Control the meaning of words and you control thought. A note about #AmyConeyBarrettSCOTUS

When I worked with the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei” one of our office mates was a German religious sister who had survived Dresden and then bombing in the Wuppertal.  She was one of the holiest people I’ve ever met and I cherish my time with her, every day.

One day we were working on something in German. I don’t recall how the topic came up exactly, but she showed me entries for the same word in two dictionaries, once published in West Germany and another published in East Germany. They were substantively different.  The nuances were striking.

Dictionaries can be either prescriptive, telling us what the word is to mean, or descriptive, telling us how the word is being used. There is the famous case in English of the Webster’s Third, which shifted lexicography.

Lately, we’ve been hearing how the dems, especially the HARRIS/Biden ticket and their surrogates, have been trying to change the meaning of the phrase “packing the court”. We heard yesterday the loopy Sen. Hirono upbraid Judge Amy Coney Barrett – just making things up, as dems do now – about her use of the phrase “sexual preference”.

Today I saw this fascinating tweet.

I think you can understand why the East Germans shifted the meanings of words in their prescriptive dictionaries: thought control.

Control the meaning of words and you control thought.

That is why it is important to have LATIN in our liturgical rites and people should have access to different sound translations.

We are our rites.

Change the WORDS of our prayers and you will – over time – change what people believe.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Liberals, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Save The Liturgy - Save The World, Si vis pacem para bellum!, The Campus Telephone Pole, The Coming Storm, The Drill and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Paul says:

    In nomine patris et filii et spiritus sancti Amen
    Words do mean things.
    Go to confession.

  2. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Meanwhile, Barrett lives in the head of committeemembers. Apparently it was driving them crazy that she didn’t use her notepad to take notes or even doodle. So they demanded that they show them what was on her notepad, and she said, “Nothing except the letterhead that says US Senate.”

    Of course, if anybody holds up a blank notepad, it’s an invitation to photoshop and meme. And since she had a wry expression on her face, the meme folk really really love it.

    (Obviously she was planning on taking home the notepad clean and flawless, as either a souvenir, or as scratch paper for her kids. Probably she’s been doing that every day, so that every kid can get one. Now she’ll have to save and frame at least one notepad page, and stick it on her Qual Wall in her office.)

  3. tho says:

    The Democratic party is the party of bullies. Mazie Hirono show us that, by genuflecting to the LGBTQ bullies. It won’t be long before we will have a list of approved words or phrases, just like East Germany.
    This election has me frightened, the Democrats will stop at nothing to turn us into a baby killing, homosexual loving, Christian hating nation. They are livid that we were able to elect a man like The Donald to his first office as President of The United States. and they are determined that it won’t happen again. Most of these politicians have never had a private job, just look at Biden, almost 50 years leeching on taxpayers. I heartily approve of these Rosary Crusades, similar as before Lepanto.

  4. IaninEngland says:

    “Offensive” is a word quite over-used. *Everything* can be, and often is, offensive to somebody. It pays to bear in mind that when you say something, anything, I make a choice to be offended or not to be offended. Again, it’s a *choice* to find something offensive. Sometimes, you just have to use the word that’s available for the meaning you want to convey, regardless of any offence the other person might decide to take.

  5. Andrew says:

    I often think of a statement made by Quintilianus in his Institutio Oratoria, about the proper use of words. He writes:

    “Consuetudo vero certissima loquendi magistra, utendumque plane sermone, ut nummo, cui publica forma est.”

    “The most reliable teacher of speech is the custom. Speech should be used like currency, which has a public form.”

    I take it to mean that, just as we agree on the price of merchandise (such as a loaf of bread or a gallon of milk) through public usage in trade, so we also define the meaning of words through public usage in speech. Language is shaped through social interaction.

    In America, it is not customary to think of the word “preference” as anything inherently offensive. However, that may change with popular usage. On the other hand, as Pope John XXIII writes in Veterum Sapientia:

    “Latin, in fact, is already safe from various ambiguities associated with the meaning of words arising from popular usage, for it is understood to be set and unchanging, while certain new meanings of given Latin words that needed to be explained during the progressive clarification and defense of christian doctrine have long ago been set and firmly ratified.”

    Deo gratias.

  6. NOCatholic says:

    If “sexual preference” is being called “offensive,” there is a reason. The reason that makes sense to me, is that the phrase implies “being homosexual” is a choice, not an innate characteristic.

    Of course, while experiencing same-sex attraction is not chose, yielding to it, like yielding to any sinful temptation, most certainly is a choice. Our actions are always choices.

