Wednesday, September 24, 2008

PHILOLOGY
...the branch of knowledge that deals with the structure, historical development, and relationships of a language or languages



On a much lighter note today...


Lately I have been addressing the rude, crude, ribald, scatological, feckless speech of maverick Bible teachers and preachers who fail to adhere to the axiom that words really do mean something. And though some disagree, they actually have meaning in and of themselves. It is a matter of vocabulary; and the etymology of language will reveal a word's inherent meaning. Contrary to the emerging, pomo, culturally pragmatic jackanapes that "feel" words primarily obtain meaning by someone's individual intent or fluctuation of tone - vocabulary is primary and foundational.

So here is an entertaining and educational segment on five very interesting words featured recently on The Factor with Bill O'Reilly. Bill's guest is a woman named Marina who was born in Russia and a highly educated philologist (don't let her pulchritudinous image fool you). She addresses one of the words that I used in an article last week which I was criticized for called "pinhead." You might be surprised at its actual meaning. I hope you will have fun learning the meaning of this word, and others, which in turn will assist in raising the bar of the nomenclature that we use everyday. Who knows, maybe our vocabulary will be lifted to such heights that the "s" word will come to be known as "sesquipedalian" rather than the one more ordure.

So this is my gift this week to all the emerging/emergent, postmodern, pseudo-reformed, young and reckless popinjay's who are more prone to see the vocabulary and etymology of language as floccinaucinihilipilification. 

So remember, a rich, engaged vocabulary can really help one communicate more effectively. But we must be careful, for we do not want the mere learning of words to puff up or create a pecksniffian attitude. Let's use them wisely; for there is no greater duty for the Christian in general (and pastor/teacher specifically) than to proclaim the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, teach His Word, and give the sense of it to the people (1 Cor. 9:16; 2 Tim. 4:1-5; Neh. 8:8).

VIVAT!
Campi

28 comments:

ann_in_grace said...

LOL!
I am very impressed by Marina, and a bit proud, too - coming from the same language family as she does :)
We indeed need to expand our vocabulary, to enrich it, to spice our language in a positive way.

Ann the philologist :) <--- I really am one, too

SJ Camp said...

Thanks Ann
In light of the past week's discussion I thought it would be fun and yet a learning experience to show the importance of a working vocabulary and the meaning of words.

Didn't know you were a philologist... :-). Very cool.

Have a great day,
Steve

bluewoad said...

Thanks for the link, Steve. I pulled it up, then reduced the window and listened instead of having to watch this, um, pulchritudinous young lady.

I agree entirely that having a stronger vocabulary allows you to avoid feeling the 'need' to use less savory language to express strong feelings.

But, the linguist in me (I studied medieval lang and lit in grad school) cringed at some of her explanations. The origin for 'blooter' is unknown. The explanation she put forth is a folk etymology but the exact origin is unknown. Given that the written word doesn't show up until the 17th century, the 'from the Latin' explanation is probably not valid.

Also, 'pinhead' dates back to the 16th century, so her explanation doesn't hold up.

But that doesn't change the fact that one should try to have a larger vocabulary. One doesn't need use it always, but having it handy keeps the language alive and vibrant and less tawdry.

SJ Camp said...

bluewoad
I don't know anything about this person except what I saw last evening on The Factor. Seemed like a fun and somewhat educational time.

Thanks for the clarifications though... Is there a site that you would recommend that does give more technical and historically accurate etymologies of words?

It's only a hobby of mine... but I would like to be steered in the right direction.

Thanks my brother,
Campi

Denise said...

One of my favorite words is "kerfuffle". It just rolls off the tongue and has such a nice ring to it. =) Its a noun and means "fuss" of "disturbance":

"The KERFUFFLE arose from the S-word dropping in the video."

=)

littlegal_66 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Denise said...

I have to ask this, regarding the meaning of words.....

Piper uses "Christian Hedonism"---is that a fair use of either word?

littlegal_66 said...

Yippee, a semantics discussion!! (A Turkish Delight for wannabe wordsmiths such as myself). ;-)

I like the word, “LOGORRHEA,” the meaning of which is no where near as gross as it sounds. Unfortunately, it’s not the type of word that would fit into your average daily conversation, (unless you want folks thinking you’re contagious); still, it’s something that I’ve been guilty of a lot, on this blog especially....even with this comment! :-)

Incidentally, Steve, there’s a website forum, “International House of Logorrhea,” you’d find intriguing today.
(But I’ll give you fair warning, you could lose yourself in the material and wind up spending hours there before you know it). :-)

MadTownGuy said...

Finally a topic on which I can render at least a semi-educated opinion! I have training (a degree and some post-grad work) in linguistics, which encompasses philology, sociology and anthropology along with a host of other disciplines.

I have found the information at Random House's "Word Maven" to be most reliable. I regret that the person who ran and updated the site has passed on, but the information there is useful as regards arcane words and phrases.

One caution: they do have "sensitive language" entries which are of the sort that Campi - rightly - eschews, but you need not click on them. That said, here's the site:

http://www.randomhouse.com/wotd/index.pperl?action=dly__alph_arc&fn=word

Or click on this link.

