Sunday, January 06, 2013

A+ brilliance du jour

Those erudite A+ males and women on Planet A+ continue to enlighten the world  (The word male is OK,  but female is a no-no in A+ la la land. It is best to assume any word is bad on the bizarro Planet A+.)

Here, in discussing one of the lower denominations of atheism, PZ's "dictionary atheists", who depending on whom you ask, may or may not be True Atheists™, this guru gives the A+ view on dictionaries:
I don't think dictionaries describe the meaning of words. They summarise the primary usages of words in a way that is traditionally limited by the amount of space available in a printed dictionary. Even then they cannot do justice to what a word means. The meaning of all words is flexible and subjective. If I agree any meaning, it is purely for the sake of argument.
These special people will surely change the world. I can feel it changing. Watch out!


  1. Check with any linguist; you'll find that 90% of them agree with everything you quoted (with perhaps the exception of the very last line).

    1. But all the previous sentences in the quote were only there to set up that last line. It's like, "let me write something that sounds reasonable so that when I say that I make up my own definitions to words on the fly, it won't sound so crazy."

    2. Jeffery, you are wrong (it's getting to be a habit with you.) Linguists would argue that in their science they search from better, more precise, less ambiguous ways to define words. They would not make a general statement that "dictionaries do not describe the meanings of words" or that they are limited by space. They would not agree that the meanings of all words are "flexible and subjective."

      Finally, the writer is not making an exposition on the science of linguistics. He is on a forum that invented a new phrase (Atheism Plus) because the word atheism is inadequate--because its current usage, as described in those useless dictionaries, does not include the desire for social justice in the definition. The very name of the forum recognizes, contra what the writer wrote, that dictionary meanings are not so flexible and subjective and sometimes qualifiers (like "plus") have to be used to convey the desired meaning. You cannot just declare that "atheism" now means something new. At least not if you want to commuincate.

  2. They would not agree that the meanings of all words are "flexible and subjective."

    You haven't talked to any linguists, I see. It's getting to be a habit with you.