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Definitions of words

Wren_cyborg
Posts: 241
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11/12/2013 10:08:56 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
As of late, I have become fascinated with word definitions. I see that the definitions of words control our ideas; they have great influence over what we believe. Take the term "ambition," for instance. We have an individualistic culture, so the term was softened to fit our desires. What do you think of when you hear the adjective "ambitious?" Somebody who is a hard worker? The term actually means "self-preferment, desire for power." It has been used over the millenia to describe ruthless, power-hungry tyrants. It is classically just about the worst thing you could become, but we now consider it one of the best things you can become because that sense of community is being lost as we favor the individual and our terminology is being changed to follow suit. The internet is facilitating this change as well, because online-definitions are the easiest to change. Dig up your parents or grand-parents Webster or Oxford dictionary if you want the best source of definitions, and I have found that old, hard-back dictionaries disagree quite a bit with what I find online.

Do you agree our language is changing? If so, is it as bad as I am purporting it to be?
themohawkninja
Posts: 816
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11/12/2013 11:57:08 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 11/12/2013 10:08:56 AM, Wren_cyborg wrote:
As of late, I have become fascinated with word definitions. I see that the definitions of words control our ideas; they have great influence over what we believe. Take the term "ambition," for instance. We have an individualistic culture, so the term was softened to fit our desires. What do you think of when you hear the adjective "ambitious?" Somebody who is a hard worker? The term actually means "self-preferment, desire for power." It has been used over the millenia to describe ruthless, power-hungry tyrants. It is classically just about the worst thing you could become, but we now consider it one of the best things you can become because that sense of community is being lost as we favor the individual and our terminology is being changed to follow suit. The internet is facilitating this change as well, because online-definitions are the easiest to change. Dig up your parents or grand-parents Webster or Oxford dictionary if you want the best source of definitions, and I have found that old, hard-back dictionaries disagree quite a bit with what I find online.

Do you agree our language is changing? If so, is it as bad as I am purporting it to be?

Language changes over time. It's not bad, it's just how language works over a time. There's a TED talk on how the short-handed language of texting is a real language, and cites all of these quotes from a few years ago to over two millennia ago about people complaining how their language is changing for the worst (the funniest part is, is that the 2000 year old quote was about how some people were speaking Latin with a certain accent, and it turns out that said different accent became French).
"Morals are simply a limit to man's potential."~Myself

Political correctness is like saying you can't have a steak, because a baby can't eat one ~Unknown
Wren_cyborg
Posts: 241
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11/13/2013 10:32:06 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 11/12/2013 11:57:08 AM, themohawkninja wrote:
At 11/12/2013 10:08:56 AM, Wren_cyborg wrote:
As of late, I have become fascinated with word definitions. I see that the definitions of words control our ideas; they have great influence over what we believe. Take the term "ambition," for instance. We have an individualistic culture, so the term was softened to fit our desires. What do you think of when you hear the adjective "ambitious?" Somebody who is a hard worker? The term actually means "self-preferment, desire for power." It has been used over the millenia to describe ruthless, power-hungry tyrants. It is classically just about the worst thing you could become, but we now consider it one of the best things you can become because that sense of community is being lost as we favor the individual and our terminology is being changed to follow suit. The internet is facilitating this change as well, because online-definitions are the easiest to change. Dig up your parents or grand-parents Webster or Oxford dictionary if you want the best source of definitions, and I have found that old, hard-back dictionaries disagree quite a bit with what I find online.

Do you agree our language is changing? If so, is it as bad as I am purporting it to be?

Language changes over time. It's not bad, it's just how language works over a time. There's a TED talk on how the short-handed language of texting is a real language, and cites all of these quotes from a few years ago to over two millennia ago about people complaining how their language is changing for the worst (the funniest part is, is that the 2000 year old quote was about how some people were speaking Latin with a certain accent, and it turns out that said different accent became French).

That is fascinating, but at the same time the definitions of our words are integral to our grasp on reality. What if scientific terminology started softening and the meanings began to migrate? The problem I have is not with colloquial usage, like texting and the like, but with terms that people took a lot of time to construct in precisely a way that captures the essence of an idea. When the definition of the term starts to drift, the idea is distorted.

