Replied to a post by rnv rnv (

@richnewman My concern is that simply avoiding a word will not banish the thought of it or its reality. To believe so is to engage in magical thinking — the likes of which are lampooned in the movie Beetlejuice, where speaking a name summons the person. There is no banishment, only suppression, and if you drive a thing underground, you can’t be sure where or how or when it will erupt again. Except you can be sure it will.

(That said, I took a quick glance at the etymology of “master” and, even though the word’s provenance predates specifically race-based slavery by maybe four or five hundred years, the idea of domination and subjugation seems to be pretty well baked into its definition, so... yes: tainted and probematic. I guess this can be another reason why I can be glad I never got a Masters degree?) //@bruce @simonwoods @johnphilpin

@rnv I seem to recall master having an etymology that went through old French and then back to classical Latin magister which means master in the sense of “teacher”. However after over 2,000 years, it’s going to shift, twist, and even break in its meanings over time. I’d be willing to bet there are easily 5-10 different definitions and shades of meaning on the word now (some even archaic), but some of which are  now problematic in how they relate to power dynamics in society. 

Of course if you want to really go crazy on historical linguistics, I recently ran across an etymology for the word Lord which was totally not what I was expecting but which is historically fascinating. 


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Chris Aldrich

I'm a biomedical and electrical engineer with interests in information theory, complexity, evolution, genetics, signal processing, IndieWeb, theoretical mathematics, and big history. I'm also a talent manager-producer-publisher in the entertainment industry with expertise in representation, distribution, finance, production, content delivery, and new media.

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