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Can words hurt etymologically???

 
 
Reply Sun 9 Mar, 2008 05:53 pm
Can words hurt etymologically???

A feminist theorist, Stephanie Ross, says that words cannot hurt in this sense because no one understands the root of the words and how they were originally intended to be sexist. More likely, it is the "metaphor" the word evokes, the image it creates in our mind, that truly hurts.

Well... can the unknown origins of a word hurt us???
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Aedes
 
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Reply Sun 9 Mar, 2008 07:09 pm
@VideCorSpoon,
VideCorSpoon wrote:
Well... can the unknown origins of a word hurt us???
I'd say no, simply because (as we've seen) many words either gain or lose vulgarity and offense over time. So I agree that the origins of a word are irrelevant to a word's ability to offend -- it's the word's use and understanding that can offend.
Didymos Thomas
 
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Reply Mon 10 Mar, 2008 03:11 am
@Aedes,
If the origin of the word is unknown to either party - the one using the word, and the one the word is directed towards - then there seems little room for the origin (of which both are ignorant) to be of much influence.

However, if I call someone X, where I understand the common usage of X and the etymology of X while the other person is only aware of the common usage, the origin of X may not harm the other person, but it will harm me.
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kennethamy
 
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Reply Mon 10 Mar, 2008 07:10 am
@VideCorSpoon,
VideCorSpoon wrote:
Can words hurt etymologically???

A feminist theorist, Stephanie Ross, says that words cannot hurt in this sense because no one understands the root of the words and how they were originally intended to be sexist. More likely, it is the "metaphor" the word evokes, the image it creates in our mind, that truly hurts.

Well... can the unknown origins of a word hurt us???


But the etymology of a word need not be what a word means, and generally is not, since the meanings of words change through time.

In any case, is the claim that the word can hurt us, or is the claim that it can harm us? I ask because I can see how something can harm us without our knowing it, but it is hard to see how something can hurt us without our knowing it.
VideCorSpoon
 
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Reply Mon 10 Mar, 2008 10:39 am
@kennethamy,
So, if I were to play devil's advocate, what if I call a woman a "chick." This is a commonly used word. Heck, even some women use it to refer to themselves. But "chick" is parallel to "chick," the small defenseless bird that eventually grows up to merely produce eggs and offspring. Then, I have heard woman referred to as "birds" before in rap music. The common usage overtime does not negate the identical word "chick" to different definitions with different connotations, nor the propagation from the root of the word to mean more offensive things.
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