December 29, 2008

Redefine a Word and the Problem Goes Away!

Justin Katz

Some readers may have found cause for a sparkle of hope in the following turnabout, as explained in the NY Times:

The number of black children being raised by two parents appears to be edging higher than at any time in a generation, at nearly 40 percent, according to newly released census data.

Demographers said such a trend might be partly attributable to the growing proportion of immigrants in the nation’s black population. It may have been driven, too, by the values of an emerging black middle class, a trend that could be jeopardized by the current economic meltdown.

Unfortunately, I think Domenico Bettinelli is probably correct that the third explanation dominates... and invalidates:

The Census Bureau attributed an indeterminate amount of the increase to revised definitions adopted in 2007, which identify as parents any man and woman living together, whether or not they are married or the child’s biological parents.

Dom writes:

There's no denying that grandparents, aunts and uncles, foster parents, or just good-hearted folks who raise other people's children are better for these children than not having anything, the re-definition of the word and concept of "parent" broadens its meaning to insensibility and risks watering it down, not unlike what has been done to the word and concept of "marriage" by civil partnerships, same-sex "marriage" and no-fault divorce.

It is undeniable that children are better off when raised by both parents living together in a loving household.

Yep, and as Dom goes on to suggest, the forces of "progress" are laboring to ensure that we soon lack the necessary language even to discuss such plain realities.

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Yep, and as Dom goes on to suggest, the forces of "progress" are laboring to ensure that we soon lack the necessary language even to discuss such plain realities.

I wonder how much economic activity was lost today as public school employees got a free day off and private-sector workers had to take personal days or scramble to accommodate their children's schedules.

The first quote is from this post . The second is Justin's from Dec. 19 call The Land of All or Nothing. It seems to me as though Justin was found to have committed an error when he referred to public school employees getting a "free" day off. Most of us know what the word "free" means but instead of owning up to a mistake what we got was Justin's redefinition of the word "free". So Justin it seems that you care how language is used in the first instance but what about the second?

Posted by: Phil at December 29, 2008 8:13 PM

No, Phil. You're just plain wrong. With reference to the definition for "free" on Merriam-Webster, I'll still have intended definition five — "a: having no obligations (as to work) or commitments (I'll be free this evening) b: not taken up with commitments or obligations (a free evening)" — no matter how many times you insist (for political reasons) that I must have meant number 10 — "not costing or charging anything."

Posted by: Justin Katz at December 29, 2008 8:21 PM


Play your semantic little game. Define words as you wish. I don't mind being wrong. Is there some other meaning for "plain wrong" that I should know before accepting that I was wrong about your use of the word free. I know how even handed you've been when it comes to issuses involving public workers.
By the way check the definition for parent on your Merriam-Webster and you will find one that makes your post seem a little silly.

parent- a person who brings up and cares for another.

Posted by: Phil at December 30, 2008 6:17 AM

"Semantic" and "game" are not inherently linked.

Regard ing "parent," the topic of this post is a specific tabulation and the definition thereof. The fact that a word can have multiple meanings doesn't change the significance of changing that definition in a specific application.

Posted by: Justin Katz at December 30, 2008 7:09 AM

Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle.
No matter how much you shake and dance you can't get rid of your shadow.

Posted by: OldTimeLefty at December 30, 2008 5:13 PM
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