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Thread: Vandals and Vandalism

  1. #1
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    Vandals and Vandalism

    Vandal has two meanings:

    1. One who willfully or maliciously defaces or destroys public or private property.

    2. A member of a Germanic people that overran Gaul, Spain, and northern Africa in the fourth and fifth centuries A.D. and sacked Rome in 455.

    What's your opinion about using it in the first meaning, pejorative? Do most people who use words like vandal and vandalism know where they come from, that they were about a Germanic tribe?

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    Considering how ignorant the average person is, not even knowing what Germanic is, let alone Vandal... my bet is on they probably use a word they have no clue about.

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    Hmm, I've to say, even though I know the Germanic meaning of this word, I find myself using it unintentionally. Because it has become a widely used word from the people's vocabulary.

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    The destruction caused by Vandal warfare was not particularly severe, unusual or senseless, which is why I think the metaphor should already be rejected on factual grounds.

    Conversely, the persons that are labeled this way can hardly be said to measure up to Vandals of ancient times. This can be compared to the secondary use of the term "Goth".

    I suspect that most people using the term "Vandalism" are either Wiki users or individuals with a classical education, which often leads to an unreasonable identification with ancient Rome and its goals. Among the latter group, there is sometimes an awareness of the inaccuracy of the term, but no inclination to discontinue its usage.

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    I know where the term "vandalism" comes from but the average person in America does not. It is commonly used in the US by everyone & predates Wiki. I'm not worried about offending the descendents of the Vandals, I recall they ended up in North Africa & they eventually mixed with the people we now call Algerians & Tunisians.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Siebenbürgerin View Post
    Hmm, I've to say, even though I know the Germanic meaning of this word, I find myself using it unintentionally. Because it has become a widely used word from the people's vocabulary.
    Same for me...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Æmeric View Post
    I know where the term "vandalism" comes from but the average person in America does not. It is commonly used in the US by everyone & predates Wiki. I'm not worried about offending the descendents of the Vandals, I recall they ended up in North Africa & they eventually mixed with the people we now call Algerians & Tunisians.
    Among the Berber people of North Africa, some people are very white in appearance, even sometimes with curly light colored hair and blue eyes, although it does tend to be relatively rare. I like to think they are the descendants of these Vandals who ruled the region for the small period prior to the islamic-arab invasion.


    As for the question of the usage of the term "vandal" for a "delinquent".. its similar to the term "barbarian" as we all know originally meant those who are not greek, which is hardly the definition most people imply when using the term. I don't really think there is a reason to be offended by the new usage of these words, but it is a shame that most people today aren't aware of what Vandals really were.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Æmeric View Post
    I know where the term "vandalism" comes from but the average person in America does not. It is commonly used in the US by everyone & predates Wiki. I'm not worried about offending the descendents of the Vandals, I recall they ended up in North Africa & they eventually mixed with the people we now call Algerians & Tunisians.
    You certainly are correct. That is a good example of some of the moronic bull sh**, that the American people are made unaware of in school. I admit that I was unaware of the actual origins of the words "Vandalism" & Vandal", until' the 10th grade. And my World history teacher, who was more intelligent, educated, and adventurous than most from my high school, recited this information to the class, without using the watered down history and English text books.

    Vandal was a Germanic people belonging to the family of East Germans. The term “Vandilii” is used by Tacitus in his Germania. They settled between the Elbe and Vistula. At the time of the Marcomannic War (166-81 AD) they lived in what is now Silesia. During the 3rd century when the Roman Empire was in crisis with many powerful enemies at their borders, the Vandals and their ally Sarmatians did invade the Roman territory along upper Rhine river in AD 270. About AD 271 AD the Roman Emperor Aurelian was obliged to protect the middle course of the Danube against them. In AD 330 they were granted lands in Pannonia on the right bank of the Danube by Constantine the Great. Vandals accepted Arian Christianity during the reign of Emperor Valens in the AD 360’s. Before this, there is mention of two branches of the Vandal Confederacy: the Siling Vandals in the northwest and the Asding Vandals in the south.

    Retrieved From:http://www.roman-empire.net/articles/article-016.html
    Historically, vandalism has been justified by painter Gustave Courbet as destruction of monuments symbolizing "war and conquest". Therefore, it is often done as an expression of contempt, creativity, or both. Like other similar terms (Barbarian/barbary, and Philistine), the term Vandal was originally an ethnic slur referring to the Vandals, who under Geiseric sacked Rome in 455. The Vandals, like the Philistines, no longer exist as an identifiable ethnic group. The term in its modern acceptance was coined in January 1794 during the French Revolution, by Henri Grégoire, constitutional bishop of Blois, in his report directed to the Republican Convention, where he used word Vandalisme to describe some aspects of the behaviour of the republican army. Gustave Courbet's attempt, during the 1871 Paris Commune, to dismantle the Vendôme column, a symbol of the past Napoleon III authoritarian Empire, was one of the most celebrated events of vandalism. Nietzsche himself would meditate after the Commune on the "fight against culture", taking as example the intentional burning of the Tuileries Palace on May 23, 1871.

    Retrieved From:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vandalism

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    Quote Originally Posted by Siebenbürgerin View Post
    Hmm, I've to say, even though I know the Germanic meaning of this word, I find myself using it unintentionally. Because it has become a widely used word from the people's vocabulary.
    Siebenbürgen! Another adventurous tale of germans wandering far away from home. And you have survived till now? Would have thought you were chased away or slaughtered at the end of WWII.

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    I am well aware of the historical orgins of "vandalism", and although I agree it is perjorative, I think it is quite impressive that these ancient ancestors of our folk so thoroughly shocked the world when they conquered Rome that we are still referring to them today, nearly 16 centuries later. Few other people have so indelibly left their mark on western civilization.

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