Mar 30, 2021

(Corrupted) Words of the Day

I suppose we should first define what we mean by "corrupt." This is what I intend when I say these words are "corrupted:" debased or rendered impure by alterations or innovations (from My selection of these (corrupted) words of the day is based on the change of their meaning from something originally intended by their definitions to something now used as a slur. I'll be working my way backwards in time based on how recently these words were corrupted. Let's begin.

nationalism (n.)

1844, "devotion to one's country, national spirit or aspirations, desire for national unity, independence, or prosperity;" 

"Nationalism" has gone from a positive good (willing the good of one's fellow countrymen in a free and prosperous country) to something even conservatives use in a derogatory way (Jonah Goldberg). It used be okay to be a fan of America back when America was the land of opportunity and not "systemically" hateful and hated, whatever that means. But, now, to be an American nationalist is to be inordinately and unjustifiably proud of one's homeland, at best. At worst, and now that "whiteness" is a thing (and totally not racist -- /snark), "white nationalism" is implied. Never mind that Donald Trump's policies did more for black and Latino employment and wage increases than has been seen in my lifetime. He's such a terrible racist (meaning the opposite). 

discriminate (v.)

1620s, "distinguish from something else or from each other, observe or mark the differences between," from Latin discriminatus, past participle of discriminare "to divide, separate," from discrimen (genitive discriminis) "interval, distinction, difference," derived from discernere "to separate, set apart, divide, distribute; distinguish, perceive," from dis- "off, away" (see dis-) + cernere "distinguish, separate, sift (from PIE root *krei "to sieve," thus "discriminate, distinguish").   

Back in the day, when someone was described as "a discriminating man," it was considered a compliment. It meant he showed good prudential judgment. Now we're not even supposed to notice differences as fundamental as those between men and women. Unless it's a trans-woman and then she/he/they is totally different from a man! And if you deny it, you're a bigot. That's some fancy lexicographical footwork. Try to keep up.

cult (n.)

1610s, "worship, homage" (a sense now obsolete); 1670s, "a particular form or system of worship;" from French culte (17c.), from Latin cultus "care, labor; cultivation, culture; worship, reverence," originally "tended, cultivated," past participle of colere "to till" (see colony). 

The word was rare after 17c. but it was revived mid-19c (sometimes in French form culte) with reference to ancient or primitive systems of religious belief and worship, especially the rites and ceremonies employed in such worship. Extended meaning "devoted attention to a particular person or thing" is from 1829.\  

As Catholics, it's not unheard of that we're accused of belonging to a cult. To which I say, "Indeed! I belong to the cult of Jesus Christ and his one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church!"  Which puts a whole different spin on the second paragraph describing a cult as an "ancient or primitive system of religious belief and worship." Ah-yup! Catholics have an ancient system of religious belief and worship, although I doubt most honest critics would call Catholicism "primitive" -- read Augustine and Aquinas through John Paul II and Benedict XVI for non-primitive Christian thinking and belief. In fact, Catholicism goes right back to Jesus Christ and his apostles, thank you very much. But, even some Catholics are susceptible to the misuse of the word "cult" and become defensive about it. They shouldn't. It's similar to the message of the cross being a sign of foolishness for some. Being a member of the cult of Jesus Christ and the church he founded is no shame. It's just the opposite. 

That's all for today. I encourage everyone to start using words correctly according to their intended meaning and take back the language from the Left.


The Western Chauvinist said...


Flicker said...

What a great article. And thanks for the link to They say thought itself is impossible without words. I don’t know if it’s true, but discriminating one thing from another seems to me impossible without words. Speaking of discrimination, I remember being outside a pub with a sign on the door saying No Harley Hats, No Harley Leathers, No Harley Anything. And someone said, But that’s discrimination. To which the hostess said, That’s right. We are discriminating in our food, our drinks, and our clientele.

The Western Chauvinist said...

I love it! Thanks for the story, Flicker. And thanks for reading and commenting.

Cathy said...

Oh yes. Regarding the Veritatis community in that last link. Jen . . Deb and I were talking lately. Growing up in small town Ohio. Back then - it was! This quote from that article " . . . thick communities where Christians can live, worship, and educate their children . ." How times have changed . .. and I totally agree . . . not for the better.

Samuel Block said...

Very interesting!

The Western Chauvinist said...

You sweet thing, Samuel! So happy to have you visit. Stop by anytime.

Samuel Block said...

I don’t know how sweet I am, but I’ll definitely be dropping in.