#AtoZAprilChallenge: Keywords

Raymond Williams at Saffron Walden
Original photo by GwydionM (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:GwydionM)

For the purpose of this challenge: Raymond Williams’s book “Keywords: A vocabulary of culture and society” (1976-1983)

Author of Culture and Society, published in 1958, Cambridge academic and member of Plaid Cymru, Williams was inspired by his country, Wales, and his love of words, their history and their meaning.  I owe to Williams to participate to this year’s A to Z since without him I may have lacked the motivation!

I invite followers of this blog to read Keywords.

#AtoZAprilChallenge: Equality

Love Unites Wikipedia identifies Equality references in Science (mathematical equality or logical equality), Social Sciences, Politics (Equality Act), Geography (places named Equality in Alabama, Illinois, Minnesota), and the Media.

Social Equality according to the Wikipedia entry “is a state of affairs in which all people within a specific society or isolated group have the same status in certain respects. At the very least, social equality includes equal rights under the law, such as security, voting rights, freedom of speech and assembly, property rights, and equal access to social goods and services. However, it also includes concepts of economic equity, i.e. access to education, health care and other social securities. It also includes equal opportunities and obligations, and so involves the whole of society.

Social equality requires the absence of legally enforced social class or caste boundaries and the absence of discrimination motivated by an inalienable part of a person’s identity. For example, sex, gender, race, age, sexual orientation, origin, caste or class, income or property, language, religion, convictions, opinions, health or disability must not result in unequal treatment under the law and should not reduce opportunities unjustifiably.

Social equality refers to social, rather than economic, or income equality. “Equal opportunities” is interpreted as being judged by ability, which is compatible with a free-market economy. A problem is horizontal inequality, the inequality of two persons of same origin and ability.”

Equality has been in regular use in English since C15, from French, égalité, Latin aequalitatem, aequalis, derived from aequus – level, even, just. The earliest uses of equality are in relation to physical quantity, but the social sense  of equality, especially in the sense elf equivalence of rank, is present from C15… Equality to indicate a more general condition developed from this but it represented a crucial shift. What it implied was not a comparison of rank but an assertion of a much more general, normal or normative condition. This use is evident in Milton (Paradise Lost, XII, 26):

‘… Not content

With faire equalities, fraternal state.’

… In C18 it was given specific emphasis in the American and French revolutions. What was then asserted was both a fundamental condition – ‘all men are created equal’ – and a set of specific demands, as in equality before the law – that is to say, reform of previous statutory inequalities, in feudal and post-feudal ranks and privileges.” (Williams, Keywords)

#AtoZAprilChallenge: Communication

Do not speak Raymond Williams, author of “Keywords” (see entry for “K” on April 12) wrote:

Communication in its most general modern meaning has been in the language since C15” (15th century). The word stems from Latin communis – common: “hence communicate – make common to many, impart. Communication was first this action, and then, the object thus made common: a communication… It was in C20, with the development of other means of passing information and maintaining social contact, that communications came also and perhaps predominantly to refer to such Media as the press and broadcasting.”

Our age has been called “the information age”, but would it be better named “communication age” with that last meaning, to include “social media”?