The Word "Infidel"

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by Michael, Nov 3, 2010.

  1. Michael 歌舞伎 Valued Senior Member

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    Could the word 'Infidel' be an example of thought-terminating cliché?

    From WIKI

    The language of the totalist environment is characterized by the thought-terminating cliché. The most far-reaching and complex of human problems are compressed into brief, highly reductive, definitive-sounding phrases, easily memorized and easily expressed. These become the start and finish of any ideological analysis.

    - Lifton, Robert J. (1989)


    OR, better yet lady's and gentleman, we may be looking at an excellent example of Newspeak! A thought-terminating cliché that has slowly evolved into a single word (the penultimate goal of all Newspeak enthusiasts - triumph being Newspeak without any cognitive thought at all). In a few hundred more years 'Infidel' will probably have been replaced by Unbeliever. Oh, gee, wouldn't the "Islamic world" (whatever that is) be ever so doubleplusgood with such a fine word as Unbeliever! Oh wait *snap!*







    Lastly, that's one thing Sciforums does do in the religious forum, at least I think, is break thought-terminating clichés and Newspeak. And, populations under the cultural imprinting of Islamic Dictatorships do display some Orwellian Newspeak behaviors, being terrified to "Think", I mean really question, the invisible Big Brother Allah's reality.

    Impressive!

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    Last edited: Nov 3, 2010
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  3. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    Is "atheist" a thought terminating cliche as well? It is an exception to the i before e except after c rule. That could be mind numbing.
     
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  5. Michael 歌舞伎 Valued Senior Member

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    meiosis
    weight
    weird
    seismology

    :shrug:





    While I'm no linguist, I believe in a God fearing country run by Big Brother like Oceania (or Iran by the Ayatollah) Newspeak dictates that negatives are removed so that Citizens no longer "think" in those paradigms.

    There's no Good and Bad, only Good and Ungood.

    Goodthink suggests "atheist" oldspeak is Ungood, doubleplusgood rather is unbeliever, something a believer like you can bellyfeel (actually you already do). Unworry SAM, one day if you work hard at it your Friday ritual duckspeak will BE newspeak - for you anyway.
     
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  7. GeoffP Caput gerat lupinum Valued Senior Member

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    Doubleplusunbeliever.
     
  8. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    I think it is excellent that the English language lends itself to shades of meaning. I think it is a pity that most people do not avail of this flexibility and combine articulation with information.

    Infidel (literally "one without faith") is a chiefly archaic English noun, meaning one who doubts or rejects the central tenets of a religion other than one's own or has no religious beliefs...The usage of the term for non-Christian monotheists distinguishes the term from heathen or pagan. The origins of the word Infidel date to the late 15th century, deriving from the French "infidèle" or Latin "infidelis", from in- ‘not’ + fidelis ‘faithful’ (from fides ‘faith,’ related to fidere ‘to trust’). The word originally denoted a person of a religion other than one's own, specifically a Christian to a Muslim, a Muslim to a Christian, or a Gentile to a Jew.[3] Later meanings in the 15th century include "unbelieving", "a non-Christian" and "one who does not believe in religion"


    It seems to me that infidel has altered from a specific term to a generic one. No doubt, familiarity lends itself to ambiguation. Still, its more descriptive than just atheist or heathen.
     
  9. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Maybe I'm not paying attention, but I never see the word "infidel" used except when attributed to Muslim speakers or writers. It's either in fictional dialog spoken by Muslim characters and translated into English for the reader, or fictional dialog spoken by Muslim characters in English, presented as the English equivalent of a word in their native language. I've certainly never heard a real Muslim use the word in English.

    What word would that be in Arabic, Urdu, Farsi, Turkish, Albanian, etc? Is this even a realistic convention; do Muslims ever talk that way?

    I don't think I've ever heard a Christian or a Jew call anyone an "infidel," except in jest, having picked it up from all those B-movies and comic strips with their stereotyped Muslims.

    Jews call everyone else Goyim, a Hebrew word meaning literally "national" but understood to mean someone from any other nation except Israel. And it's not a derogatory word. It's sort of the opposite of Gook, which also means literally "national" in Korean, but is understood to mean a Korean national.

    The Christians I know are understandably not the most rigorous members of their faiths and they don't seem to want to use a word that means "anybody but Christians." Perhaps the fundies have one and perhaps it is indeed "infidel." For some odd reason I don't really know any of those people very well.
     
  10. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    I think you would find a parallel to the usage in Muslims. It is generally used to contrast with the term believer [momin]. As in, unlike the momineen, the kaffir do not eat halal meat. Something like that.

