Wednesday, May 03, 2006

A New Trend in Bags: Sacks

Presented here is an edited, expanded and revised version of the paper "The Inherit Prejudice of the Bags/Sacks Dichotomy: A Socio-Linguistic Study”, which was first read at the ninth annual meeting of the Southern Society of Cognitive Linguists. The author has kindly provided this edition for decimation on Bag-Trends, and we are pleased to present this article, which we agree addresses timely issues concerning not only the field of bag theory, but the entire bag world. [the editors of Bag-Trends]

In recent years it has come to my attention that there is an important dichotomy that is threatening to divide the continental United States into warring factions. I believe this is an appropriate forum to launch a campaign to raise awareness of this vital issue. What concerns me is the culture war that looms on the horizon pertaining to the name used to pick out partially-enclosed, flexible containers for the storage and transportation of goods. While some nouns fitting portions of this description may include baskets, boxes, and pockets, the specific terms I wish to deal with today are bags and sacks.

As one moves west across United States from the east, many mannerisms, terrains, choice in foot-wear, and language utilization noticeably change. This has been a constant source of strife over the past four hundred years of this countries development. Due to the fact of population dispersal there have been many perspectives taken on the spread of culture and its impact on those who bring the culture and those to which new ideas, trends and bad habits are proselytized. It is a fact of human nature that no person wishes to admit to be on the receiving end of good news; therefore response-biases are created to cope with such a fact. (Overmeyer 529) It is from these response-biases that feelings of malevolence and wrath are observed to emerge.

Whether this malice is identified by the subject in its earlier stages is the subject of intense debate. (See Murry Gardner’s "The Emergence of Hatred from Response-Bias Variables" and Jockhom & Stevens "Hatred is Knowledge: a Response to Murry Gardner" in Midwestern Logio-Psychial Mindset vols. XXVII and XXVIII, respectively.) However, all cognitive scientists agree that in the final stages the stimulus results in over-anxiety, loss of bladder control and inability to produce a piercing whistle. If the immediate reactions were not detrimental enough, it is obvious that these final effects are enough to ostracize one from any-sized community (ostrich or otherwise).

In order to relieve ones mind of these grotesque final results, often the situation is alleviated by focusing attention to the perceived “factors” and “perpetrators”. (I have taken these terms, along with much of this preliminary research from Weldnor Grymn’s classic Euro-Prussian, book-length survey, Gegen├╝berliegende Seiten eines einseitigen Spektrums.) In the current situation under examination, the term “sack” is identified as the factor, while the immediate perpetrators are identified as loafer-wearing, eastern blue-state yuppies. This identifies many underlying, pre-conceived notions that although functioning as important factors, will have to be set aside to allow for the narrowing of this current study.

Even based upon these factors, it is still not entirely clear why the bag/sack dichotomy is such a volatile issue in America today. However, I believe that with a further examination into the etymological and linguistic roots of these terms it becomes quite clear why this issue has been so controversial throughout history. The word “sack”, as a noun, may be traced back to the ancient Hebrew “saq”, which named bags, sacks, and sackcloth. (Oxford English Dictionary) This term was later adopted into Latin, with the term being narrowed to the second use only. “Bag”, on the other hand, originated much later (as a noun) as the Middle English “bagge”, which may be a form of the Old Norse “baggi”, meaning “bag, pack or bundle”. (Ibid.)

These etymological roots, along with a punitive understanding of cultural seismology will lead one to the clear conclusion that the Jewish roots of “sack” are one of the primary reasons for its being shunned. Throughout history, anti-Semitic forces have attempted to eradicate all traces of the Jewish peoples and their culture. One, for example was, William Shakespeare, who in all his plays and poetry never uses “sack” once, although he frequently utilizes “bag”. (Terione, Word Frequency in Shakespeare) In conjunction with its Hebraic roots, throughout history there have been movements, many of a successful nature, to establish “vulgar” connotations of the word “sack”. An example comes from the classical Roman period, where use of “sack” frequently referred “to the punishment of drowning in a sack… the punishment (awarded in ancient Rome to a parricide) of being sewn in a sack and drowned.” (OED)

Other historical uses of the word “sack” in a vulgar sense include the use (by the Norse, interestingly enough) of “sack” to refer to the act of routing or pillaging. In more modern uses “sack” has come to mean “to dismiss from employment or office”, which finds its roots in British culture. This meaning has also been transferred to mean “to discard, turn off (a lover)” and therefore “to get the sack” is “to receive one's dismissal”. Also, to “buy a cat in the sack” is to buy an article without first inspecting it, which is derived from the French “acheter chat en sac”, and “se couvrir d'un sac mouill├ę” or “to cover oneself with a wet sack” which means to make vain excuses. In the United States, “to hold the sack” is to “be saddled with an unwelcome responsibility”. “Sack” has not even escaped vulgar use in the realm of sports. In baseball, the “sack” references a base, which is trod upon and may even be legally stolen. In American football, a “sack” is “an act or occasion of tackling a quarter-back behind the scrimmage line before he can make a pass”. (Ibid.)

