violence = 'personal or social domination of any kind'

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Sat Nov 13 20:46:57 UTC 2010

Victor, you may be right. But the jargon of the "postmodernist" (a broad
category, BTW) is endemic to the liberal arts, or was until very recently
after a run of about thirty years.

Like you I doubt that much of it should go into a desk dictionary, but my
eye is always on OED, which supposedly includes everything of any
interest. I circulated among grad students who lived and breathed this
stuff. To pass over postmodern usages in silence would be akin to doing the
same for Freud and Jung. (Who at least didn't try to redefine common words
as their opposites, and who, unlike the PMs, didn't seem to be angry or
obstructionist all the time.)

And to clarify generally, once again, I don't insist that the exx. I post
are necessarily significant, merely that they have that potential. Even if
"litigate," for example, was little more than a slip of the tongue, it shows
the strength of certain associations that the word has attracted: tedium,
length, pointlessness, arbitrariness. A strange array, when you stop to
think about it. When enough people make similar slips, an
additional definition emerges, like it or not.


On Sat, Nov 13, 2010 at 2:17 PM, Victor Steinbok <aardvark66 at>wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Victor Steinbok <aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: violence = 'personal or social domination of any kind'
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> I am not sure how seriously you may want to consider to update language
> dictionaries based on post-modernist usage. Such basic words as "power",
> "gift", "other" will need updates then as well. Perhaps it's best to
> leave these to jargon dictionaries--philosophy, critical theory,
> sociology, anthropology, cognitive science.
>     VS-)
> On 11/13/2010 9:19 AM, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
> > Not in OED but common among postmodern sociologists:
> >
> > 1990 Pierre Bourdieu _The Logic of Practice_  (R. Nice, trans.)
> [Stanford:
> > Stanford U. P.] 127: [O]vert violence, that of the usurer or the ruthless
> > master, is collectively disapproved of and is liable to provoke either a
> > violent riposte or the flight of the victim.
> >
> > The French text was written in 1980.
> > JL
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