Thursday, July 09, 2015

Remember My Revenant?

I suggested (11 years ago) and use "revenant" as the proper term to describe Jews who have come back to repopulate Judea and Samaria, the heart of the Jewish homeland.

Jews lived in the hills of Judea and Samaria for over 3500 years, as nomads, as tribal chieftains and as kings, priests and prophets. They were dispersed once and returned. They were exiled and returned. Despite foreign conquerors, they persisted in returning under the most difficult of political, religious and economic conditions. Their civilization was created in the area as was their literature. Their three most important cities are there. 

The Torah and the New Testament use the terms Judea, Samaria and Gaza. The Quran records God’s command that the Jews should live in the Promised Land. Eighty years ago, the world recognized unabashedly and with no disagreement the right of Jews to reestablish their historic homeland as a political entity. And following a brief 19 year long hiatus, Jews are once again living there. 

This, then, may be the word we need to employ. One word, of course, does not a victory make. Terminology is never terminal. Nevertheless, a major part of Israel’s Hasbara problem, especially in the medium of the electronic media and in academic and other political forums is its lack of ability to create a neutral space for discourse. Once the term “occupied” is tossed out in any gathering, any adequate response forces the speaker to deal with eighty years of detailed history, intricacies of international law and the interpretation of this or that Convention. 

Well, NT sent me this:

revenant •  Pronunciation: re-vê-nênt
Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. Someone returning after a long absence. 2. Someone returning from the dead.

Notes: Today's Good Word is remarkable in its rarity. How commonly do we say, "Welcome, stranger" or (down South) "I haven't seen you in a coon's age" to someone we haven't seen in a long time? Well, everyone we say such things to is a revenant—especially if we thought they were dead.

This word is a lexical orphan, except it may be also be used as an adjective, as 'a revenant cousin'.

In Play: Rip Van Winkle, of course, is the most famous revenant, but then all ghosts are equally good revenants. The frequency of circumstances in which we meet revenants belies its rarity: "Family reunions are enjoyable for all the revenants you see." This word may be applied jokingly to someone who has missed work for several days: "Well, look who's decided to come to work: our old revenant, Charlie!"

Word History: Today's Good Word is another contribution by the French language. In French revenant is the present participle of revenir "to return". Revenue, that which is returned, is the feminine past participle of the same verb. This verb comprises re- "back, again" + venir "to come". Venir, believe it or not, goes back to the same source as English come: Proto-Indo-European gwe(m)- "to go, come". Greek bainein "to walk" shares the same origin.

I knew I was right, using the right word.  My right word.



Joe in Australia said...

It might be technically sort-of correct, but it's not a word that people will recognise in any context other than that of "a visible ghost or animated corpse that was believed to return from the grave to terrorize the living." That's straight from Wikipedia, but it's also the primary meaning given by the Oxford English Dictionary. Your use of the word is confusing and a barrier to understanding. If you care about informing people then you will use a different word - "returnees", perhaps?

Sara Layah said...

Consider there's a horror film of same name with an aim to finding a way to "... collect the blood that one of them so desperately needs." Your use of the word Revenant may conjure up blood libel. Always preferable to keep it simple and clear.

Sara Layah said...
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