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Words MEAN things, gad dommit!!

OT Language Cultures

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#1 Delvo

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Posted 09 August 2003 - 02:29 PM

Using the wrong words for something is sloppy at best, and tends to often be a lie, meant to project an image of something as being somethign other than what it is.

This stems from another thread, where I commented that some preacher who had said something about heterosexuals having sex with someone from the same sex had contradicted himself, since people who have sex with someone of the same sex are by definition not heterosexual. They could be bisexual or homosexual; those words exist for a reason. What possible reason could people have to smear the meanings together as if they didn't exist? I can't even see how this would serve a political agenda, but certain people are stretching and contorting and twisting and doing mental acrobatics, anything to pretend that "hetereosexual" doesn't mean what it means.

But while I'm at it on THOSE words...

The cultures and people of southeastern Asia and some of its nearby islands are Oriental, because that's the Orient. Get over it. "Asian" means something else; it EXludes the Oriental islands off the Asian coast and INcludes parts of Asia to the West and North that aren't Oriental. That's why there are separate words, folks: to cover different meanings... which means you can't just interchange them. And no, don't try pulling that "it's just the rugs" crap on me; that's something you definition-deniers invented. And "Asian-Pacific" doesn't cut it either, because then you're including other places and cultures that are either Asian or Pacific but aren't Oriental. It's like saying "tree-shrub" when you mean "juniper". Yes, there are juniper trees and juniper shrubs, but there are plenty of trees and shrubs that aren't junipers.

Perpetrators commit crimes, not suspects. Hopefully, the suspect IS the perpetrator, and there'll be an investigation and a trial to find out. But a news report describing the crime with "the suspect did this, then the suspect did that..." is doing it wrong.

"Diversity" means there are multiple different kinds of people or things being considered. It does not mean "black" or "minority" or "liberal" or "Muslim" or "foreign" or "atheist" or any other such particular group. So any activity or scholarship or whatever that attracts any such particular group of people attracts those people. It doesn't attract "diversity". "Diverse" participants in a phenomenon can't all, or even predominantly, be the same.

Add your own; there are plenty more. I know I've got more of these, but I'll post this for now and see what gets added to it and what else pops into my mind to add later...

#2 Godeskian

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Posted 09 August 2003 - 02:46 PM

Yes, the ability to express oneself with botht he correct words, and in an eloquent fashion seems to be becoming lost in the world today.

However language is also constantly changing, and some words don't mean the same thing to the same people.

Defy Gravity!


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#3 Delvo

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Posted 09 August 2003 - 02:58 PM

Ya, evolution I can handle. What bugs me is when people just do it in the absence of any ACTUAL linguistic evolution, which seems to always be for bad purposes (deception, distraction from the real subject, snobbery, pointless argumentativeness).

#4 Godeskian

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Posted 09 August 2003 - 03:32 PM

And yet, linguistic evolution is hardly a process that happens at the same time all over the world. A local area may be using a word differently than the rest of the world, while still understanding one and other.

after all, the whole point of language is communication.

If you know that i call soccer football, then if i say football you know what i'm talking about, so it doesn't really matter that I use a different word than you might.

Defy Gravity!


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#5 Ilphi

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Posted 09 August 2003 - 04:21 PM

Speaking of Football, I find it annoying when the American's call our game actually played with the foot "Soccer" :p

(Don't take that too seriously - I don't know if anyone remembers but last time this happened on the slipstream it started World War III between the American and British members of the board... aahh..memories :p)
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#6 GiGi

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Posted 09 August 2003 - 04:37 PM

Delvo, as the person who brought the whole issue up in the other thread, I can only say that words are just the finger pointing to the moon, but not the moon.

One of my favorite subjects is semantics.

Here is the definition of that word -
1. Linguistics. The study or science of meaning in language.
2. Linguistics. The study of relationships between signs and symbols and what they represent. Also called semasiology.
3. The meaning or the interpretation of a word, sentence, or other language form: We're basically agreed; let's not quibble over semantics.

When I was in High School, my English teacher gave us all a semantics test.  The whole class failed the test.  Not because we were stupid, but because we made assumptions regarding the semantics of the story in the test.

