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Defining Marriage

Language Log‘s Geoffrey Pullum points out the fact that gay marriage rules and people who want to define marriage as a “sacred bond between a man and a woman” or whatever are a bunch of assholes.

And they’re no great hands at original phrasing either; observe for instance the frequency of that Christ-y adjective in that stupid phrase, which I keep hearing. I see 738 google hits for “bond between a man and a woman” and 90 for “sacred bond between a man and a woman”. Over 10% — most alarming! Often this sort of parrotism is a sign of a major cultural influence. For English, usually the Bible, often Shakespeare, other sources too of course come into play. But I don’t see evidence of that phrasing being kingjamesical, so who knows. Rhythmic formulaic chanting can make one feel very comfortable with even one’s most infamous actions, so perhaps this chunk of language, rather than having an antient “only begetter”, is a magical refrain of comparative recency.

Defining, in general, is a low tactic. One feels contempt for those who argue from definitions. My particular circumstances tinge that revulsion with compassion, but usually only barely.

Definition, when prescriptive, is an act of violence. The word, of course, comes from Latin finis, an end or border. Building fences is an act of violence which itself doth give rise to more violence.

If you are interested in the word “marriage”, go to the library and use the OED, a real dictionary. Or check out the informative, intelligent and dispassionate entry over at the laudable Wikipedia.

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    Marriage doesn’t have to be defined. In my opinion marriage should be a sacred bond between a man and a woman who love each other very much.
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