[percy-l] gay marriage

Mike Frentz mfrentz at bbn.com
Tue Aug 12 17:21:59 EDT 2003

I'm reading an interesting book now on the evolution of language (actually, 
the author is very particular to call it "transformation" of language, 
breaking the biological parallel, because evolution implies advancement 
rather than just change):  McWhorter, "The Power of Babel".  It's 
interesting how much of language had sacred roots before its transformation 
to present day secular usage.  For instance, goodbye is a basically a 
phonetic decay from "God, be with you".  He discusses how both phonetics 
and semantics are prone to change over time, sometimes rather dramatically.

Given the concurrent existence of the real (i.e. sacred) and primal thing, 
called "marriage", not to mention the parallel (grossly diluted in recent 
decades, but still somewhat solemn) secularized version, a new word would 
definitely seem to be in order.  Each of the original meanings does still 
at least serve the higher purpose of bringing about children (peripherally 
at least, if not primarily anymore, in common usage).

A "penicumanal pact" comes to mind as being accurate.  Any stronger, or 
more solemn word would seem silly (in present day usage of the word, i.e. 
through semantic degradation, silly devolved from originally meaning "holy" 
to --> blameless -->  innocent  --> childish  -->  foolish ).


At 03:02 PM 8/12/2003 -0400, you wrote:

>In my dictionary, "marriage" in the example of minds meeting is a seperate 
>definition of the more common defintion, which does in fact necessitate 
>there being a man and a woman, and not two people of the same sex.
>Im not sure how much efffect this has on the debate on whether gay 
>marriage should be legalized. I do feel that opponents to gay marriages 
>are using the defintion of "marriage" in defense of their view, but thats 
>not set in stone. If something that looks like gay people being married 
>becomes legal, then the defintion of marriage would have to be altered, or 
>a new word would have to be invented. Any ideas on what that word might 
>look like?
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