Atheist Dictionary Missing the Point?

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by PsychoticEpisode, Apr 20, 2010.

  1. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

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    In its original use it might also have covered those that actually DID believe in the gods but refused to abide by any of the rituals etc. i.e. they might have been judged atheist through their religious inaction rather than through belief (or lack thereof).
     
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  3. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    No, you're missing the meaning of the word jargon. Jargon is only the set of words used only within a profession, craft, hobby, etc. that are not used by outsiders, although it also includes vernacular words that have been redefined so as to be significantly different. "Holy" and "water" are both vernacular words used by everyone. They would not be included in a dictionary of any group's jargon. Well I suppose in some religious institutions "holy" has a more specific redefined meaning so that was a bad example. But we atheists use the conventional vernacular definition of the word so it certainly wouldn't appear in our dictionary.
    Everyone knows what a Sunday School is: a place where some Christians send their children to receive the religious training they don't get in government schools in the USA (and probably in some other countries as well). We don't use the term any differently than they do. It's vernacular, not jargon.
    You're so stubbornly out of touch with reality that you could be the Linguistics Moderator.
    The only definition of "proper" usage is exactly the same as "common" usage in English. Neither you nor I get to redefine words just because we're smarter than everybody else and have read up on their origins.

    As I noted earlier, do you go around chastising people for calling someone "a good companion" even though they've never shared a meal?
    Uh... In the modern United States, any person who is without an umbrella probably lost it. I'm sure something similar was true of gods in ancient Greece.
    I doubt it. "Without gods" can be interpreted in a number of ways, but I don't see how a person who believes in them can possibly be construed as lacking them!
     
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  5. PsychoticEpisode It is very dry in here today Valued Senior Member

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    I don't consider an atheist a professional nor a specialist. What I was inferring is this: If I lived in a society with no concept of God or one that didn`t believe in God then there would be no atheist jargon. We are not in this position on Earth so are terms like Sky Fairy or Bible Thumper atheist jargon?

    Out of curiosity, do linguists have an established jargon?
     
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  7. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Jargon has to be well established by consensus. How many of us spend enough time communicating privately, with other atheists, about atheism, to have developed our own standardized vocabulary? I certainly haven't, and I was raised by atheists from birth. We never talked about gods and religion at home. Our vocabulary was marked by an absence of those words, not a special atheist's jargon.

    Although we did talk about the supernatural. In fact, it's been said, with some accuracy, that the two most well-known icons of Christianity in the United States are Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. I was raised to believe in them, but I was told the truth when I was about six and began wondering how the gifts were actually delivered.

    I never heard the term "sky fairy." And while "bible thumper" is indeed used as a disparaging term for a Christian (not exclusively by atheists), the primary meaning in Dictionary.com is: "an evangelist or other person who quotes the Bible frequently, esp. as a means of exhortation or rebuke."
    Sure: grapheme, back-formation, agglutinative, allomorph, abugida, topic-description. We have lots of words for phonetics alone: phoneme, Grimm's Law, labiodental, allophone, metathesis.
     
  8. PsychoticEpisode It is very dry in here today Valued Senior Member

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    Just be careful when you're at a large gathering. If you ask the person next to you to agglutinate then first make sure you're both on the same wavelength.

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  9. Doreen Valued Senior Member

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    Sure, it was a label used by those convinced of the correctness of their beliefs and I am sure they varied in their use of the term.

    In any case, however, it was certainly meant to cover more than simply those who lacked a belief. And sure, there are controversies around this, but overall in society people who believe there is no God and people who simply lack a belief in God both call themselves atheists and are called atheists by theists.

    I can see philosophical reasons to separate these groups out, which is done sometimes by referring to strong and weak atheist positions. This seems to offend some people. Words.....I mean, they are almost as messy as we are.
     
  10. phlogistician Banned Banned

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    Ah, but I picked 'decimate' because it illustrates the point perfectly, because it specifies the number. Common usage is wrong. The majority getting something wrong, doesn't make it right.

    On this;

    Interesting comparison, because despite living in the UK, with it's reputation for rain, I have never owned an umbrella. This quote from the 'Hagakure' sums up my feelings on the matter quite well;

    "There is something to be learned from a rainstorm. When meeting with a sudden shower, you try not to get wet and run quickly along the road. By doing such things as passing under the eaves of houses, you still get wet. When you are resolved from the beginning, you will not be perplexed, though you will still get the same soaking. This understanding extends to all things."
     
  11. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    So does "quintessential." Who cares?
    That is an oxymoron.
    You simply have to get over this little eccentricity, or else emigrate to France or Germany where you'd be right. Tattoo this on the inside of your eyelids:

    IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE, THE MAJORITY IS RIGHT BY DEFINITION.

    Words change meaning over the centuries. That's how languages evolve to serve their purpose as society, culture and technology change.

    When someone calls your mother, sister, wife or girlfriend a "lady," do you disagree with them acrimoniously because she's never made bread from scratch? Hlaf-dig = "Loaf kneader."

    If you lived in America, would you sneak around truck stops at night and climb up on the gasoline trailers to spray paint IN in front of FLAMMABLE? Change the name on the sign on every highway leading into Buffalo to "Bison"?
    Spare me from zen. I keep an umbrella in my car and a fold-up in my briefcase. That's what I learned from rainstorms.

    And if a tree falls when no one's around, it still makes a sound because the air molecules are vibrating.
     
  12. phlogistician Banned Banned

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    The point was not the philosophy, but your point about umbrellas, and a simple reason why I might never have owned one, as a counter to your claim that being without one implied losing one.

    I am also without a spaceship, a dragon, a large diamond, and that aforementioned umbrella. None of that implies I ever had any item on that list, or deny any do, have, or could exist.

