violence = 'personal or social domination of any kind'

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Sun Nov 14 12:30:27 UTC 2010

Points well taken.  From a lexicographical standpoint, however, the source
of interest is that some of the esoteric vocabulary, shorn of its nuance and
subtlety (real or imagined) is eventually popularized into frequent usage.
(Freudian "complex" and Jungian "archetype" are good
exx.) If what speakers appear to "mean" is a criterion, I think it would be
a mistake to define such terms solely in the strictest sense.

Frequency of usage and weight of evidence are all that determines what goes
into a desk dictionary; the OED casts a wider net.

I might have added "exploitation" to my rough-and-ready def. of "violence."


On Sat, Nov 13, 2010 at 10:40 PM, Victor Steinbok <aardvark66 at>wrote:

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> 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'm in no way criticizing your suggestion, Jon. My concern with PM usage
> (and not just PM, but going back to de Saussure, phenomenology, if not
> further) is that much of the vocabulary derived from Bourdieu,
> Merleau-Ponty, Derrida, Foucault, Metz, Lacan, etc.--as well as from
> Heidegger, Habermas, Wittgenstein and others with similar roots--falls
> into two categories, sometimes generated by the translators and
> commentators and sometimes by the authors themselves. One includes the
> calques from the original French and German, the other is imperfect
> analogues (which is why many terms are left /in/ French and German
> original forms). Either way, they fall into the "untranslatable"
> category of the type recently mentioned on Language Log (by Geoff
> Pullum, I believe). To be clear, they are not literally untranslatable,
> but an English translation may require something other than the compact
> form of the original. But there is some obvious interplay between the
> use of terminology that perhaps obscures the meaning or, at the very
> least, makes it less transparent, and the philosophy that the authors
> purport to espouse.
> The case of "violence" is no exception and falls into the first
> category. The second category has plenty of examples, although, at the
> moment, all that pops into my head is Heimat, which has little to do
> with PM (except where it intersects with Heimatfilme and the New German
> Cinema). (Of course, schadenfreude is another example of the second
> category, but that has even less to do with PM.) [PS: OK, also consider
> "auteur"]
> Nor do I propose excluding all jargon from standard dictionaries.
> Something I've been meaning to suggest that appears to be missing from
> the OED (but not from Wiki) is "underwater" (or "under water") in the
> sense of "negative equity". A recent headline, for example, attracted my
> attention because it read, "One in Three Chicago Area Homes Under
> Water". I would certainly suggest this for inclusion.
> OED is not alone in missing this--of all the dictionaries under OneLook,
> only three had the respective definition: Wiktionary, Wordnik and
> under Collins English Dictionary, Complete and Unabridged
> 10th ed. (2009). The former two defined as a general finance term, while
> the latter was more narrow:
> > (of a stock option or other asset) having a market value below its
> > purchase value
> [Actually, I just noticed that Farlex's The Free Dictionary has an
> identical definition, but does not reference it. InvestorWords and
> Investopedia also have entries, but these are not really dictionaries.]
> I've seen the term applied both to stock options and, obviously,
> mortgages (price of home lower than outstanding debt, as in the Chicago
> case). A more traditional, if narrow, interpretation of "underwater" is
> "insolvent".
>     VS-)
> On 11/13/2010 1:46 PM, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
> > 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.
> >
> > JL
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