Monday, April 26, 2010

of luddites and euphemisms...

... of some new words encountered, researched, understood and learnt:

Luddite: [n. LUH-dite] The noun Luddite specifically refers to one of a group of early 19th century English workmen who were campaigning against the automation of the power loom. In the modern context, it refers to an opponent of technological progress.

Etymology: The original Luddites claimed to be led by one "King Ludd" (also known as "General Ludd" or "Captain Ludd") whose signature appears on a "workers' manifesto" of the time. King Ludd was based on the earlier Ned Ludd, who some believed to have destroyed two large stocking frames in the village of Antsey, Leicestershire in 1779. At that time in England, machine breaking could lead to heavy penalties or even execution, which might have led some to use fictitious names for protection.

In a slightly more removed context, Elton John on stage at American Idol Gives Back last week used the the word to refer to his ability to bumble through technology when he couldn't recall the website address of the AIDS Foundation he help set up. "I'm such a Luddite," he said. "I love that; some of the most famous people are so technologically challenged. Makes me feel better".


Euphemism: [n. yoo-fuh-miz-uhm] 1. the substitution of a mild, indirect, or vague expression for one thought to be offensive, harsh, or blunt; 2. the expression so substituted: e.g. “To pass away” is a euphemism for “to die.”

Etymology: The word euphemism comes from the Greek word euphemo, meaning "auspicious/good/fortunate speech/kind" which in turn is derived from the Greek root-words eu, (good/well) + pheme (speech/speaking). The eupheme was originally a word or phrase used in place of a religious word or phrase that should not be spoken aloud; etymologically, the eupheme is the opposite of the blaspheme (evil-speaking). The term euphemism itself was used as a euphemism by the ancient Greeks, meaning 'to keep a holy silence' (speaking well by not speaking at all).

I have to admit that I had never really known the true definition of the word, Euphemism. Now, I do!