    I don't think there is a specific word to distinguish other religions or adherents thereof. The word ahl al kitab is used for other monotheists, as people of the same ahl or family. The word kaffir, which means literally, one who covers and is linguistically linked to the word kafara [to hide, to cover] is the only word which I know of that designates an unbeliever. While it is used among Muslims specifically to designate those who do not follow Islam, like infidel it has become generic enough to be used among Muslims even for each other, it has also been variously used by non-Muslims as a racial slur [example in South Africa] and can also ironically be used self deprecatingly in romantic poetry or even to address a lover [e.g. Tumhari Wo Kafir Nigaahen which can be loosely translated as Those Kafir Eyes of Yours]. Its in fact a much used and abused term and in general has no negative connotation although of course, it can always obtain one. However, we hear it too often in song and poetry to consider it offensive. Most of us don't give these words a second thought [like jihad, for instance] until we talk to westerners.

    example of kafir in song: Pasand aa gayi ek kafir haseena [ I adore a kafir beauty]
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eszBY90ItPE

    There are always "other" words - in Jews it is more common to refer to non-Jews as goy and sometimes, women as shiksa. Infidel is not used much, I agree, heathen or pagan is more common. In Hindus, the corresponding term for unbeliever is nastik [antonym:aastik] but is used only for people who do not believe in any god, I don't think there is a word for someone who is not a Hindu. Although originally, the word nastik stood for those who did not believe in the Vedas. Like kafir , nastik is often translated as atheist, and has come to represent that meaning.
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2010
  11. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    It's a derogatory word.

    It's not, for example, used by courteous Jews in the presence of goyim.

    "Infidel" often shows up in translations of actual speech or writing by Muslims - it's obviously not the word in Arabic or Farsi or whatever, but it is the word chosen by fluent speakers of those languages from their English vocabulary when translating. The fact that courteous English speaking Muslims don't use it in front of non-Muslims might mean they don't use it at all, but in that case one wonders where the translation comes from.

    Common or casual use within an ingroup is not solid evidence of inoffensiveness: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kafir
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2010
  12. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    I know courteous Jews who use the word in conversation, so I think it depends on what the other person will think will offend.


    Thats probably less to do with courtesy and more to do with usage. Most Muslims are not familiar with the word, they don't use the word infidel so its less likely that they will use it. I've never used it personally. However, I have used the term kafir since I am quite familiar with it.

    Depends on the company you keep, different people are offended by different things. In Indian society there are people who would be offended at being called kafir but most of them would probably be Muslims.
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2010
  13. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    If somebody thinks a term will offend, I think it's likely the term is recognized as offensive - derogatory, if the large volume of literature written by Jewish people in English is a fair indication.

    There are exceptions, but that's the way to bet - especially with a word unlikely to be all that familiar, even, to a random audience in my neighborhood.

    So where does the translation come from? If that is not the normal or indicated word in English, why do translators use it?
     
  14. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    Thats true for many other things, cross culturally.
    Its probably the closest in meaning. Kafir does not mean atheist as much as it means "does not believe in Islam". infidel in its original meaning, ie rejecting the tenets of a faith, is probably closer than heathen or pagan. Its about recognising that some people reject the beliefs of Islam, rather than about people not believing in God. Also historically, its been applied to Muslims by Christians. So in the vocabulary its a familiar term for someone of a different faith or no faith who rejects some other faith.

    For example, I never heard the term theist before I came to sciforums. Its a term used primarily by atheists.
     
  15. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Dictionary.com says that under the Ottoman regime, the word was narrowed to just mean Christians. Perhaps they didn't have a derogatory word for Jews, since it's widely asserted that the Jews were treated better by the Ottomans than by any host population in history, until they came to America.
    It is now the N-word in South Africa and its use is illegal.
    The polite word for goy is "Gentile," but that's not one you hear very often any more. Americans have gotten so accustomed to Jewish comedians that Yiddish slang has spread throughout our language and goy doesn't raise an eyebrow. Schtick, farkakhte, schtup, nebbisch, everyone uses those words--at least in the big cities. Schikse, however is not one you hear much anymore from either Jews or goyim, except in comedy. "We're the Video Vixens/We're Jewish girls, and we're schiksens," line from a musical skit on Saturday Night Live starring Gilda Radner (R.I.P.).
    In English, an increasingly analytic language, we can say non-just about anything. We can and do say "non-Hindu," don't the Indic languages allow the synthesis of a word like that?
    It was invented in the 1600s, when atheists were not especially prominent in the philosophy of the anglophone countries. Today it's been narrowed to mean people who believe in only one god, as opposed to those who believe in an unspecific number of gods, for whom the word "deist" is now reserved.

