Cory Doctorow: Zing Coiner – Porn Coiner

Posted by jeremyclarke on June 20, 2007 · General

Porn Coiner

Maybe you got here searching for the Porn Coiner (i.e. maybe the coiner of the word porn?). Well I, Jeremy Clarke, am not the coiner of the word porn, though I like to think I’ve added to outlining various uses of the word over the years. See all posts I’ve written on the subject of porn, especially this one and this one.

Anyone looking for information about the etymology of the word ‘porn’ would do well to read the Wiktionary Defintion of porn or the Etymology and History sections of the Wikipedia article about porn:

The word derives from the Greek pornographia, which derives from the Greek words porne and pornea (“prostitute”¬† and “prostitution”) and grapho (“I write or record,” derived meaning “illustration,” cf. “graph“), and the suffix -ia (“state of,” “property of,” or “place of”), thus meaning “a written description or illustration of prostitutes or prostitution.”

So the meaning of the source words themselves is the intersection of prostitution and recording. Pornographia is a predictable composite greek word and uses the standard suffix graphia, so it could be considered an obvious linguistic construction. Despite this, its worth nothing that those who first used this word chose prostitution rather than sex as the label for the recorded activity, simultaneously labeling all works of pornography as prostitution-records and all pornographic performers as prostitutes.

In many ways this definition is no longer valid based on modern usage and law. We consider prostitution illegal in most parts of humanity, but do not consider participating in pornography to be a form of illegal prostitution. This is probably because porn-sex-workers are thought to be charging for their ‘performance’ rather than for the sexual acts themselves, and are dealing with producers rather than individuals who want sex.

Whether pornography and prostitution are fundamentally different things, or just a legal distinction created to satisfy the needs of free speech, is clearly up for debate. In the long run actual prostitution is becoming much more accepted in many societies just as porn has become widely accepted as a legal and protected freedom.

In terms of who coined the word, we have the Victorian era to thank. They needed a way to describe the sex documents they were about to outlaw.

The original article about Cory Doctorow

Bell canada hates the human bodyDespite some of his fairly obnoxious politicking and rhetorical flourishes, BoingBoing writer Cory Doctorow has to be given credit for being the best writer of mean slogans against corporations I’ve ever encountered. Today’s zinger is targeted at States-side telecom giant AT&T, but fits just as nicely with my favorite hated telco Bell Canada.

Seriously: the only day I wouldn’t piss on [Bell] is if they were on fire.

The photo above comes from this post, describing a Bell ad that made me cringe almost as much as their intentionally frustrating and extortionary customer service tactics.

The ad pictured above is promoting their anti-porn parental controls service by implying that if you care about your kids, you’d cut the genitals out of children’s anatomy books. I can try to imagine something more backwards-thinking to use as a promotional vehicle, but it’s very, very depressing.

Posted by jeremyclarke on · General

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