Another example is the word "jealousy." Most people use it to describe an envious feeling, even though envy is its own word. Jealousy is to demand somebody be faithful to you. Lots of people struggle with jealousy, and since they don't even quite understand what it is (because the term is so loosely used and poorly defined) , it's quite difficult to avoid being a jealous person!
themohawkninja
Posts: 816
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11/13/2013 11:08:40 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 11/13/2013 10:32:06 AM, Wren_cyborg wrote:
At 11/12/2013 11:57:08 AM, themohawkninja wrote:
At 11/12/2013 10:08:56 AM, Wren_cyborg wrote:
As of late, I have become fascinated with word definitions. I see that the definitions of words control our ideas; they have great influence over what we believe. Take the term "ambition," for instance. We have an individualistic culture, so the term was softened to fit our desires. What do you think of when you hear the adjective "ambitious?" Somebody who is a hard worker? The term actually means "self-preferment, desire for power." It has been used over the millenia to describe ruthless, power-hungry tyrants. It is classically just about the worst thing you could become, but we now consider it one of the best things you can become because that sense of community is being lost as we favor the individual and our terminology is being changed to follow suit. The internet is facilitating this change as well, because online-definitions are the easiest to change. Dig up your parents or grand-parents Webster or Oxford dictionary if you want the best source of definitions, and I have found that old, hard-back dictionaries disagree quite a bit with what I find online.

Do you agree our language is changing? If so, is it as bad as I am purporting it to be?

Language changes over time. It's not bad, it's just how language works over a time. There's a TED talk on how the short-handed language of texting is a real language, and cites all of these quotes from a few years ago to over two millennia ago about people complaining how their language is changing for the worst (the funniest part is, is that the 2000 year old quote was about how some people were speaking Latin with a certain accent, and it turns out that said different accent became French).

That is fascinating, but at the same time the definitions of our words are integral to our grasp on reality. What if scientific terminology started softening and the meanings began to migrate? The problem I have is not with colloquial usage, like texting and the like, but with terms that people took a lot of time to construct in precisely a way that captures the essence of an idea. When the definition of the term starts to drift, the idea is distorted.

Science is actually where words can, if not should change their definitions. What an atom is has changed over time, and nobody would say that that is a bad thing, as the reason why the definition of atom has changed over time, is because we have learned more about the atom over time.

Another example is the word "jealousy." Most people use it to describe an envious feeling, even though envy is its own word. Jealousy is to demand somebody be faithful to you. Lots of people struggle with jealousy, and since they don't even quite understand what it is (because the term is so loosely used and poorly defined) , it's quite difficult to avoid being a jealous person!

I would say that it isn't as much that people don't know what jealousy is (going off of the normally used definition), but rather that people question at what point they are "jealous", as jealousy can be thought of as a continuum.
"Morals are simply a limit to man's potential."~Myself

Political correctness is like saying you can't have a steak, because a baby can't eat one ~Unknown
AnDoctuir
Posts: 11,060
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11/13/2013 11:14:26 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
Well before the industrial revolution you were hardly going to say about a dude who spent all day every day out murdering baby deer that he was ambitious now were you?
Wren_cyborg
Posts: 241
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11/13/2013 7:47:00 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 11/13/2013 11:14:26 AM, AnDoctuir wrote:
Well before the industrial revolution you were hardly going to say about a dude who spent all day every day out murdering baby deer that he was ambitious now were you?

I WILL come out to Ireland and kick your skinny little asss, you know -_-
NiqashMotawadi3
Posts: 1,895
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11/14/2013 1:24:12 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
Many of the highly-praised debaters of this community get away with committing the dictionary fallacy, the fallacy of thinking that certain philosophical questions can be answered by consulting dictionaries.

I agree that definitions of things are integral to our thinking, but I'm more interested in philosophic debates than semantic ones.
AnDoctuir
Posts: 11,060
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11/14/2013 10:14:09 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 11/13/2013 7:47:00 PM, Wren_cyborg wrote:
At 11/13/2013 11:14:26 AM, AnDoctuir wrote:
Well before the industrial revolution you were hardly going to say about a dude who spent all day every day out murdering baby deer that he was ambitious now were you?

I WILL come out to Ireland and kick your skinny little asss, you know -_-

Come at me bro