  7. Pingback: THVRSDAY EDITION – Big Pulpit

  8. Ms. M-S says:

    Welcome to your Merriam Webster Newspeak Edition. Older online editions have been taken down. For your convenience, older hard copy editions will be picked up at your door. We know your address. Have a nice day!

  9. JonPatrick says:

    If after my three score and ten years I suddenly decide I am a woman in a man’s body I can change my gender. Yet if I am LGBT+ it is not my preference but is because I was born that way. It is all very confusing.

  10. teomatteo says:

    Shoooot. I saw this come’n 20 years ago when my bully sister-in-law admonished me on the word ‘Oriental’. That was ‘racists’ according to her. I resisted –as I do today.

  11. samwise says:

    How does the “B” in LGBTQ, not signify preference? I can understand an argument about how same-sex attraction isn’t chosen, etc. But bisexuality? That’s a preference if there ever was one!

  12. Totus Tuus says:

    In the spirit of fairness and impartiality, I want to reply to something in this comment. It paints a mental picture of Democratic Senators seething with rage, unable to get Judge Barrett our of her head, demanding that she show her notepad, and confounded when she proved that she didn’t need any. In point of fact, she did prove that she was just as brilliant, talented, impartial, and gracious as we all have known she would be—but the notepad incident didn’t come from her living in the head of committee members. John Cornyn, a Republican Senator from Texas and one of Judge Barrett’s biggest supporters, presumably noticed that Judge Barrett’s notepad was empty and asked her to show the rest of the committee, likely hoping that it would further impress upon the rest of the committee her great intelligence. It was a nice moment—one of too few, sadly. I hope you’re right and she does get it framed, now that it’s the empty notepad that’s been on national news. And you’re absolutely right about the meme-makers. I’m sure we can expect to see that image over and over, Heaven help us. Hopefully we’ll at least get some good Catholic meme-makers to add some good ones into the mix.

  13. WVC says:

    @teomatteo – as someone who is Oriental myself, I prefer that to Asian. Sounds so much cooler, and also doesn’t lump me into the same group as Russians and Indians.

  14. WVC says:

    @samwise – Are you trying to use logic and reason? Don’t you know that’s racist?!? (just trying to provide the other side’s counter argument)

  15. samwise says:

    @WVC: exactly, & I think the counter argument is capable of a logical conclusion: polygamy. Isn’t that the next cash cow for lgBtq lawyers? If B=preference, then one ought to have many spouses of different genders, right?

  16. teomatteo says:

    Samwise, I never looked at it that way. On another note: must the Left allow Bi-s to marry two people, one of each sex to … you know… fullfil their …. you know… desires?
    WVC, yes. When i hear/read the scripture passage on Pentecost and St Luke recounts where the jewish pilgrams all came into Jeruselm from and I hear some came from Asia. I am not surprised in the least bit.

  17. ChesterFrank says:

    Yes, I will agree that linguistics with a knowledge of Latin is important for the Church. It is a specialty though, and it takes a highly trained person to make accurate translation, and individual translators might not always agree with each other.

    Interesting that the use of the word “preference” is under ridicule and discussion. They of course arguing for Nature and against Nurture. But what about gender fluidity, is that preference? I don’t know, I have not completed my sensitivity training yet. Mandated training. I don’t prefer to take it. And what about the transsexual argument, it’s wrong to think of that as mutilation. It’s also probably wrong to think about it as preference. I don’t know what to think, but my government will tell me what I should think. What a bunch of Horse Sh!t. Can I say that on a religious blog?

  18. NOCatholic says:

    re: use of the word “Oriental”: who decided that word was offensive and why?

    I also wonder who (besides Senator Hirono) who determined “Sexual preference” was offensive.

  19. samwise says:

    @NOCatholic: the zeitgeist

  20. NOCatholic says:

    So — the zeitgeist, the “spirit of the age”. I think that spirit goes by other names. No prizes for guessing any of them.

  21. The Cobbler says:

    Actually, this is not an example of changing what people think by changing the meaning of words. The left already believed this stuff isn’t a choice.

    And you know who was using the term “sexual preference” as recently as October 12th? LGBTQWTFBBQ “advocates” and “allies” themselves. They’re trying to smear ACB for using a liberal term while conservative.

    They changed their own word purely to make up something to punish a conservative for.

    All those people now insisting it’s offensive, what it actually proves is that they hate conservatives more than they care about their own position or the people it is supposed to defend.

Comments are closed.