[percy-l] gay marriage

Parlin, Steven PARLINS at culver.org
Tue Aug 12 17:51:07 EDT 2003

Thanks for the McWhorter reference. I teach a class on language, Language
Play, and one of the units is on language change and history. This will be a
good read, I think. 
"penicumanal"? ... a hoot. 

-----Original Message-----
From: Mike Frentz [mailto:mfrentz at bbn.com]
Sent: Tuesday, August 12, 2003 3:22 PM
To: Percy-L: Literary and Philosophical Discussion
Subject: Re: [percy-l] gay marriage

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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