MadTownGuy said...

Whoops! The URL as typed out is correct but the link has a typographical error. This is better:

LINK

melissa said...

Good post! I love words, I made my best grades in school in vocabulary and writing. I must admit though, I had to pull out my dictionary for this post! LOL!

Carla said...

Truth be told, I often read COT with dictionary.com open in a seperate tab.

Some words though, are just way more fun redefined:

jackanapes: a slice of thin, old pumpkin flavored bread, made with Nov. 1 jack-o-lanterns. Best served lightly toasted and topped with a lovely cheese spread.

pulchritudinous: the very small nasal gland that causes you to yawn when someone else does (even if you only hear them do it, over the phone), or sneeze when you look into the sun.

sesquipedalian: land animal resembling the giant sea squid. Native to the southwestern portion of the USA. Common habitat: the coffee bar at Barnes & Noble.

floccinaucinihilipilification: the end result of a sneeze, when you have the stomach flu, food poisioning and a sinus infection at the same time. Generally requires frequent hand-washing and a pain reliever.

pecksniffian: the bird that uses your windshield (driver's side) every morning for his restroom. pecksniffery: most effectively removed with windshield washer fluid.

SJ Camp said...

Carla
That is really fun! I knew you were emergent - taking words and reinventing their meanings to suit your own experiences... :-).

Very clever...
Campi

SJ Camp said...

Denise
Kerfuffle. One of my favorites too.
Campi

Carla said...

True enough Steve, the gig is up. I'm emergent.

laughs maniacally and runs away in her birks clutching her Message bible and Starbucks travel mug...

SJ Camp said...

madtownguy
Finally a topic on which I can render at least a semi-educated opinion! I have training (a degree and some post-grad work) in linguistics, which encompasses philology, sociology and anthropology along with a host of other disciplines.

Can I send you articles before I post them in the future? :-).

What a great well of knowledge to pull from. Thanks for the link, btw. I will use it many times each week.

Campi

SJ Camp said...

Denise
Kerfuffle. One of my favorites too.
Campi

SJ Camp said...

littlegal
Another great link. Some very interesting words there. Really good!

Thanks for the heads up...
Campi

SJ Camp said...

Anyone know of a link to strictly theological terms like this and their respective etymologies?

That might prove to be really helpful.

ann_in_grace said...

Etymology Dictionary
Very nice source, i play with it a lot and send my students to use it as well.

bluewoad said...

Steve,

I usually use the Oxford English Dictionary, which has not only the etymology, but also reflective quotations from the history of the word.

The OED is fairly conservative, so it's not going to make some of the wild 'folk etymology' statements that make linguists cringe. :-)

Denise said...

I'm still pondering Piper's use of hedonism in the phrase "Christian hedonism".

So far this is what I found:

Hedonism: Greek hēdonē pleasure; akin to Greek hēdys sweet

1 : the doctrine that pleasure or happiness is the sole or chief good in life 2 : a way of life based on or suggesting the principles of hedonism

History:

HEDONE was the spirit (daimona) of pleasure, enjoyment and delight. As a daughter of Eros (Love) she was associated more specifically with sensual pleasure. Her opposite number were the Algea (Pains). The Romans named her Voluptas.

In Scripture I found the word uses in relation to unbelievers:

2Pe 2:13 suffering wrong as the wage for their wrongdoing. They count it pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, while they feast with you.


So can Piper rightfully say there is such a thing as "Christian hedonism" given the etomology and connotations historically connected with "hedonism"?

Is he not himself, redefining words in order to be shocking? Is this not a post-modern thing to do?

thewordproject said...

Pecksniffian attitude. Wow! did you watch or read Charles Dicken's novel Martin Chuzzlewit (serialized 1843-1844)

or did you listen to or read the book called "The meaning of it all" about the creation of the first Oxford dictionary. Extrodinary.

blessed by God through your blog.

bluewoad said...

Denise,

No, I don't think Piper is redefining the term at all. Dictionaries are descriptive, describing how a word is used. Natural language use is to push the semantic field of a word to find new ways while still honoring the meaning of the word.

For Piper, 'hedonism' is the belief that the point of life is to be happy, and as he describes in his book 'Desiring God', for a Christian that happiness comes in enjoying God (WSC answer 1: Man's chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever). Accg to Piper, we are to be hedonists in Him: our aim and purpose, as the Westminster divines understood it, is to seek pleasure in God.

The etymology of a word is good only to give you an idea how it may have been used, not to limit the usage of the word. DA Carson in 'Exegetical Fallacies' points out that one error that many make is to equate etymology with meaning. That way lies madness.

SJ Camp said...

bluewoad
I understand what Piper is trying to say by using the word hedonism in Desiring God. But it really begs the point for me.

It's a matter of priority and emphasis isn't it... His glory and exaltation alone; not the selfish pursuit of His glory.

Piper likes to be provocative for provocatives sake sometimes. Christian Hedonism, IMHO, falls in that camp.

I think he was possibly being tendentious in the choice of that phrase but not eristic.

Russ Davis said...

