The Etymological Fallacy

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Hope you are fine week :)

Today, let’s talk about The Etymological Fallacy.

"Lucy, why do you call your children 'kids?' Don't you see how offensive it is to liken your children to immature little goats?"

What is it?

The meaning of words can change over time.

This fallacy is usually committed when one finds the historical meaning of a word more palatable or conducive to his or her argument. This is a more specific form of the appeal to definition. [3]

Examples -

Calling someone (a straight person) who is happy and jolly 'gay' and insisting that only the old meaning of 'gay' is valid. 'Gay' used to mean 'happy'.

Similarly, “Awful” did once mean “to inspire awe”, but there are very few, if any, people who continue to use the term in this way. Just because it makes her feel better, it cannot be assumed. [3]

Where does it occur?

This is a linguistic misconception and is sometimes used as a basis for a linguistic prescription. An argument constitutes an etymological fallacy if it makes a claim about the present meaning of a word based exclusively on its etymology. [1]

References & Studies: -




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