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Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Stuart's Daily Word Spot: Oath

Oath: noun - a sincere assertion, often invoking a deity, as to a truth declared, or as utter commitment to future action or behaviour; making this type of declaration; a sworn declaration in a court of law; a careless declaration, usually naming a deity but with no intent of reverence, made to corroborate a statement; a casual use of the name of a deity, in assertion or imprecation; a profane or blasphemous utterance, an expletive, a curse.

‘As a profoundly sincere and passionate atheist, Mary decided to take her oath not on the Holy Book but on the life of her beloved father.’

Expressions such as:  ‘Oh, my God!’, ‘Jesus Christ!’, ‘God’s teeth!’ are all oaths, in the sense that they are used as expletives. Interestingly, expletives of a similar sort from Muslims regarding Allah are almost unheard of. This perhaps has something to do with the threat of death to any Muslim who dares profane the name of their god. And is somewhat similar to the threat of serious punishment made by the Christian church against blasphemers in the Middle Ages. Although the Christian church has never had an equivalent threat of death for such oaths, I wonder, is there any validity in the popular opinion amongst those without faith that Islam is at the same stage as Christianity was in the Middle Ages?

Pic: The sea wall at Staithes, North Yorkshire.
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