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Wednesday, 23 May 2012

What's the mutter with that?

David Cameron has been rebuked for unparliamentary language after calling  Ed Balls a "muttering idiot".

Don't see anything wrong with that. If it is good enough for Aristotle then it is good enough for our parliament. Idiot as a word derived from the Greek ἰδιώτης, idiōtēs ("person lacking professional skill", "a private citizen", "individual"), from ἴδιος, idios ("private", "one's own").In Latin the word idiota ("ordinary person, layman") preceded the Late Latin meaning "uneducated or ignorant person." Its modern meaning and form dates back to Middle English around the year 1300, from the Old French idiote ("uneducated or ignorant person"). The related word idiocy dates to 1487 and may have been analogously modeled on the words prophet and prophecy The word has cognates in many other languages.

An idiot in Athenian democracy was someone who was characterized by self-centeredness and concerned almost exclusively with private—as opposed to public—affairs.  Idiocy was the natural state of ignorance into which all persons were born and its opposite, citizenship, was effected through formalized education.  In Athenian democracy, idiots were born and citizens were made through education (although citizenship was also largely hereditary). "Idiot" originally referred to "layman, person lacking professional skill", "person so mentally deficient as to be incapable of ordinary reasoning". Declining to take part in public life, such as democratic government of the polis (city state), was considered dishonorable.  "Idiots" were seen as having bad judgment in public and political matters. Over time, the term "idiot" shifted away from its original connotation of selfishness and came to refer to individuals with overall bad judgment–individuals who are "stupid".

According to the Bauer-Danker Lexicon, the noun ίδιωτής in ancient Greek meant "civilian", "private citizen" , "private soldier as opposed to officer," "relatively unskilled, not clever". The military connotation in Bauer's definition stems from the fact that ancient Greek armies in the time of total war mobilized all male citizens (to the age of 50) to fight, and many of these citizens tended to fight poorly and not very well.

Just like Ed Balls.

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