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Dr. Goodword
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Postby Dr. Goodword » Wed Apr 03, 2013 10:29 pm

• blasphemy •

Pronunciation: blæs-fê-mi • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: A sacrilege, an irreverent act or slanderous utterance aimed at something considered holy or sacred.

Notes: Today's Good Word is based on a verb, to blaspheme, which means to utter something or act in such a way that contradicts holy writ or violates some sacred law, place, creed, etc. It comes with a substantial lexical family, including an adjective, blasphemous, and a personal noun, blasphemer.

In Play: The assumption is that the object of blasphemy is holy, sacrosanct: "His way of life is blasphemy against God." However, "holy, sacrosanct" may be taken metaphorically: "I think George Mopsolotovos would consider it blasphemy were any of his daughters to marry a non-Greek."

Word History: Today's Good Word in Middle English was blasfemie from Latin blasphemia. This word was borrowed from Greek blasphemi, the noun from blasphemein "to blaspheme". Blasphemein is a compound verb that originally meant "to speak evil". Its root is made up of blas "evil" + pheme "speech". The latter word is related to phone "voice, sound", visible in myriad English borrowings, such as telephone and phonetics. It comes from the same Proto-Indo-European source as Latin fari "to speak", which led to fama "fame" and fatum "prophecy, doom", coming from the days when oracles were thought to determine your fate. Greek blas comes from the same PIE word as Latin malus "bad", found in such borrowings from French and Latin as malice, malevolent and dismal. (It would be blasphemy not to credit Perry Lassiter, Grand Panjandrum of the Alpha Agora, for suggesting today's Good Word, so here goes: Thanks, Perry.)
• The Good Dr. Goodword

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Postby MTC » Thu Apr 04, 2013 8:08 am

Yes, thanks to Perry for an excellent choice. Scrub blasphemy a little bit and the ancient Greek coinage stands out: blas "evil" + pheme "speech". But blasphemy is nothing so inert as a coin. In the mouth of Cotton Mather blasphemy would detonate from the pulpit. It's a word which should come with an exclamation mark.

Being of a somewhat devlish nature, I immediately set about looking for antonyms. What struck me was the disproportionate number of synonyms. There were only a handful of antonyms like sanctification. Why? My researches led me to an article by a linguist who has attempted to answer the broader question of why there are so many words in the global vocabulary expressing negative emotions compared to positive emotions. See
( ... 987&page=1)

Personally, I think the answer lies in the darker recesses of human nature. Blasphemy takes me down a sulfurous trail...

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Postby LukeJavan8 » Thu Apr 04, 2013 11:45 am

The Lord of the Flies.
-----please, draw me a sheep-----

Perry Lassiter
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Postby Perry Lassiter » Thu Apr 04, 2013 12:59 pm

Interesting article. One positiive word, joy, common to 37 languages, and six negative emotions common to all. Worth pondering. One negative word I have trouble grasping is shame. I'm not sure I've felt that. Perhaps a combo of guilt and embarrasment, as in getting caught at something. Read an astute self-help book once that centered on shame as the root of much dysfunctions. Still don't understand it emotionally.

Blasphemy is another kettle of fish. I understand it but revolt at the idea of punishment, let alone death threats for speaking or writing against a sacred cow. Lately in our political culture censure lies close by for those even wanting to modify the party line. Sadly, the tendency reaches even into religious denominations. Ultimately, punishing blasphemy should itself be blasphemny against truth.

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Postby Philip Hudson » Thu Apr 04, 2013 10:21 pm

"Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning." (Psalm 30:05) Happiness just happens due to conditions. Joy is from the depths of our being.
It is dark at night, but the Sun will come up and then we can see.

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