So word meanings can change given how something is viewed.

The men in the middle east do not give a fig about how you interpret their sexual behavior.  The words you use are most likely meaningless.  They do what they do because of the extreme level of mysogeny in some of the cultures there.  The picture of a person that we get in our head when we discribe a "homosexual" is most likely to be as ludicrous as to fit a description of them as if we said they were a "hippopotamus... in their view. (I say most likely because I have never talked to a middle eastern man about this issue, only to  middle eastern women)

The Archbishop on the other hand, looks as if he has studied the culture enough to know the attitude about men sodomizing young boys and how completely normal it is for them.  The Bible was written as a guide for the middle eastern cultures (and I include Jewish in this) on how to live and survive in an extreme desert climate and survive as well as establishing spiritual guidelines.  So it is absolutely necessary to understand the culture it was written for so that as correct of an interpretation of the words as possible can be made.

These are just basic rules of interpreting languages.

The Bible was not written by white conservative men.  So why do you think that using English words to interpret passages that are somewhat poetic and vague to begin with is going to do the most correct interpretation.

I say it won't be.  Again just looking at the vast difference in the English meaning of the word "Virgin" (a woman who has never had sex) and the word(s) it is translated from, in Greek, "parthenos" or Hebrew "almah". Both words mean "unmarried girl" whether she was chaste or not, and was also applied to unmarried mothers.  So if that is really the correct translation, the whole "miracle" of a "virgin birth" as we interpret it (Mary not having sex with any man) could be called into question.

I say those are important things to understand, and that has nothing to do with you calling us "liberals" to try and call into question the points we were trying to make.
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#7 Rhea

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Posted 09 August 2003 - 04:49 PM

^Good point, Gigi.

I suspect that exposure to other cultures, and the willingness to absorb and reflect on their world views has a lot to do with making skeptics out of people like you and me.

I was 8 when we moved to Hawaii, and I spent years living in an all-Japanese (except my family) neighborhood, and going to school with Japanese, Hawaiian and Chinese kids. Their beliefs and their perception of reality is, fundamentally, very different from ours in the West. My parents treated it as an adventure, and we enjoyed the slow process of learning from them over the years as we lived side-by-side.

But when you take our narrow Western WASPy viewpoint and set it next to a more in-depth knowledge of someone else's world view, it becomes immediately clear that European civilization is just ONE of many world-views held by this planet's inhabitants.

It also causes you to take a more detached view of your *own* culture and to realize that Western philopsopy and culture is not THE view - it is A view.

Words are particularly slippery. Their meaning change across times.  I could give you umpteen examples of a word that means one thing, then 20 years later it's used as slang to connote a totally DIFFERENT thing.

Words are simply a way to let human beings communicate - to agree upon certain common concepts. It continually changes (I studied linguistics, like Gigi, because the study of language is part and parcel of the study of anthropology).

If you REALLY believe words have finite meanings, try this: have someone make a short speech on any subject at all - for maximum fun make it a hot topic- to 20 people. Then have those people immediately right down what the speech was about. You'll get 20 different answers.
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#8 Tyrman

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Posted 09 August 2003 - 06:41 PM

I'd just like to comment on your section about the term "Asian," Delvo.

I'm from India. Well, my parents are. I was born here in the US. But I greatly value my Indian blood, partly because of the nobility in it. Now, on job applications, there's that section about your ethinicity. I always put down Asian, cause that's not lying. Inida is, after all, the Asian subcontinent. So when I go in for the interview, the employer looks at me, looks at my application, and says, "Sorry, you took me by surprise. I was expecting someone Chineese." Being one of my pet peeves, I go on to educate the person on the vast scope of countries that Asia contains. Unfortunately, it doesn't help my application along much.... :blush:  :blush:
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#9 Han

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Posted 09 August 2003 - 08:10 PM

I've always considered "Asian" as a more general label for people from Asia. I'm Chinese so I consider myself both Oriental and Asian. I've always defined oriental as people from cultures primarily influenced by China. (Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, Vietnamese, Thai, Mongolians, Cambodians, etc.) just to narrow down what kind of Asian people are. Don't know where I picked up that definition but that's what I've always thought 'oriental' meant.

