понедельник, 20 января 2014 г.


Novelty and fads are over-rated. Especially linguistic ones. My latest peeve is the use of the word 'passion'.

For me the meaning of the word passion is pretty well-established. Passion is unbridled feeling - the stuff romances are made of and, for that matter, vendettas and drive-by shootings. According to the Oxford Dictionary: "strong and barely controllable emotion." Permissible? Yes, to an extent. Always a good thing? No. To be cultivated and strived for? I wouldn't think so.

Now everyone wants to be passionate. The key to choosing a career path is determining one's 'passions'. There is even 'passionate preaching.' It's the alleged mark of authenticity and genuineness. I'd be the first to rail against dry reason and joyless duty, but surely there all sorts of passions that drive us in the wrong direction and which prevent us from fulfilling our calling. Selfish ambition, pride and conceit, self-aggrandizement, lust, anger, rage, greed, a misplaced self-confidence etc. All these are passions and can make people more motivated and interesting to listen to. But, in the end, they are also liable to make them do and say things they and we will regret. Do you want your plane flown by the most passionate pilot? Or your operation performed by the most passionate surgeon? Do you want the most passionate husband to raise your children?  

Okay, so we should not be trying to be passionate. So what should we be trying to be? Zealous, committed, determined, energetic, motivated, 'on fire' even? Aristotle: "Pleasure, then, is a part of the good life, but is not its aim or definition. Rather, good actions, because they are good and in accord with judgments of the highest part of the soul, are naturally accompanied by pleasure, though not necessarily physical or sensible pleasure... Good pleasures accompany good actions, while bad pleasures accompany bad actions. Pleasure in itself is neutral, but its goodness is determined by the goodness of the action..."

And here's some advice from CS Lewis, "Don't use words too big for the subject. Don't say "infinitely" when you mean "very"; otherwise you'll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite." (The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume 3: Narnia, Cambridge, and Joy, 1950-1963, ed. by Walter Hooper. HarperOne, 2007)

1 комментарий:

  1. В русском языке есть выражение "страстная речь" и никаких, негативных ассоциаций со словом "страсть" она не несет. http://dic.academic.ru/dic.nsf/dic_synonims/380772/%D1%81%D1%82%D1%80%D0%B0%D1%81%D1%82%D0%BD%D0%B0%D1%8F