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June 20th, 2012 | Episodes
Back with more common words and expressions that people frequently get wrong, now including hyper-corrections!
Ep 55 – Expressions 3
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I think you got “quantum leap” wrong. I have definitely heard the “very large leap” interpretation, but I’ve never heard it used as a very small leap. I suppose a poet (or any rhetorician) could employ the comparison of a quantum leap for something very small, but they’d probably have to include some extra context or explanation to make the comparison clear. What “quantum” really means, and I suspect you know this, is “countable in discrete units, such as integers, not fractions”. The origin of the phrase has nothing to do with stuff being very small; it only happens to have been applied in a case where the things being described are very small.
A quantum leap in technology is not necessarily a very large leap, it is a leap (a jumping metaphor for the amount of difference between two successive technologies) without an obvious progression, or evolution, from one technology to the next.
There might be a bit of a misunderstanding with why we brought up the contronyms/antagonyms/janus words and we might not have been clear in the episode. Unlike most of the other expressions we talked about, nothing is wrong with the usage of the contronyms we brought up; they’re just interesting examples of how some words have come to have contrasting definitions depending on context.
In the case of quantum leap, the literal (and original) definition is a very small change at a subatomic level, where an electron ‘leaps’ from one energy level to another in an atom. The figurative meaning is what you mentioned, where people use it to mean a substantial and abrupt (large) change in something: a quantum leap forward in technology is something new and different, colloquially a large change. The two definitions don’t have to be mutually compatible to still mean contrasting things.
I love your podcast and listen every week.
However, while you correctly explained the proper understanding of the immaculate conception, you got your history of the “virgin birth” translation wrong.
Isaiah 7:14 says, “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall concieve, and bear a son, and shall call his name Emmanuel.”
The Hebrew word “almah” is here translated “virgin,” in almost all other but the most liberal Bible translations.
Even though “almah” can mean “young girl,” it is translated “virgin” here, because that is the only meaning that makes sense in the context. (There would be no extraordinary sign for a young [non-virgin] girl to give birth to a son.)
Supporting this translation of “almah” into “virgin” is the fact that the Septuagint is a translation of the Hebrew into Greek, done by JEWISH sages, 200 years before the birth of Jesus. In that translation, the JEWISH sages chose the specific Greek word for virgin (par-they-os) as the proper way to interpret the Hebrew “almah” in the Isaiah text.
By the way, I suggest you expand your bible knowledge beyond the writings of Bart Ehrman, who has been roundly criticized by the vast majority of modern textual critics as misrepresenting the true state of the trustworthiness and attestation of the Biblical texts.
Keep up the good work, and thanks for the podcast.
Thanks for the info. We’ll be recording a ‘Why We’re Wrong’ episode soon and hopefully have a chance to look into this and comment.
Hi Paul, thanks for the response. You raise some good points, and, in lieu of responding here, I’ll be addressing them in our next Why We’re Wrong episode in a couple of weeks.
By the way, if you have any suggestions for interesting books on biblical criticism, I’d love to hear them, I’m always looking for new reading material!
Glad to hear that been enjoying us thus far!
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