    Don't ask me why! The perfectly respectable and instantly understandable words "monotheist" and "polytheist" are much more precise and descriptive. Personally I have always used "theist" to mean anyone who believes in supernatural creatures with the ability to capriciously perturb the functioning of the natural universe, whether just one or a whole pantheon of them. Since I find the difference between the rich model of the human spirit provided by polytheism and the pathetic one-dimensional model offered in its place by monotheism to be extremely important in human psychology and in understanding the effect of those two belief systems on their communities of believers, I more often than not specifically say "monotheist" or "polytheist."

    Today, at least in the "modern" nations, polytheists tend not to take their religions literally, and regard the stories as inspiring metaphors. Whereas monotheists seem to lack the education--or perhaps the basic cognitive skill--to understand the concept of metaphor, and so are more likely to regard their mythology as literal truth. AFAIC, that's a really good reason not to lump them together in a single category.

    You can talk to the former, the latter are hopeless.
     
  16. Michael 歌舞伎 Valued Senior Member

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    Doubleplusungood.
    *quack*
     
  17. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    I live in a so called polytheistic society and Indians are far far more religious than any Saudi or American I ever met. I think you're confusing the westernised Indians you know and the tolerance of the multicultural societies we live in, with reduced commitment to religion. There is a reason that even after 800 years of Persian rule and 200 years of British rule, the vast majority of Indians continue to follow their own religion.
     
  18. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    The word "deist" is not used by anyone except historians or scholars, in the same sort of contexts the word "gnostic" is used.

    An theist is someone who believes in a god or pantheon (note) of them. A theistic religion is one with at least one deity, named and worshiped. That's what the word means to the people who normally use it and hear it, and the meaning makes perfect sense.
    Except for the non-Westernized Saudis and Americans, and the Westernized Indians, naturally.
     
  19. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    I think westernised Saudis are comparable to westernised Indians and typical Americans. Most Indians are deeply religious in a way that Saudis and Americans are not. Its not about the demonstration of faith or even the debate over religion. Its more about the internalisation of religious values in a way that allows a lot of external influence to be enveloped within the faith rather than allow the influences to cause a loss of faith. This is why Hinduism as a philosophy is able to embrace both atheism and agnosticism as elements of faith.

    But, this is the linguistics board

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  20. quadraphonics Bloodthirsty Barbarian Valued Senior Member

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    FYI, "the N-word" is teetering on the verge of being considered as offensive as "nigger." As has been pointed out by Louis C.K., it is nothing other than a way for white people to say "nigger" without taking responsibility for such:

    http://ccinsider.comedycentral.com/2008/09/12/louis-ck-hates-the-n-word/

    By all means, though, use it where appropriate. Which would be the same situations where terms like "the F-word" are appropriate: when addressing an adult with small children nearby. To use any such "masked" vulgar term when addressing adults, on the other hand, is totally inappropriate and weasely. We all know immediately that you're saying "nigger," so there's no point in tap-dancing around the issue. If you're worried about offending by using it, then don't use it at all.
     
  21. Chipz Banned Banned

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    The word infidele is Italian, though it's arguably a direct extraction from the Latin lexicon and therefore its use likely does not originate in Italy.

    It's improperly used as a noun - infidele is the adjective variation of infi'do which approximates as an unfaithful or treacherous thing.
     
  22. Michael 歌舞伎 Valued Senior Member

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    Interesting etymology.

    That aside, do you think that the word 'Infidel', with a meaning as in English, is an example of thought-terminating cliché?


    I wonder, if we could measure the total number of thought-terminating clichés in monotheistic societies versus polytheistic - which are more stuffed full?
     
  23. Michael 歌舞伎 Valued Senior Member

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    An interesting study would be a measure of thought-terminating clichés in Communist China versus Capitalistic America (actually I'd like to see this across the globe). Maybe the results would surprise many .... .... .... wait for it... ... ... Americans?!? OK, somewhat lame, but, true nonetheless

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    I'd like to see the kinds as well.


    For example. In ChinAmerica (ABC doco) there were a number of gay Chinese dancing at a gay club interviewed by Dan Rather's was it? Anyway, he asks one of the Chinese if his family knows and the Chinese guy says, yes, and it wasn't THAT big of a deal, what WAS a big deal was if he was going to have children. Thus, it seemed, conservative Chinese were able to deal with a homosexual son pretty readily. China seems (from that example) not to be so hung up on people being gay. Whereas in the USA, well, it's still a bit of taboo and we've had a lot longer of time to deal with open homosexuality. So? This makes me wonder. Perhaps WE in the USA have more thought-terminating clichés related to homosexuality relative to Asians. Like this one: It's a Sin. Done. Nothing to think about. God says it's a Sin, it's a SIN. Cognitive function will now cease.

    Get my meaning?

    Perhaps Chinese have more thought-terminating clichés in regards to questioning authority?




    I expect an authorship

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