Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Executive Augur

On this day, in 2013, Barack Hussein Obama II was publicly inaugurated as President of the United States for a second term. Some people don't like him, some people do. I don't much care about that. I don't believe politicians do much good either way, but just the fact that he's African-American sends a message to the world that America is not a sack full of racists, as we once viewed them.
But I'm not really here because I want to talk about politics, or racism or even really the presidency. Because I am the Absurd Word Nerd, and I want to talk about a word that people have been throwing around.
The Word of the Day is: 'INAUGURATION'.

Inauguration /in'awgyərayshən/ n. 1. An act or ceremony of inaugurating.

Wow. Thanks, Dictionary. That was really helpful . . .
But just to be sure, what does 'inaugurate' mean.

Inaugurate /in'awgyərayt/ v.t. 1. To make a formal beginning of; initiate; commence; begin. 2. To introduce into office, etc., with formal ceremonies; install.

Now THAT sounds a lot more familiar. And it makes sense. Barack was introduced into office, and it was a formal beginning. That is fascinating. But that's not the reason I bring up the word. I bring it up because I happen to know of another word that makes this one raise my eyebrow.
I know there exists a much older word, with obvious ties to this one. Dictionary? Can you helps us out, here?

Augur /'awgə/ n. 1. (In Ancient Rome) one of a body of officials charged with observing and explaining omens for guidance in public affairs. ♦v.i. 2. To be a sign; bode (well or ill).

You know, I am always fascinated by this sort of thing. Etymologies. Generally, words are built upon similar words, and you can see exactly what it means, because everyone has meant the same thing through generations. But as with this example the word 'inauguration', although now associated with pomp and ceremony, was once a much more spiritual and holy affair. to 'inaugurate' was to perform the duties of an augur, and essentially to divine the future through blessings and omens.

And on first glance, they may seem terribly unrelated. And yes, there are oddities in history that can show seemingly similar words having completely different meanings.
But I don't believe that is the case here. Think about it.

The purpose of the President's Inauguration is to begin his official term, and they continue it with celebration and, of course, a speech by the freshly hired president.
And what is the purpose of this Inaugural Address, if not to set a precedent? [Puns, gotta love 'em!]
Seriously, Obama read out his speech (which he apparently wrote by hand) for the purposes of setting the standard. Letting people know what he is doing, where he is going, and why he is the president you voted for. The Inauguration can be seen as a sign. A declaration of the duties he will uphold.

And in a poetic way, you could even say that all inaugurations could be seen as the fork in the road that could either bode ill, or bode well, for their term ahead of them. There are still those elements of old traditions. And, of course, when Emperors were brought into office, it is known they did so with the ministrations of that body of officials.

But it's not exact, and there's some give either way on how closely this new use of the word translates to Ancient Rome, but I believe you can see it in there, maybe if you squint. There is a beauty to the way language evolves, but we have to remember it's roots. Where it came from. It not only advises, but evolves what the language means. In fact, to express this idea, I don't think I can say it better than Barack Obama himself:

  'Today we continue a never-ending journey, to bridge the meaning of those words with the realities of our time . . .'

Words of the past do not always translate to the modern age. And in terms of religion, sooth-saying, ceremony, history and prejudice, I believe language will continue to shed away all the unneeded baggage and step into the modern age with a new life and vigour to them, to communicate new ideas. Because words truly are immortal, and as we evolve, words too must catch up with our culture, or they will remain reclusive terms, used only by old, dying men and risk being forgotten . . .

- - - 

That's all I have to say on the word 'Inauguration'. Unfortunately I've got a little time left here . . . hmm . . . what to say, what to say.
Well, for one, the timing here may seem a little late, but that's because I live in Australia. The Inauguration, it seems, happened on the 2
1st, and today is the 22nd, so it seems late. But for us, he was inaugurated today, because of the time difference. Unfortunately, I was asleep when it all happened. But I don't think I would have watched it anyway. This isn't about me, it's about Americans. And I don't care about politics.

Perhaps later, I'll better flesh out my own views on politics. Not next post or anything.

Huh . . . still got 200 more words to fill . . .

Well, I can tell you that I plan on another piece of blogfiction in the near future. I don't want to reveal too much, because I don't want to put too much pressure on it, but be warned: there will be more blogfiction. I also have a special blogfiction planned for Earth Hour. But since I'll put it on a little before then, I guess for those who want to read it, you should print it out (on recycled paper) and read it by candlelight, or you'd defeat the point of Earth Hour.

100 more words?

Gee, I'm really straining today . . . You know what? Since I'm not overly versed in politics, I'll ask you lot: Who on Earth should (and can) be President after Obama?I honestly don't know. Mitt Romney is just a joke, and I don't see him winning. Hilary Clinton was my best bet, but apparently she's getting old, eight years after her presidential campaign, so I don't know if she's got it in her. It could just be the media exaggerating her condition, but I don't know if she even wants to run for the presidency anymore.
I would just prefer Obama continue until he drop dead, but apparently you can only be president if you don't know what you're doing. So he's getting kicked out. But I ask you:
Who will be President after Obama?

There we go, that's enough words. I hope I can do a full post for next time. Until then, I'm the Absurd Word Nerd, signing off.

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I would love to read your words.