Monday, February 27, 2012

Marriage Words

When the Pilgrim Fathers popped off on their little adventure they took with them a number of words in common usage at the time. When a language changes location the process of evolution begins upon it. Some words they took with them died out but continued here in the UK; others died out in the UK but survived in the Americas. Fall for autumn would be a good example - we used to use it here all the time. It is wrong to call it an Americanism.

And look at the history of our English language in England. Our words come from all over the world.

Trying to stop the evolution of language is a bit Canutey. And by the way I think his name was C'nut or K'nut. It evolved. In particular at the teenage level words are reclaimed and relocated all the time. Is that a good thing? No, it's wicked. It's mint. It's top drawer pants.

So a petition dropped in to my in-box this week asking me to support the Coalition for Marriage petition.

This petition asks the government to fix the legal definition of marriage as:

...the voluntary union for life of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others.

Trouble is that the law defines current behaviour almost as often as it restricts it. Lots of same-sex partners, now civil-partnered officially, refer to their other-half as their wife or husband and their status as married. We can't stop them doing it, despite whatever the law says.

Furthermore the definition means we need to find some new word for the status of those who have married for a second or third time after a failed 'to the exclusion of all others' relationship.

There are things to get excited about in this life. Maybe us heterosexuals should get more concerned about setting a better example of how to sustain a wonderful, long-term, to-the-exclusion-of-all-others relationship. Then we would define marriage rather than asking the courts to. I'm not signing.


Alex Hobson said...

Doesn't Cnut get a bad press? As I understand it he never thought he could turn back the tide. It was his followers who over-rated his powers. The whole tide thing was a demonstration to them that there were some things even the king couldn't do.
Still, I guess following the logic (which I don't dispute, btw) of your post, then the fact that that's what happened then shouldn't hinder us in using his name to mean the opposite now.
Very confusing. But, as you say, there are things to get more excited about.

St said...

Agre with you Alex. That was exactly C'nut's point.