Contextectomy

Chapeau! (Coin of king Apollodotus of Bactria)

Although James McGrath‘s blog Exploring Our Matrix looks a lot like a Lost fansite these days, I found something that was for me like a gold nugget: Word of the Day: Contextectomy. The word was coined by someone Mr McGrath calls “Jay”, but he himself is responsible for this definition:

You take a term (or a text, phrase, passage, or story), remove it not necessarily or not merely from its literary context but also from its linguistic, cultural, social and historical context, translate it into English if it isn’t in English already, and then assume it means whatever the “plain sense” of the English seems to be to you.

Of course, this is essentially a shift of metabasis, but “contextectomy” is adequate to describe on particular variant of this fallacy. Besides, by using a medical expression (an “-ectomy” is the name of the surgical removal of an organ) in a scholarly – ahem – context, people will smile, and will remember it better. So, chapeau to Jay and James McGrath.

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