Here's what I found at Dictionary.com:

Quote

o·ri·en·tal
adj.
often Oriental Of or relating to the countries of the Orient or their peoples or cultures; eastern.
Oriental Of or designating the biogeographic region that includes Asia south of the Himalaya Mountains and the islands of the Malay Archipelago.

n.
often Oriental Often Offensive. An Asian.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
ori·ental·ly adv.
Usage Note: Asian is now strongly preferred in place of Oriental for persons native to Asia or descended from an Asian people. The usual objection to Orientalmeaning “eastern”is that it identifies Asian countries and peoples in terms of their location relative to Europe. However, this objection is not generally made of other Eurocentric terms such as Near and Middle Eastern. The real problem with Oriental is more likely its connotations stemming from an earlier era when Europeans viewed the regions east of the Mediterranean as exotic lands full of romance and intrigue, the home of despotic empires and inscrutable customs. At the least these associations can give Oriental a dated feel, and as a noun in contemporary contexts (as in the first Oriental to be elected from the district) it is now widely taken to be offensive. However, Oriental should not be thought of as an ethnic slur to be avoided in all situations. As with Asiatic, its use other than as an ethnonym, in phrases such as Oriental cuisine or Oriental medicine, is not usually considered objectionable.

Quote

o·ri·ent   
n.
Orient The countries of Asia, especially of eastern Asia.

Archaic. The place on the horizon where the sun rises; the east.

Quote

A·sian   
adj.
Of or relating to Asia or its peoples, languages, or cultures.

n.
A native or inhabitant of Asia.
A person of Asian descent.
Usage Note: Asia is the largest of the continents with more than half the world's population. Though strictly speaking all of its inhabitants are Asians, in practice this term is applied almost exclusively to the peoples of East, Southeast, and South Asia as opposed to those of Southwest Asiasuch as Arabs, Turks, Iranians, and Kurdswho are more usually designated Middle or Near Easterners. Indonesians and Filipinos are properly termed Asian, since their island groups are considered part of the Asian continent, but not the Melanesians, Micronesians, and Polynesians of the central and southern Pacific, who are now often referred to collectively as Pacific Islanders. See Usage Note at Oriental.


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Han

Edited by Hankuang, 09 August 2003 - 08:21 PM.

Han

#10 prolog

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Posted 10 August 2003 - 09:55 PM

Tyrman, on Aug 9 2003, 11:41 PM, said:

I was born here in the US. But I greatly value my Indian blood, partly because of the nobility in it.
The Indian caste system is terrible.  Any system which institutionalizes discrimination and repression is at best archaic and harmful.

#11 Bad Wolf

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Posted 10 August 2003 - 10:17 PM

Quote

Any system which institutionalizes discrimination and repression is at best archaic and harmful.

And yet, is that not what so many religions do?  Institutionalize anti gay sentiment?

Lil
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#12 CJ AEGIS

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Posted 10 August 2003 - 10:24 PM

Ilphi, on Aug 9 2003, 09:21 PM, said:

Speaking of Football, I find it annoying when the American's call our game actually played with the foot "Soccer" :p
You mean that game has a name? ;)

Just like I find it perpetually annoying when I hear baseball called Rounders.   :p
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#13 prolog

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Posted 10 August 2003 - 10:45 PM

Una Salus Lillius, on Aug 11 2003, 03:17 AM, said:

Quote

Any system which institutionalizes discrimination and repression is at best archaic and harmful.

And yet, is that not what so many religions do?  Institutionalize anti gay sentiment?

Lil
I agree.  But my understanding of India is that the caste system is still tightly interwoven in the society.  And from what I've read on the subject, discrimination against homosexuals by most major religions is damned near nothing compared to what outcastes such as Untouchables commonly have to deal with in India.  It's more like what African Americans (is that the right term?  Canada doesn't use "African Canadian", and I don't know if "black" is still acceptable to say or not) had to deal with in the 19th century.

#14 Bad Wolf

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Posted 10 August 2003 - 10:55 PM

^

Yay for separation of Church and State in this country.

