Are there collective, sweeping official terms that comprise linguistic traps such as these?

1 Answer 1


I don't know of a single term for these fallacies. But I agree that they are related and would benefit from an umbrella term to make it easier to point people to the profoundly problematic nature of these.

I would call them examples of linguistic essentialism - the belief (and often fervent faith and feeling) that there is something fundamental in the historical roots of language that we can access by uncovering the historical roots - or in other words, that words and expressions have a fundamental essence that always leaves a trace. It is a species of extreme philosophical realism. But as a trope, it is extremely popular with philosophers in the phenomenological tradition. Of course, it is a common ailment of the commentariat.

Another possible term could be naive etymologism since they are predicated on the myth of the primacy of the history of language. They are also related to prescriptivist and purist tendencies.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.