Dear Steve:
In view of your considering the enriching the language of the text, as a Reformed Bach-loving organist I invite you to a further enriching adventure of engaging your fame and influence on Christ's Church to likewise enrich your and our melodic and harmonic language today by meditating on the richness of the saintly Johann Sebastian Bach, affectionately known by some musicians as "The Fifth Evangelist." See the piano-vocal version scores of his great, profound cantatas at www.bach-cantatas.com. For virtual pipe organ mp3s of his greatest organ music ever composed, www.virtuallybaroque.com
(Bach by title: www.virtuallybaroque.com/list2b.htm,
Bach by BWV#: www.virtuallybaroque.com/list6.htm, especially
www.virtuallybaroque.com/list6c.htm
www.virtuallybaroque.com/list6d.htm
www.virtuallybaroque.com/list6c.htm), though of course many of these works other than that based on the chorale (German hymn) lacks the sacred Christ-centered text so crucial for his work as for you. While I try to keep as abrest of modern Christian "music" as I can I must admit its poverty of melody and harmony is so great it's sometimes hard to endure, so I invite you prayerfully to reflect on Bach's music as an influence that has even moved great pagan Dawkins to chose it for a trip to a desert island, a piece from one of his Passions no less! that shows him still powerfully preaching God's Word through his music despite being dead for 258 years! Solely by Grace! Solely to God's Glory!
Score index:
www.bach-cantatas.com/IndexScores.htm
Text & translation index:
www.bach-cantatas.com/IndexTexts.htm

Russ Davis said...

Dear Steve:
If you had read John Piper's SCRIPTURAL basis for Christian hedonism you couldn't say what you have said (sadly rejecting it for human wisdom and Biblical ignorance so common today), a basis given in many places at www.desiringGod.org, especially in his flagship book "Desiring God" the relevent part of which is seen at www.desiringgod.org/dg/id228_cf.htm.
where it cites Deuteronomy 28 :47-48.
As he says in part,
"... 4. The fourth reason I use the term Christian Hedonism is that it has an arresting and jolting effect. My heart has been arrested and my life has been deeply jolted by the teaching of Christian Hedonism. It is not an easy or comfortable philosophy. It is extremely threatening to nominal Christlans.

It is based on the devastating truth of Christ when he said, "Because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth" (Revelation 3:16). This is utterly shocking. Should we not then find words to shock ourselves into realizing that eternity is at stake when we disobey the commandment, "Delight yourselfin the Lord (Psalm 37:4)?

Most of us are virtually impervious to the radical implications of familiar language. What language shall we borrow to awaken joyless believers to the words of Deuteronomy 28 :47-48 ?

Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joyfulness and gladness of heart . . . therefore you shall serve your enemies whom the Lord will send against you. . . and he will put a voke of iron upon your neck, until he has destroyed you.

How shall we open their ears to the shout of Jeremy Taylor: "God threatens terrible things, if we will not be happy!"?9

I have found over the years that there is a correlation between people's willingness to get over the offensiveness of the term Christian Hedonism and their willingness to yield to the offensive biblical truth behind it. The chief effect of the term is not that it creates a stumbling block to the truth, but that it wakens people to the fact that the truth itself is a stumbling block-and often a very different one than they expected."
God save us all and open our heats and minds and thoughts and ways to His that are higher,
Russ Davis

Denise said...

"For Piper, 'hedonism' is the belief that the point of life is to be happy, and as he describes in his book 'Desiring God', for a Christian that happiness comes in enjoying God (WSC answer 1: Man's chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever). Accg to Piper, we are to be hedonists in Him: our aim and purpose, as the Westminster divines understood it, is to seek pleasure in God." - bluewood

Hi bluewood.

Here's where part of the problem is. Why is a word definition up to Piper to create? That actually makes my point. Piper is using a historically pagan notion and slapping it onto Christ and HIS own, and he knew he was being provocative when he did it. This is not the way of Christ Jesus.

The word "hedone" used in Scripture was not for believers but UNBELIEVERS. Its a perversion to use such a word for Christians.

2Pe 2:13 suffering wrong as the wage for their wrongdoing. They count it pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, while they feast with you.

I would recommend reading this article: http://www.metropolitantabernacle.org/?page=articles&id=3

This is the problem with Post-Modern thinking: anyone can redefine terms and claim truth is blurry. I mean, now we've got "Muslim Christians" and "Christians" claiming "Allah" is a perfectly suitable name for God, when in fact HE has already revealed His name to us. As 1Cor. 6says, we cannot marry paganism with Christ or Christianity. I believe God is very specific in the words HE chose to use to reveal Himself to us.

Also, "WCF" I think you meant to say. WCF isn't Scripture. I do not want man's commentary on the duty of man. I want the Master's view.

Scripture says:

Ecc 12:13 The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. 14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.

Within Scripture we see all that the "whole duty" of man contains. Its not a sensuous or sensual enjoyment of the here and now. Its pleasing the Master and being conformed to His image. Does it mean we don't enjoy His creation? No. But that is not the whole duty of man. We are not of this world and therefore are not to be preoccupied by the things of it:

2Ti 2:4 No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. 5 An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.

I hope you see what I mean.