Re: Spouse discussion

Thomas W. Rimkus (trimkus@COMP.UARK.EDU)
Tue, 19 Dec 1995 18:09:10 -0600

Doesnt the temporal relationship of changing terminology to political
motivation strike a chord? In several of the recent threads on the "true"
meaning of certain politically laden terms, there seems to be a simple
truth which is either ignored for the sake of winning a point or simply
lost in the intellectualization of the issue. It appears that recent change
from traditional meaning comes in response to a need to change modes of
thought to accomodate non-traditional behavior or a new "consciousness". This
simple fact is quite important in understanding the nature of acceptance
of the potential change by the majority of users.

Those who support the changing terminology seem to think that by
a simple manipulation of the meanining of a phrase, previously
unacceptable behavior will be either made acceptable (in the case of
"spouse" as it is applied to non-traditional coupling) or shown to be the
evil that it is (in the case of "gender" where the goal is to
egalitarianize). In either case, tell it like it is. Conscious
political goals are being thrust on a language by a minority of the
users of the language in an attempt to effect a change on the culture. This
seems to be quite different from the normal changes a language goes thru as the
majority of users adopt changes to reflect a changing culture.

By the way, this in no way disparages the role of language in the study of
culture as some have recently attempted to obfuscate. It does, in fact, honor
"language" as one of the most important fields in anthropology. It is
simply an observation on the nature of the relationship of politically
motivated minorities in the exploitation of language and on the potential
backlash from the majority.

PS: It is encouraging to note that a fairly long thread on language usage
has been carried without the need for name-calling or condescension.

Seasons wishes to you all

Tom Rimkus
(Sorry about that!)

| Tom Rimkus | phone/fax : 501-559-2863 |
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