Tuesday, May 30, 2006


According to WordWays logology is an old word resurrected by the late Dmitri Borgmann to describe recreational linguistics . That would make people like me (and quite likely others who read this blog) a logologist.

I don't subscribe to WordWays, so I can't give much of a reveiw of it, but David Weignburger has just blogged about it on his site Joho the Blog. It sounds like it contains some quite interesting stuff. The WordWays site also contains a bunch of articles from older issues that look like an interesting read.

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Friday, May 26, 2006

AWAW: Evangelist

The word Evangelist used to conjer up images of gospel preachers, trying to convert people to christianity. But now there seems to be new definition appearing in the english language. I first noticed this when google hired Vint Cerf as "Chief Internet Evangelist" now we have Guy Kawasaki's "The Art of Evangelism" and Jeremy Zawdony from Yahoo advertising for a "Developer Network Evangelist". Clearly something is changing...

The American Heritage Dictionary picks up some of this 'newer' meaning in definition 2 of the related word evangelism - "Militant zeal for a cause".

e·van·gel·ism (ĭ-văn'jə-lĭz'əm) pronunciation
1. Zealous preaching and dissemination of the gospel, as through missionary work.
2. Militant zeal for a cause.

Source: http://www.answers.com/evangelism

Other dictionaries only seem to list the older "gospel preacher" meaning. http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=evangelist

So we might think this whole new meaning for evangelist is an exciting new "Web 2.0" thing? Well it turns that that definition has been around for a while. The OED lists this 1978 quotation as an early example of the definition they call "A zealous advocate of a cause or promulgator of a doctrine."

"1978 P. HOWARD Weasel Words xxi. 90 It makes sense to say that the French Revolution found its evangelist in Rousseau; that Mary Whitehouse is the evangelist of cleaning up television. "

That being said, this meaning is a a lot newer than when it was first use to refer to a gospel writer (Mathew, Mark, Luke or John).

"1297 R. GLOUC. (1724) 67 And sende Sent Mark be euangelist in to Egypt. "

Quotations taken from the Oxford English Dictionary