September 27, 2007

Sin and femin

Filed under: language,words — crcb @ 9:19 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

Mood: monergistic

I was thinking about sin the other day, because I was thinking about preaching, because I was reading P.B. Shelley. From the concept of sin, I wandered over to the word itself.

I don’t know how far I agree with the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, and I don’t know what other languages are like, but maybe it says something about Anglophones that we don’t have an antonym for sin, either as a noun (“a sin”) or a verb (“to sin”). We have virtue, but that’s the opposite of sinfulness. We don’t virtue, and we don’t commit a virtue. We have common phrases, like “a good deed” or “doing good,” but no single-word contrary.

But is the single-word criterion irrelevant? We learn spoken language before written, and we speak in phrases, not words. If I read the first clause of this post out loud as I would naturally say it, and listen carefully, what I hear is word-clusters, not individual words: Iwasthinking aboutsin theotherday.

There are times, though, when a single word for good deeds or doing good would be useful. Might I coin one?

“Virtue” comes from the Latin vir, “man,” which is also the root (no pun intended) of “virile.” For the opposite of “sin,” I offer “femin,” from the Latin femina, “woman.”

There! Now I’ve done my femin for the day.


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