On Tue, Apr 28, 2009 at 9:38 PM, Ray Saintonge <saintonge(a)telus.net> wrote:
The distinction that you make is unlikely to be appreciated by many
people. Burying the person rather than the body may indeed
colloquial though I'm unaware of evidence in support of either
position. Is there an English style manual that says anything about this?
While you are certainly free to change articles in the manner that you
seek, any campaign to impose this will inevitably be seen by many as a
slide into pedantry.
There is no "English style manual" on the matter, AFAIK. And if there was,
would it make a difference to us, if they dealt with the matter
inaccurately? "Campaign?" Suggestion. "Pedantry?" I understand
very well. The issue does go beyond Wikipedia though. Colloquialisms, while
not belonging in an authoritative encyclopedia, nevertheless appear in
journalism pieces, as well as colloquially-written encyclopedias.
The concept came to mind recently after a spree killing not long ago in the
American South. The husband of a woman and infant child who "were killed"
(ie. who's "bodies were destroyed") made a statement to the press
(paraphrasing) expressing "I know they are in Heaven now." Ie. "in
means something like "not dead, just relocated." Some TV reporter however
went on to say that (paraphrasing) 'people were highly emotional, knowing
that they would never see their loved ones again' (directly contradicting
the ("former") husband/father just seconds before).
Now, in a certain respect, its true that "dead" people will never be
again with the eyes that people typically use to see things around these
parts: Their former bodies (not theirs anymore are they?) are destroyed and
therefore their abilities to interface with the material realm are gone. But
to say that they "are dead" and that their family "will never see them
again" is at best tacky insensitive OR; based simply on a misconception that
arises from an attempted extraction of meaning from the colloquial
Of course the distinctions deal directly with the concept that "death"
itself is simply a misnomer, and I understand nobody wants to go there. Not
yet, anyway. But, why are the colloquialisms innacurate at all? Chomsky (a
linguist of some sort) put it this way: "*Death and genitals* are things
that frighten people, and when people are frightened, they develop means of
concealment and aggression." The "aggression" part is a bit aggravated
used out of context, but the concepts are straightforward: The
colloquialisms follow concepts of concealment. I am under the principled
delusion that The Encyclopedia follow principles such as revelation (compare
concealment) and explanation (compare non-explanation).
Granted, the spiritualistic/religious view that people live on "after death"
in some sort of "after life" is a fringe theory; one that only ~95.2%
percent of the world give any credence to. And because microscopes can only
show cells, bacteria, prions, etc. the sciencey minority tends to regard
such (~92.5%) theories as based in "not fact," (where, by sciencey
circumlocution, what constitutes "fact" is itself determined by science
philosophy). With all that said, that's not to say that I am promoting a
view that "after life" (haw!) concepts be supported; simply that we not use
inaccurate (and unimportant) colloquial language which by coincidence can be
ambiguous, and use instead language for which even secular and religious
concepts are in agreement.