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Maciamo
07-10-11, 08:46
One way I understand that language still has a long way to evolve is when misunderstandings occur with someone simply because words can have totally different meanings in a scholarly and everyday context. Let's take a few examples.

- Materialism : a very common word, that usually means "consumerism" for ordinary people, but that also refers to the philosophical belief that the only thing that exists is matter. I often described myself as an materialist atheist when asked about my beliefs, but 99% of the people would think that I put value in consumerist products, which I don't.

- Epicurean : the common usage has become "devoted to the pursuit of sensual pleasure, especially to the enjoyment of good food and comfort". However, true Epicureanism (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epicurian), in the philosophical sense, has the opposite meaning. It preaches to live modestly, in the indifference of wealth, pleasures and luxury. Epicureans seek happiness by attaining a state of inner tranquillity and freedom from fear, as well as absence of bodily pain. Epicurus advocated to lead a simple life, reducing one's desires, verging on asceticism. In that regard it is very close to (true) Buddhism. How likely am I to be understood by the man in the street if I say that Buddhists are in many ways similar to Epicureans ?

- Germanic : may refer to 1) ancient Germanic tribes, 2) people of dominant Germanic descent (Scandinavians, Dutch, North Germans), 3) all the people speaking a Germanic language (including people who are not of dominant Germanic descent like the Austrians, Swiss, Scots, Welsh or Irish), or 4) modern German people. I personally tend to avoid the 4th usage at all costs as it is confusing (if you mean German just say German).


There are many more examples, but that's all I have time for now.

Gavroche
07-10-11, 12:24
So, why did you write this:

""or "Anglo-Saxon" as the French stupidly insist on saying, although the Anglo-Saxon where an ancient tribe from North Germany/Netherlands, not any modern group of humans ; that is a term that annoys me every time I hear it""

The term "Anglo-saxon" can't have 2 different meanings?

Maciamo
07-10-11, 13:10
So, why did you write this:

""or "Anglo-Saxon" as the French stupidly insist on saying, although the Anglo-Saxon where an ancient tribe from North Germany/Netherlands, not any modern group of humans ; that is a term that annoys me every time I hear it""

The term "Anglo-saxon" can't have 2 different meanings?

Not in English.