    Your point about majority defining the meaning of a word loses validity, when the majority of the planet allegedly believe in a god of some sorts. The majority, therefore, cannot understand the mindset of the atheist, can they? So they are in no position to go defining words that describe things they have no experience of.
     
  13. parmalee peripatetic artisan Valued Senior Member

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    pfffft. good one.

    here's a suggestion: why not simply give up now--you're not making sense.

    by your logic, atheists can say absolutely NOTHING of theists, right? as they have no experience with the matter. or non-beet farmers can say NOTHING of freakin' beet farmers for that matter...
     
  14. phlogistician Banned Banned

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    No, that's exactly not what I'm saying. But you prove that people always need to polemicize the issue.
     
  15. clayton Registered Senior Member

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    You've been pied

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  16. phlogistician Banned Banned

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    Looks like a tart.

    And you seem to be missing a few things.
     
  17. parmalee peripatetic artisan Valued Senior Member

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    ok, please explain your logic for me then:

    how exactly does that follow from your preceding premise?

    and this:

    are you referring non-atheists defining "atheism" specifically, or is this a general rule? do you also have issues with the DSM, and related texts, defining schizophrenia, etc., as the persons defining likely have no direct experience?

    although, perhaps fraggle clarified this somewhat in a prior post, but when he wrote:
    i do not believe he intended to suggest that, for instance, when the majority of the populace believed that "schizophrenia" meant something akin to a multiple personality syndrome, they were in fact correct.
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2010
  18. phlogistician Banned Banned

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    How convoluted do you want to make this discussion? Using double negatives doesn't help. Please try again.

    Stay on topic please.

    Ask him.
     
  19. parmalee peripatetic artisan Valued Senior Member

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    how is asking for an explanation convoluting matters? ok, feel free to substitute "theists" for non-atheists, and then respond to my question.



    i am on topic--how about answering my question?



    sure, i'll do that--after you answer my question.

    again, please explain your logic for me then:

    how exactly does that follow from your preceding premise?

    and this:

    are you referring to theists defining "atheism" specifically, or is this a general rule? do you also have issues with the DSM, and related texts, defining schizophrenia, etc., as the persons defining likely have no direct experience?
     
  20. phlogistician Banned Banned

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    I have no desire to veer off topic and talk about schizophrenia. If you have questions for Fraggle, ask him, not me.
     
  21. parmalee peripatetic artisan Valued Senior Member

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    we're not talking about schizophrenia--i am trying to ascertain whether the logic you applied in the statement i have cited twice is to be applied as a general rule, or whether it is specific to this context.

    is there a reason you are evading my question? why is this so difficult to answer for you?

    how does it follow that, because the majority of the world's populace believe in a god, they therefore cannot "understand the mindset of an atheist"?

    do you not see the relevance of my other question: the majority of the world's populace are not schizophrenic, can they therefore not "understand the mindset" of a schizophrenic?

    to a degree, this would be true--but we are not talking about "understand(ing) the mindset" here, we are really talking about defining the notion of atheism (or schizophrenia, in the example i provided).
     
  22. phlogistician Banned Banned

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    If you'd been following the later statements, we'd seen atheism described being 'believing god doesn't exist' which is a definite view, most often levelled as an accusation of uninformed opinion at atheists, by theists.

    This is because theists think we have to have believed in god, or reject god for some reason, and can't understand, that we simply do not believe, and perhaps never have.

    I'm an atheist, not an apostate.

    There are words for these other viewpoints, but it seems theists feel the need to convolve them into the term atheist. Given that the majority of people believe in some form of god, they really aren't qualified to understand the viewpoint of someone who has never believed, and therefore, label them, and define labels for them.

    An example is when I try and explain that theists are also partly atheist, given they do not believe in the entire pantheon, they dismiss this saying that pantheists are merely worshipping different aspects of one true god, because they cannot entertain the idea of more than one god, or their own dismissal of other gods.

    It's that mindset which disqualifies theists from defining the meaning of the word 'atheist'.
     
  23. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    24,690
    I'm not talking about the majority of the human race, just the majority of anglophones. By consensus (or in the U.K. perhaps by common law) we allow the majority of English speakers to establish the vernacular definition of words. Their belief or disbelief in gods does not invalidate that right.

    If you're classifying atheism as a branch of philosophy and asserting that words pertaining to atheism are therefore scholarly jargon, well then you're right assuming that your classification and assertion are correct. But many words have both jargon and vernacular meanings because they're used both in scholarship and in common parlance. The scholars are free to define the meanings of the words they use within the academy, but when they step out of the door they are blown down by vernacular usage. If they want to be understood by the general citizenry out there they have two choices: 1. Conform to the vernacular; 2. Mount an expensive campaign to teach the jargon to the public and convince them that they should care.

    Scientists usually take the easy way out and conform to the vernacular. Engineers often opt for educating people one at a time. I don't run into philosophers very often so I can't speak for them.

    I assure you that I don't write letters to the editor complaining about vernacular misuse of the word "atheist." We're unpopular enough.

    That is actually Definition #2 in the American Heritage Dictionary. Once again, repeat after me:

    IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE, THE MAJORITY IS CORRECT BY DEFINITION.

    Of course schizophrenia means something else in the academy of psychology. So do a lot of words. The word "ladder" means something completely different when I'm in the Go club (a simple sequence of moves that will clearly end in disaster for one player so you never play it out), than it does when I'm talking to my wife about looking on the top shelf of the closet.
    I can't find a single definition of "atheist" that supports your contention. Besides, this is not a dismissal, but a philosophical position: the multiple gods of the ancient pantheon are merely different views of a single god.

    Of course this is a rather modern position and it's hard to square with the Bible, whose God clearly says, "You shall have no other gods before me." If there are no other gods then that Commandment is meaningless and correct only in syntax.
     

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