It is primitive

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Erbab

Senior Member
Türkçe
'Many young people and city folk do not believe in the power of whispering, while others say that it’s primitive.''

The underlined part of the sentence confuses me. When I say that whispering is primitive, do I mean that I believe in the power of whispering?

When I first read the sentence, I think that when someone says an idea is primitive, he or she does not agree with that idea. That is why I am confused.

Thanks for your help!
 
  • PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    The context is "the transcript of a an article entitled "Healing with a Whisper", which is about the claimed power to heal people by whispering in a particular way." This is "context", which you should always give.

    In this context "primitive" refers to this alleged "power" = very old, relating to pre-history; atavistic.

    I don't think that it is the most appropriate word.
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    To some people (but not most people) in the U.S., anything "primitive" is good. The quote in post #1 makes sense if written by someone who thinks this way, and is writing to convince others about it.

    The basic idea is that "primitive" things are part of "our lost knowledge": things human do naturally but no longer do because our values have been distorted by civilization.

    The "Paleolithic Diet" is very popular in recent years. Millions of books about it have been sold. The basic idea is "only eat foods that prehistoric humans ate".
     

    Erbab

    Senior Member
    Türkçe
    Thanks for your answer PaulQ. I will be more careful.

    I know what ''it'' refers to. I have read the context. However, this sentence sounds weird to me. If it were written in that form, there would not be any problem;

    ''Many young people and city folk do not believe in the power of whispering, while others say that its power is real.''

    Because when ''while'' is used like above, I think that people's ideas need to be different from each other. Saying that an idea is primitive means the same thing as saying that I do not believe in it. I wonder that whether a native speaker agrees with me.

    Edit;

    Thanks for your answer dojibear, I understand.

    It is hard to find out if ''primitive'' means something plain, simple, older and useful.

    As you said, sometimes a primitive way of doing something can be considered as a better way of doing it. So, If the sentence is written in that form, ''primitive'' needs to represent a positive approach to the idea.
     
    Last edited:

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    Saying that an idea is primitive means the same thing as saying that I do not believe in it.
    The word "primitive" does not mean "I do not believe in it", like you say.

    The word "primitive" does not mean "it is real and powerful", the way this author uses it.

    What the word "primitive" means is "the way prehistoric people did things". Even now, in a few isolated places on earth, there are "primitive tribes" that live the way all humans lived back in prehistoric times.
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    I think a little differently.

    It's this meaning of primitive in the WR dictionary:

    simple;
    unsophisticated: a primitive farm implement.
    It means all it takes to use this method is whispering, which looks too simple compared to other methods of curing. I don't think it's meant to be a positive trait, rather the opposite. Alongside with not believing in this method, it's another reason why it's "on its way out".


    For a thousand years, healers in rural Belarus have practiced whispering, but today it is on its way out. As the country’s rural population declines, so does the belief in whispering. Many young people and city folk do not believe in the power of whispering, while others say that it’s primitive.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    I agree with those who think "primitive" is negative here. VicNik gives the context, which I think proves that the whispering's being regarded as primitive by the local population is one of the reasons it's dying out. It isn't relevant that "primitive" practices may have their own attraction for jaded Westerners.

    When I say that whispering is primitive, do I mean that I believe in the power of whispering?
    We can't tell, but I would have thought that if people really believed that the whispering was effective, they wouldn't have minded that it was also primitive. It sounds as though people's thinking it primitive made them reluctant to even approach the subject. Perhaps they are afraid of it, so in some sense they may believe in such powers.
     
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