Showing posts with label Semantics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Semantics. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A 'Little' Theory About Semantics

By: T.R. Slyder,

Semantics are a big deal in our society.

For instance: I'm convinced that semantics are the only hangup with the passing of gay marriage legislation. Why? Because here is every gay marriage argument ever.

ProPerson: Gay Marriage should be legal.
ConPerson: No. Marriage is between a man and a woman, the bible says so.

If instead of "marriage" they called themselves, "Contractual Homies", the Con argument would fall apart. The bible never says anything about Contractual Homies. It doesn't harm the sanctity of "marriage" because being Contractual Homies isn't the same as marriage *wink*. Problem solved.

The reason I mention that is because a group of little people is asking the FCC to ban the word, "midget" from the airwaves. I'm ok with that, if the majority of little people are offended by that, then that word should be banned. It's easy enough to call them 'little people' instead. No skin off my nose.

But I was trying to figure out why that word is offensive. It doesn't have any inherent connotation that 'little people' couldn't later adopt. The words 'moron', 'idiot', and 'imbecile' originated as clinical words used for different classifications of mental retardation- they eventually morphed into pejoratives. I'm afraid that little people are likely to always be considered an 'outgroup' and be regarded as oddballs, comedic or something slightly less than human.

That's where I think semantics can help. I think part of what makes the literal word "midget" pejorative is the ending. What other words end in -et, (or at least that sound)?

Nugget, cutlet, marionette, pipette, kitchenette, etc. I'm sure I'm forgetting plenty.

The point is they're all dimuntives- a little cut, little pipe, little kitchen, (nugget is different, and I have no idea what "Marion" is in French, but you get the point). The word "midget" just sounds like it denotes something little.

I think we should think of a new word to replace "midget" but something menacing- like the names of groups of bad guys/things in movies or like a dinosaur- something with a K sounds or two, or a V sound and ending in -or preferably. Like Klovaktors or Rokalktors or something. That's just a menacing sounding name. If you heard that every Wednesday from 9-midnight a bar had Rokalktor Tossing, at first you'd think, "Dayyyum! You'd have to be a bad mother fucking to throw a Rokalktor!!" then you'd realize that it means little person, and you'd think, "Eh, I guess most people could throw one. But man, that sounds difficult."

Giving little people a bad ass nickname would be like semantic reparations. We can do this.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Michael Phelps and "Greatest Olympic Athlete" Semantics

By T.R. Slyder,

I can assure you that I am as excited as anyone else to see Michael Phelps win every race he is in. I hope he sets the record for most gold medals by any Olympian ever, and I hope he adds to that total in London. But let's not get caught up in saying that he is the "Best Olympian" ever as a result of his medals tally. Upon winning his 10th gold medal he will be the most decorated Olympian in history, but not necessarily the best.

His sport offers more medals than any other sport. There are four different strokes, varied distances, relays at varied distances, and medleys- both individual and relay at varied distances. While Phelps could finish this Olympics perfectly, that does not prove that he is the best athlete in the history of the games.

If a US Softball player hits a home run in every at-bat for 3 straight Olympics she could finish with, at most, three gold medals over a 12 year span, a total that Phelps can achieve in two days. Athletic talent and medal quantity are not synonymous. Phelps will be the most decorated Olympic athlete, but that does not make him the best.

To say what Phelps did is more important than what Jesse Owens did in Berlin is offensive to all Americans.