we should always have confidence in our OWN ability at all times.

    Satan works in very deceitful and tricky ways.
     
  5. Barky

    Barky Member Supporter

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    I think there's actually a valid distinction here. Sex is the actual physical characteristics of the person, gender is the identity of the person. For example, gender for men in our culture denotes an attraction towards cars, guns, etc, all those "manly things" you think of. Not to condone homosexuality by any means (which I think is the issue you are trying to rise), but it is something that some people find themselves experiencing.
     
  6. AureateDawn

    AureateDawn Love & Peace

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    I get the idea of this thread, and I like it. I really think you have a point. But some of these make me raise an eyebrow. There IS a distinction between homosexuality and the purely sexual act of sodomy. Sex and gender are different things. And while polygamy is still fornication, what's so bad about having a specific term for fornication w/ many people?

    The whole thing with the underlying principles of our language betraying our faith is one that really needs more attention, and is an interesting topic - but it can also be taken too far.
     
  7. rusmeister

    rusmeister A Russified American Orthodox Chestertonian

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    Barky, you are describing how you understand the word today. You say "Sex is", "gender denotes". My whole point is that word use has changed, most dramatically over the past 100-150 years.
    I type in "gender" at the etymology site and get:

    Not that I place absolute faith in an one website, but it certainly corroborates all of my knowledge from literature and primary sources - that the word "gender" was really not used this way before the 20th century. (If you could produce one instance of usage that does, I could produce 500 that don't.)

    I am aware that godly people use these words to denote the things you say they do. My point is that the very usage was predicated from the get-go on the desire to remove proper stigma from sin - and it has clearly worked with a vengeance. Yes - people DO see things differently today. And language has been one of the main influencing factors on that. I would say, using Lewis's language from his "space trilogy", that their vision has been bent.

    As long as you guys are limited to using the present simple tense, you are victims of your own time. (Knowing thoroughly other languages besides English also helps to see what is present in one language, absent in another, or what has been imported into one language from another as well.)

    In short, it is necessary to respond to this part of the OP:
     
  8. MoNiCa4316

    MoNiCa4316 Totus Tuus

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    :thumbsup: good thread....

    one that I notice a lot is when people use the word "love" to describe what is actually lust or attraction. It's no longer about giving to someone... it's something selfish, and nothing more than a feeling...
     
  9. joyfulthanks

    joyfulthanks The long day is over. Praise the Lord!

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    One that drives me nuts - "He had an affair" rather than "He committed adultery."
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2009
  10. joyfulthanks

    joyfulthanks The long day is over. Praise the Lord!

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    Or this one: "I made a mistake" rather than "I committed a sin."
     
  11. joyfulthanks

    joyfulthanks The long day is over. Praise the Lord!

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    Or "your significant other," (when referring to cohabiting fornicators) rather than "your partner in fornication."
     
  12. Barky

    Barky Member Supporter

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    Point understood now, thanks for correction
     
  13. MilitantSheep

    MilitantSheep Regular Member

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    Birth-sabotage? :scratch: Well I can see how some people would think that but... mneh. I will never be able to make an argument good enough to convince a particularly gullible gnat. It would revolve around "God made it feel good, if it was purely functional He wouldn't have done" then maybe "If a man or woman is infertile, should they never do it, because there would be no chance of children and effectively natural 'birth-sabotage'?"
     
  14. -Kyriaki-

    -Kyriaki- seeking answers in stillness

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    Significant other simply means romantic partner, whether that's dating/courting/seeing one another, engaged, or married. Or cohabiting :p It's a nice term that just lumps everyone in together, and while I can see it being used as a euphemism in a bad way it's also very useful because when you're talking to a mixed group of mixed ages saying to bring their romantic partners to a dinner or something, significant other works! Not everyone will automatically be single or married by the time they're a certain age these days. It's a lot easier than saying "bring your husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend/fiance/partner/whatever you call your gf/bf"
     
  15. rusmeister

    rusmeister A Russified American Orthodox Chestertonian

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    Hi, Kyriaki,
    I apologize - I have somehow completely failed to communicate my thought to you and I'm thinking how I can do that better...
    In short, yes, people do talk like that today. No argument. Yes, it does make reference to "non-traditional lifestyles" easy and comfortable. That's my point. That in doing so it has justified relationships that are sinful as well as ones that are not.
    The old terms - concepts like courtship, fiance and husband/wife (spouse) made it clear if there was anything more than simple "platonic" friendship involved. The new ones do not.
    I'm not sure how else to get across to you that the new terms justify sin by putting valid relationships on equal terms with sinful ones.
     
  16. -Kyriaki-

    -Kyriaki- seeking answers in stillness

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    No, Rus, you're misunderstanding me. I understand your concept and agree with it. I'm disagreeing with the particular interpretation of that word that the above poster used.

    I could tell my friends that I was hanging out with to come to a BBQ on the weekend (after Pascha of course ;)) and to bring their significant others. They'd know perfectly well what I meant, and it would include everyone - I have friends who are male, female, married, engaged, dating, single. They'd all bring whoever they were romantically involved with, but would be living according to the Church's teachings on relationships...as in, not the sinful kind.

    Significant other doesn't *usually* mean 'person one is fornicating with' it means "person one is romantically linked to, whatever stage of the romance that is and whatever gender that person happens to be". It's a more general word to encompass more people, which is pretty useful in my opinion. In the above example, I'd have to say

    "please come to a BBQ at my house after Pascha, and bring your husband, wife, fiance, boyfriend or girlfriend, who you are romantically linked with in a way that the Church approves of."

    I wasn't objecting to your thread (I think the argument you've brought up here is an interesting and valid one) I was objecting to that specific interpretation of a word :) Sorry for not being clearer.
     
  17. joyfulthanks

    joyfulthanks The long day is over. Praise the Lord!

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    That's why I put in parentheses "when it refers to cohabiting fornicators." :)
     
  18. joyfulthanks

    joyfulthanks The long day is over. Praise the Lord!

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    That's the exact problem with the term "significant other." It does not make a distinction.
     
  19. -Kyriaki-

    -Kyriaki- seeking answers in stillness

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    While we're having this conversation, the world that I think DOES fit in this thread for the idea of cohabiting fornicators is "partner". Which could mean something more innocent but usually doesn't!
     
  20. Chesterton

    Chesterton Whats So Funny bout Peace Love and Understanding Supporter

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    If you have a significant other, does that mean all other family and friends, the other others, are insignificant? :)
     
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