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This week's theme begins with a word I stumbled upon yesterday, one that seems to me extraordinary. Indeed, at the last minute I changed from the theme that had been planned. Please forgive any resulting roughness.

In rough terms, our theme will be words regarding a person's relationship with the society of which he or she is a part.
 
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Today's word is hard to pin down, and the sources I find conflict. The term is from Nguni or Xhosa, and appears in South African Concise Oxford Dictionary (Oxford University Press, 2002).

Zulu maxim: umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu: "I am what I am because of you."

ubuntu – in rough terms, humanity, not as an individual as defined by one's interrelationships. The South African Governmental White Paper on Welfare officially recognizes ubuntu as "The principle of caring for each other's well-being...and a spirit of mutual support …"

To explain further:
quote:
Christianity in North America and Europe tends to buy into the Enlightenment ethos of "enlightened self-interest" and "rational individualism." The individual as free agent is the starting point for thinking about society, and this of course reduces community to little more than a collection of individuals who come together out of self-interest.

[In contrast, the] underlying principle of Archbishop Tutu's Christian ethics is the African notion of "ubuntu." Ubuntu is a difficult word to translate, but it connotes community, with the understanding that it's impossible to isolate persons from community, that there's an organic relationship between all people such that when we see another, we should recognize ourselves and the God in whose image all people are made. Interdependence and reciprocity, not independence and self-sufficiency, are the keys here. As Tutu magnificently says, "A self-sufficient human being is subhuman. I have gifts that you do not have, so consequently, I am unique--you have gifts that I do not have, so you are unique. God has made us so that we will need each other. We are made for a delicate network of interdependence."
-- Kerry Walters, reviewing Reconciliation: The Ubuntu Theology of Desmond Tutu by Michael Jesse Battle and Desmond Mpilo Tutu
 
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Today's word, though familiar, takes a new resonance when one realizes in arose in a society based upon ubuntu. For its root meaning of separate-hood or apart-ness, is a direct conflict with a social vision of ubuntu.

apartheid – a condition of segregation, or a policy/practice of segregating; also, the former segregation policy of the Republic of South Africa. from Afrikaans/ Dutch

When was this coined? One fine source says 1947. Another says the first recorded use is in a 1917 speech by Jan Smuts, Prime Minister of South Africa.
 
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manuduction – careful guidance (adj. manuductory)
literally, "leading by the hand", from Latin manus hand + ducere leading

According to Hook, The Grand Panjandrum, "A good leader demonstrates manuduction. Practically, it is any act of leading or guiding, or any book, article, set of instructions, etc., that may serve as a guide." But other sources seem, in my reading, to relate the word more to the tutelage of a neophyte.
 
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syntality - the consistent and predictable behavior of a social group

"Group theorists use the term "syntality" to describe for a group what the term "personality" describes for an individual." - International Polio Network

Article: An attempt at more refined definitions of the cultural dimensions of syntality in modem nations. H. Bruel, and H. P. Hartman, American Sociological Review 17 (August 1951)

This would seem a useful term that has not entered the general vocabulary. I find it only in specialized areas such as therapy and management-dynamics.
 
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Let's take a couple of words for conflicts between the individual and the group. First, the conflicting individual:

marplot – an officious meddler whose interference compromises the success of an undertaking
After Marplot, a character in The Busy Body, a play by Susannah Centlivre (1669-1723)
quote:
Billy was a striking instance that the arch interferer, the envious marplot of Eden, still has more or less to do with every human consignment to this planet of earth. In every case, one way or another he is sure to slip in his little card, as much as to remind us – I too have a hand here.
– Herman Melville, Billy Budd, ch. 2
 
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I particularly like this thread; it is so unique. I love the word "manuduction", though I hadn't heard it before. I just recently heard a story that perfectly defines this word.

A very successful physician was offered an administrative position in another state. He wasn't sure whether he should take it. He asked his longtime mentor who said, "Of course you should take it. I will help you to succeed. Would you like me to move to that state with you?"

Now this manuductor (I am coining that word!) had a gorgeous home and family on the east coast. However, he was willing to move to the midwest to help his mentee. As it turns out, he didn't move, but he has been coming to the midwest once a month to consult with his mentee--for 5 1/2 years! That, my friends, is manuduction!
 
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quote:

Now this manuductor (I am coining that word!)...


MANUDUC'TOR, n. [L.manus,hand, and ductor, a leader.]

An officer in the ancient church, who gave the signal for the choir to sing, who beat time and regulated the music.
[from the original Webster's Smile ]
 
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MANUDUC'TOR, n. [L.manus,hand, and ductor, a leader.]

An officer in the ancient church, who gave the signal for the choir to sing, who beat time and regulated the music.


...as opposed to the choirmaster who used a baton instead of his hands? (only half - Smile)
 
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ostracize - to expel from a community or group; to cast out from social, political, or private favor

Ostracize is from Greek ostrakon, a piece of earthenware, a potsherd. Ostracism, banishment by potsherds, was practiced at Athens to get rid of a citizen whose power was considered too great for the liberty of the state. Each voter wrote on a potsherd the name of a person he wished banished. The man named on the most ostraka was exiled, normally for a period of ten years.
 
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sodality - brotherhood; community; a fellowship

Not a term familiar to me. Can anyone help with usage?
 
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I've only encountered it before in the name "Peirian Sodality," a.k.a. the Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra. The word thus goes back at least to the 1800s.

For a little bit of perspective see
http://hcs.harvard.edu/~hro/about.html
particularly the left-hand column, in white-on-black.
 
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