:)
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#15 Delvo

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Posted 10 August 2003 - 11:13 PM

prolog, on Aug 10 2003, 09:45 PM, said:

African Americans (is that the right term?  Canada doesn't use "African Canadian", and I don't know if "black" is still acceptable to say or not)
Most people still say "black" just because it works the best ("negro" does indeed sound like "n*gger", which is indeed an epithet, so they SHOULD be unused, while "colored" just invokes rainbow-looking people) and because most Americans got sick of constantly being told that WHATEVER they call black people, it's still always an insult. Plus, African-American just has too many syllables. Plus, it's inaccurate for the way it's supposed to be used, since there were pre-Columbian natives of Africa that weren't black.

And black people in Africa are sometimes called African American Africans... proving that when people say African-American, what they're really thinking of is "black" anyway, not the actual phrase being pronounced, since otherwise there'd be no reason to call such people Americans.

And "Latino/Latina" is a good one; it's derived from something related to the background of the people it refers to (since they speak languages derived from Latin), but altered to acknowledge that it's actually something a bit different (including the people and culture not just the language, which itself isn't Latin anymore). But then there are the people who just say "Latin" when they mean "Latino". :crazy: Latin was the language of the Romans, which is dead! Spanish (or occasinally Portuguese in some cases I've seen referring to Brazilians) is the language of Latinos, who are alive!

Here's another one. Terror is a feeling which human beings can experience for various reasons. Terrorism is actions intended to cause a group of people to experience terror. They're not interchangible! And if you have one of those R-deleting accents, "terra" is the way you're expected to pronounce it since you do that to other Rs all the time, but if you don't, then you have no reason to say "terra" unless you're referring to the Latin (not Latino ;)) word for "earth"! So STOP it, O'Reilly! Why in the world would you want to fake someone else's accent that sounds bad?

OK, so that last part was just a personal peeve and not really a miscarriage of language... :blush:

Edited by Delvo, 10 August 2003 - 11:17 PM.


#16 FlatlandDan

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Posted 11 August 2003 - 12:38 AM

Edit:  Double post.

Edited by FlatlandDan, 11 August 2003 - 12:39 AM.

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It gives a lovely light."
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#17 FlatlandDan

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Posted 11 August 2003 - 12:39 AM

On a somewhat side note, I had a prof take 10% of a paper because I described a Japanese fountain as oriental.

She said that is was no longer politically correct.

-Dan

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My candle burns at both its ends;
It will not last the night;
But oh, my foes, and oh, my friends --
It gives a lovely light."
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#18 Taryn Wander'r

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Posted 11 August 2003 - 02:08 AM

Una Salus Lillius, on Aug 11 2003, 03:55 AM, said:

^

Yay for separation of Church and State in this country.

:)
Sort of kind of. ;)

#19 GiGi

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Posted 11 August 2003 - 02:18 AM

FlatlandDan, on Aug 10 2003, 09:39 PM, said:

On a somewhat side note, I had a prof take 10% of a paper because I described a Japanese fountain as oriental.

She said that is was no longer politically correct.

-Dan

:ninja:
What!

That is ridiculous. "Politically correct" is just another way for some people to control others.

Unbelievable!!!!!
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#20 Ilphi

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Posted 11 August 2003 - 03:05 AM

Quote

CJ AEGIS said:
You mean that game has a name?

Actually, seriously, I don't know what it is about American's and Football, can someone elaborate for me? Most other countries in the world seem to have embraced the game (And I'm not going to pretend the English invented it, it was the Roman Settlers in Britain who originally played the game with a bag which one team had to get from one side to the other, no rules, but I digress...) but I'm just curious as to why the game has never really taken off in the States.

I know since the World Cup its gone up a little since the USA team didn't do half-bad.
Yea, ere my hot youth pass, I speak to my people and say:
Ye shall be foolish as I; ye shall scatter, not save;
Ye shall venture your all, lest ye lose what is more than all;
Ye shall call for a miracle, taking Christ at His word.
And for this I will answer, O people, answer here and hereafter,
The Fool - Padraic Pearse



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