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Jenny
1245381.  Fri Aug 11, 2017 9:33 am Reply with quote

jn1057 wrote:
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Etymological_fallacy

So it would seem that I should concede that original meanings of words are not definitive nor stable.



Well, yes, actually.

The original meaning of nice was nothing to do with something being pleasant.

Silly once meant blessed rather than foolish.

The original meaning of gay, I'm sure you'll acknowledge, has changed within the last fifty years.

Further examples here.

 
suze
1245396.  Fri Aug 11, 2017 11:59 am Reply with quote

Jenny wrote:
The original meaning of gay, I'm sure you'll acknowledge, has changed within the last fifty years.


My mother-in-law just will not accept that. She's actually not a homophobe, and she finds the fact that Andy's sister is bisexual tending to lesbian "curious" but not distasteful. She has three sons and one daughter, and did once comment that "All four of my kids like girls, which make it easier to remember".

Even so, she refers to gay men as "poofters" and pretends not to understand "gay" in that sense.


One of the odder examples of a word which has changed its meaning over time is the verb to leave, which originally meant to remain (cf German bleiben, with which it shares an etymology). See post 222314 for several more paragraphs about that.

 
jn1057
1245397.  Fri Aug 11, 2017 12:41 pm Reply with quote

well, also, id never have believed that a small passing comment about qi's use of one word would have lead to 404 viewings and 3 pages of discussion!

 
PDR
1245401.  Fri Aug 11, 2017 1:15 pm Reply with quote

True - I'm amazed that it's only the three pages, but then the thread is yet young...

PDR

 
crissdee
1245402.  Fri Aug 11, 2017 1:15 pm Reply with quote

Stick around! You won't believe where we can go with a discussion!

 
dstarfire
1245403.  Fri Aug 11, 2017 1:18 pm Reply with quote

jn1057 wrote:
Should this be the case with all words - their meaning changing and evolving over time - how on earth have humans ever reliably communicated with each other given that each person is likely to hold slightly different understanding of the words used?


Actually, it IS impossible to reliably (i.e. with no misunderstanding possible) communicate, in english using words alone. Most statements you'll make or hear throughout the day have multiple possible meanings. However, due to context, body language, cultural assumptions, and other clues it's usually easy to discern the intended meaning.

Want to see this in action? Just watch any political or even news commentary. You'll see people disagreeing about the meaning or impact of the exact same speech or action.

 
crissdee
1245418.  Fri Aug 11, 2017 4:42 pm Reply with quote

suze wrote:
Damnit, foiled again!


You would have got away with it if it hadn't been for those meddling Edinburgh-based scientists!!!

 
jn1057
1246113.  Sat Aug 19, 2017 1:38 pm Reply with quote

Maybe we could lighten the mood on this a bit?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Gv0H-vPoDc

37 millions views!

 
Jenny
1246168.  Sun Aug 20, 2017 10:39 am Reply with quote

Now that was funny! (Except the one line 'you write like a spastic' - didn't like that at all.)

 
jn1057
1246247.  Mon Aug 21, 2017 10:48 am Reply with quote

Yes, i agree, Jenny.

While such a phrase is not acceptable today, i beleive it is another example of how the use and meanings of words evolve over time and by geography.

 

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