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Cynosure

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Re: CYNOSURE

Postby Slava » Thu Aug 16, 2012 5:19 pm

Jeff hook wrote:
Etymologies are very interesting but they do NOT really give the word its definition.


Does anyone else think they SHOULD?!
Not I. While I can wax pedantic over the misuse and abuse of words such as penultimate, there are just too many out there to attempt to return to a literal usage based on the PIE root, or Sanskrit, or any other ancient tongue.
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Re: CYNOSURE

Postby Audiendus » Thu Aug 16, 2012 6:34 pm

Let's look at just the beginning of Jeff hook's first post in this thread:

Jeff hook wrote:I agree with Dr. Beard that this is a beautiful word. I've never used it although I've always been aware of it and I've always thought it was erudite.

"Aware" formerly meant "wary" or "cautious", and "erudite" meant something like "brought out of the rough" (according to the Online Etymology Dictionary). So, if we are to go by etymology, the above ought to mean: "I've always been wary of it and I've always thought it was raised [or raised us?] from a state of roughness". (Are ordinary words rough?) :!:
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Re: CYNOSURE

Postby Jeff hook » Thu Aug 16, 2012 11:29 pm

Hmmm...

Online Etymology Dictionary? OK, but why haven't you included the full texts of the brief entries which you cited? Would that be objectionable pedantry, or does citing a source require you to "deliver the goods"?

Aware:

aware (adj.)
late O.E. gewær, from P.Gmc. *ga-waraz (cf. O.S. giwar, M.Du. gheware, O.H.G. giwar, Ger. gewahr), from *ga- intensive prefix + wær "wary, cautious" (see wary).


I don't claim to have any competence in this field but the combination of an intensive prefix with a root word which may or may not have connoted "wary, cautious" seems to suggest the new word didn't exactly mean "wary" or "cautious," but you knew that, didn't you?

I "don't know nuttin" about Proto Germanic, or Sanskrit, or even Ancient (or Modern!) Greek but I think you may be well aware of a substantive difference in category here. We don't want to engage in sophistry, do we?

You've used a reductio ad absurdum to suggest that my "disquiet" about the inconsistency between Thomas Carlyle's beautiful use of this English word and the word's Greek origin is unreasonable, but aren't you comparing apples and oranges? Is the relationship of "aware" to its possible Proto-Germanic antecedents comparable to the relationship of "cynosure" to what seems to be a well-documented Greek word?

You've decided to point out the relationships of two words (which seem to be core, routine portions of our workaday vocabulary) to their distant, uncertain, poorly-attested antecedents. Can you refer to any contemporaneous dictionaries of Proto-Germanic? Its speakers weren't even literate, but we seem to have good documentation of the use of the Greek compound word for "dog tail" in the case of cynosure, and, to nail down my point even more firmly, we know WHY the Greek word was used! The curving handle of the Little Dipper was thought to LOOK like a dog's tail! I'm not pointing out some conjectured, poorly-attested, possible meaning; I'm simply stressing that the CLEAR intention in this case was to compare a portion of a constellation to THE TAIL OF A DOG!

Just for the record, and for the benefit of other readers of this thread, your other Online Etymology Dictionary citation was of:

Erudite:

Here's your source's full text. Other readers may be interested to compare your report of this entry with the actual text:

erudite
early 15c., from L. eruditus, pp. of erudire "to educate, teach, instruct, polish," lit. "to bring out of the rough," from ex- "out" (see ex-) + rudis "unskilled, rough, unlearned" (see rude).


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Re: CYNOSURE

Postby sardith » Wed Dec 26, 2012 5:07 pm

I know that I am getting in here very late, but I just want to comment on one of the last things that Perry posted about the word: atonement.
I was always taught that to help understand this word, you deconstruct like this: at-one-ment

It does not mean a covering, but the ability for a relationship, because where there was before a wall of separation between two, there is no longer anything that separates.

That is the way I have always understood it.

Merry Christmas everyone,
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Re: CYNOSURE

Postby Perry Lassiter » Wed Dec 26, 2012 5:34 pm

Sardith, you are correct, and even the scholars so say. However, there is a long and complicated linguistic and theological development here, and whole books have been written on atonement, disagreing, modifying, and rebelling with one another. The at-one-ment arose homiletically to mean we become at one with God in relationship.

(With apology to MTC in light of his recent post! ;-)
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Re: CYNOSURE

Postby Perry Lassiter » Wed Dec 26, 2012 5:36 pm

Oh, I forgot. In all the discussion about the dog's tail, surely those who saw the bears considered it a bear's tail. As a Baylor grad, I'd much prefer that anyway.
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Re: CYNOSURE

Postby Slava » Wed Dec 26, 2012 5:55 pm

Here is a link to the Good Doctor's take on atonement.
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Re: CYNOSURE

Postby Philip Hudson » Wed Dec 26, 2012 6:52 pm

Sardith: The word atonement has been discussed as a Good Word as Slava has indicated, It has been mentioned in several other discussions on Alpha Agora. Perry’s response was good. The word is surely of English manufacture and was originally meant to be the atonement of the blood of Christ covering mankind and making us able to stand in the presence of God the Father. Later it took on a general definition of repairing a rift between any two parties with a propitiation or appeasement by the offending party. While it may be good for Christians to look at the first definition and go no farther, one should be careful to notice the added meanings to words by their use in translating foreign words into English.

Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement, the highest Jewish holy day. In this setting atonement means to “make amends” for sins against God. It is surely an excellent example from which we can all benefit. Under the sacrificial system, animal blood was sprinkled on the altar and in the Temple, for “without blood there is no forgiveness of sin”. Since blood sacrifices are no longer practiced in modern religions, specifically Jewish and Christian, the meaning here has been rightly transferred to the confession of sin and the asking for mercy. In any case, God is the one who verifies the atonement.

In secular activity, atonement is seen as paying or giving something to the wronged or offended party to settle a dispute.

My Christian view of the atonement goes back to the ancient rites of blood sacrifice and the idea that without blood there is no forgiveness. The Christian belief is that blood sacrifice is the only way for forgiveness of sin. However, the blood of animals was a temporary and even symbolic way of achieving forgiveness. And it had to be done repeatedly. If one sinned, one made a blood sacrifice and was forgiven for that one set of sins. Future sins were not considered. The unique aspect of the Christian faith is that this actual physical blood sacrifice was finally, once for all, consummated in the crucifixion of Jesus on the Cross. This is the Easter event and not the Christmas event. As a Christian, the atonement is with blood and Jesus made it. It is once-for-all for everyone who desires it, everyone regardless of the time or place in which one lives or lived. Other Christians may have a slightly different take on this. But a radically different take moves one out of the realm of Christianity. For people of other religions, I of course make my offering of peace in my belief in freedom of religion. In the same spirit, for the non-religionist, the way to atonement is hers/his to devise or to ignore.
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Re: CYNOSURE

Postby Slava » Wed Dec 26, 2012 7:13 pm

Philip, you seem to have forgotten the atonement part of "God's" forgiveness. At confession, the priest assigns punishment in order to achieve forgiveness. Doing the stations of the cross, saying a certain number of certain prayers are, theoretically and theologically, how one makes amends and achieves at-one-ness with the power that be.

Yet that is only for Christians.

Others may still use to word in a non-religious fashion. After a spat, spouses and significant others often make amends and seek atonement with their other, do they not?
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Re: CYNOSURE

Postby Perry Lassiter » Wed Dec 26, 2012 11:37 pm

Slava, your statement is true for Catholics, who are given penance in the confessional. Unfortunately, confession is diminishing as a practice. Apart from the religious value, gettingg it off your chest to another human being is psychologically healthy.

However, Protestants do not normally link forgiveness to human atonement, penance, nor punishment. And some modern Catholic theologians have equally strong emphasis on a theology of grace.
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Re: CYNOSURE

Postby Philip Hudson » Thu Dec 27, 2012 12:54 am

Catholicism teaches not only regular repentance, it teaches penance. While I do not agree with this practice, it is not a point of disruption of fellowship with my Catholic, brothers and sisters. I know they believe Grace trumps all earthly action. Our good works are not righteousness in our own strength but are only filthy rags. Given grace, our good works become stars in the crown that we will cast at Jesus' pierced feet in the Kingdom.

I wish we had some other forum to carry on these spiritual discussions. Not all Alpha Agora friends want to follow these lines of discussion, so I think I will soft pedal my responses until Easter.

You may note that I am not asking anyone else to follow suit. When a Good Word has a religious application, it is appropriate to give it religious wiggle room. Perry, the professional theologian, puts in his two bits worth. Sometimes I have a ha’penny’s worth of non-professional comment. (I first wrote worth as wroth. Freudian slip?) We need to strive to be well rounded. Any of us can send private messages for added discussion.
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Re: CYNOSURE

Postby LukeJavan8 » Thu Dec 27, 2012 1:16 pm

Following closely.
But perhaps politics and religion would be better left alone.
Yet no one has complained yet, and everyone has been
very respectful - I for one appreciate that.
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Re: CYNOSURE

Postby Philip Hudson » Thu Dec 27, 2012 3:47 pm

Luke: We are English language and especially word mavens. Words are used in contexts. People are social, political and religious animals (and a lot more). We must discuss these things. The primary aims are to elucidate English and to have a good time doing it. Have a blessed New Year. I have given up on Spanish and German quotes for Lent (a little early).
It is dark at night, but the Sun will come up and then we can see.
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Re: CYNOSURE

Postby LukeJavan8 » Thu Dec 27, 2012 4:21 pm

Excellent!
but Lent? 'Tis only the 3rd day of Christmas! Three french hens.
And I wish ye those and more!
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Re: CYNOSURE

Postby Philip Hudson » Sat Dec 29, 2012 2:36 am

I apologize Luke. I don't know much about Lent. I do know it comes after Fat Tuesday and some people give up something they like during Lent. I used to be fascinated by the Lenten practice of putting soot, from the burning of last year's palms from Palm Sunday, on the forehead on Ash Wednesday. In my youth, we always knew which Catholics went to Mass on the first day of Lent. Sometimes, but not often, I wish my church were just a little bit liturgical. But it isn't a whit.
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