Words and Names
Jan 18, 1995 01:13 PM
Jan. 18, 1995
In a message just posted, Jerry S. writes:
". . . it is unfortunate that words and names used by earlier
theosophists seem so totally out of place today. . . ."
This is only to be expected since languages change, grow and
"evolve." If present day theosophists could devise a totally
up-to-date, politically correct vocabulary, fifty years from now,
or 100 years from now, Jerry S.'s comment would probably be
appropriate for our 1995 vocabulary!
Let's be concerned about using proper, appropriate words but even
more concerned with ascertaining the meaning behind the words.
I believe I read a posting earlier today in which Eldon T.
suggested we update and edit HPB's writings and substitute more
modern words for certain outmoded terms used by HPB. Is this
what Eldon was suggesting? If so, I totally DISAGREE. HPB wrote
in the language of her times. (What else could she do??!!)
Individuals who want to read her writings can, therefore, make
the reading experience an educational one by expanding their
vocabulary and learning that words can have more than one meaning
and can have shades of meaning, etc. Consulting one or two good
dictionaries can also aid the process.
If you start editing and changing HPB's writings, where do you
stop? Who decides what words are changed, updated, etc?
Personally I want to read what HPB wrote just as she wrote it,
warts and all. Next thing some one will want to update the
language of THE MAHATMA LETTERS!
Another example: In 1963, Geoffrey Hodson's Volume I of THE
HIDDEN WISDOM IN THE HOLY BIBLE was first published. Just thirty
years later, an edited edition was published by TPH, Wheaton.
The Publisher's Note contained the following: "Care has been
taken to modernize Hodson's style while remaining faithful to his
method. . . .Hodson's spelling, punctuation, and usage have
been modernized. In keeping with modern conventions, gender-
specific terms such as *man* and *mankind* have been replaced by
gender- neutral terms such as *human being*, *humanity*, and
*humankind*. Masculine pronouns referring to the Deity have also
been eliminated. . . ."
At this rate, all theosophical works will need to be "modernized"
for style every thirty years or less! I enjoyed reading the new
"edition" of Hodson's work but was it REALLY necessary to
modernize his style?
Enough. I have probably stepped on a few toes.
Daniel H. Caldwell
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