“Bag”, on the other hand, aside from its most common use to denote “a receptacle made of some flexible material closed in on all sides except at the top”, carries such positive meanings as “a preoccupation, mode of behavior or experience; a distinctive style or category” or the phrase “in the bag” which means to have something under control or as a part of situations one is familiar or comfortable with. This great discrepancy in denotations and connotations is certainly the work of those who wish to keep Jewish culture from flourishing in any part of the world. Therefore, it is of vital import that the term “sack” be assimilated into all cultures and languages, for it is an important cultural alternative to the over-used “bag”.

This concept was proposed to the World Council on Linguistic Affairs at their annual conference in Brussels on 21 May, 1962 by the Zambian-born Jewish scholar Etmund Ereli. (Minutes of the WCLA, Saroon Te-Swe, secretary) Although most in attendance agreed that some action was necessary, the idea was lost in the political clashes of the sixties. In America in the mid-eighties, however, with nothing else to concern themselves, a group rose up and declared war on the word “bag”. This group was led by WCLA member and former professor of New Testament Hermeneutics at Gould College, John Paffrey. Paffrey’s goal was the acceptance of “sack” into the American dialect. His revolution spread throughout the east like wildfire, thanks widely in part to articles and essays published in the New York Times Book Review, Atlantic Monthly and the Yale Review. While the revolution of “sack” spread throughout the east coast, it was very slow making its way inland.

As of writing, “sack” seems to have made it as far as Columbus, Ohio in the past ten intervening years. Linguistic prognosticators have it reaching the Indiana line before 2010, and, if a suitable movement might be primed on the west coast, America should be in the “sack” by within the next twenty years. These statistics are rough figures, and will certainly vary according to the amount of backlash that is met as “sack” continues to make its move across the county. It is for this reason in particular that I believe the above figures are overly optimistic.

As “sack” has made its move west, it has encountered more and more opposition, which has slowed its progress considerably as it attempts to progress. In my calculations, for every one hundred miles a new concept or idea must pass and break-down a response-bias, the time between introduction and acceptance increases by .12%. Calculated exponentially, particularly if the prospect of a two front attack is ruled out, the amount of time this change will take is staggering. Thus, it is important, if this task is to be succeeded, to not only have individuals who are committed now, but who are committed to the promotion of “sack” into the far future as well.

In conclusion, based upon the results of response-bias, and the negative connotations typically connected with “sack”, it may be safely predicted the acceptance of “sack” into a holistic American vocabulary will face a long, uncertain future. However, this also means that it will provide an excellent study in overcoming response-bias and movement towards a broader, more culturally-rich language. In the meanwhile, however, besides passively examining the effects of this cultural shift, let us also become involved in the change. There is much work to be done, and much profit to be gained.


Anonymous said...

You are asshole.

jonny said...

pamela, please to be learning accepted forms of english grammatical structures before posting your comments on our superior website.

also, your fall 2006 it list sucks.

always bag-a-licious,


Liza said...

Hello bagleys.

I am glad you are so concerned with bags, there has been a lack of sufficient concern for some time now.

I will be linking this page for all things bag from my own.

Fondest regards,

Ryan 1 said...

This is an excellent exposition of the anti-Semitic nature of bags. However, I believe the argument for positive connatations of the word 'bag' appeals to selective evidence. Bag can also be a slightly more positive way to refer to a person as a bitch, which is still very negative. Also, homeless women are often pejoratively referred to as bag-ladies.

While bag still carries more positive connotations than sack, an acknowledgement of the negative connotations must be recognized. Ultimately I do agree with the value of sack over bag.

Jeff BBz said...

While I can understand your concerns, I have to agree with Ryan in is arguement over your selective evidence, adding "cat out of the bag" as yet another. However, I do disagree with Ryan in his statement that sack has value over bag. They are equal in nature and use. However, It is quite clear that Bag has a far superior Aesthetic value, in tone and quality as well as form. That this issue was not raised shows a limited scope of argument. Lastly I might add, that as per Isabelle Lamont's Proposed Bag theory of March 2002, "Bag= Marvin lemmas"

As the following proof shows, while the component term "sack" might have equal value in the realm of containing/carrying, it does not reach the same level of scientific perfection as the bag or the "marvin lemmas."

Bag = Marvin_lemmas +

'a bag = "('a * nat) set"

bag_elems :: "'a bag => 'a set"
add_elem_bag :: "['a, nat, 'a bag] => 'a bag"
bag_union :: "['a bag, 'a bag] => 'a bag"

bag_elems_def "bag_elems B == (UN x:B. {fst x})"

add_elem_bag "add_elem_bag e n B == UN y: B . ({x. fst y = e & x = (e, n + (snd y))} Un {x. fst y ~= e & x = y}) "

(* bag_union_def "bag_union B1 B2 == (UN y: B1. (add_elem_bag (fst y) (snd y) B2))" *)
bag_union_def "bag_union A B = ((if A = insert (x,n) C
then (add_elem_bag x n (bag_union C B))
else B))"

(Theorm and Proof thanks to: