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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Here we go again...vocab question

   
Author Topic: Here we go again...vocab question
Silver3
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I have a story in which four people have different beliefs from the established religion (but not the inclination to spread them, at least not yet). Trouble is, I called them a "sect", but I have this sinking feeling that a sect implies a whole lot of people than just four.

Is that feeling accurate, and if it is, can anybody think of a proper way to call them?

The setting is Aztec, so too-modern vocabulary is out.

Thanks in advance!


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HSO
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A sect can be four people, sure. It could probably be only two people, as that should be enough to qualify as a group. You could also use "faction" or "band" I suppose. But sect is all right by me. It's probably the most accurate word, really.

Yet sect has a growing negative connotation these days, especially in the media, but don't let that stop you from using it.


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Silver3
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Well, I wasn't planning on using it in a positive way, since those four happen to be the antagonists
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HSO
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Thinking further about it, what does this sect call itself? For you could use that instead of sect, and it would likely not mean sect at all, I'd think...
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Novice
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For me, the word "sect" has primarily Christian connotations. I doubt the strict definition makes such a distinction, and I don't know how many people would agree with me. Could you use "dissidents," or the earlier suggestion of "faction"?

I'm interested in your story already. It's always been my understanding that the Aztec culture had zero tolerance for defiance, and working within that restriction will take a delicate touch.


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djvdakota
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Sect feel 'big' to me. It feels more official than a small group of dissidents.

How about splinter group? Study group? Nay-sayers? Zealots? Some other name that identifies this group in particular?


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Ray
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Webster's definition of sect: 1 a : a dissenting or schismatic religious body; especially : one regarded as extreme or heretical b : a religious denomination

I never thought sect was limited to Christianity. There are various branches in Islam and Buddhist religions, and undoubtedly more faiths, and sect applies to each of these separate bodies.

The word sect applies in your case. If there are even two people who have the same beliefs, they can legitimately call themselves a church.

[This message has been edited by Ray (edited May 17, 2006).]


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hoptoad
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My gut tells me that a sect is a smaller group within a larger one --- like a section. One that isolates or distinguishes itself from the larger group for whatever reason. I am supposing it doesn't have to be used that way though.


For instance Christianity is not a 'sect' but Catholicism, Anglicanism and Methodism are. HOWEVER you can have a 'sect' within Catholicism or within Anglicanism etc etc ad nauseum until you get down to as small a group as two people, I suppose. So if your group have broken away from a larger one, then you're fine but if they have started originetd something, then you're not okay.

BUT, it sounds like you are talking more about a 'cabal', which, more or less, means a secret group with hidden motivations that meets clandestinely to advance their plans. It comes from the word 'qabbalah' so has a quasi-religious or quasi-illuminati ring to it.

[This message has been edited by hoptoad (edited May 18, 2006).]


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trousercuit
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Who exactly calls them a "sect" in your story?

It might be appropriate for them to call themselves a "sect" if they believe it will grow or think a lot of people are already de facto members but don't know it yet.

They definitely wouldn't call themselves a "cabal." That's just silly. Someone else might, though.

Whose voice are you using when you call them a "sect?"


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Silver3
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Thanks everyone! I'm not really keen on calling them a cabal, though it does fit what they are doing. I don't know, this sounds weird to me in an Aztec contest (and reminds me a little too much of Christianity).

trousercuit, the people who call them "a sect" are the people who oppose them. And at the point in the story when the word first appears, the opponents don't know the name of the sect. They just know that they're members of a dissident group.


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Kickle
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How about separtist?
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hoptoad
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Yes, if you're wondering... I totally missed the Aztec reference.

If it is a dissident group operating within another and causing problems, wouldn't the larger group consider them more a seditious conspiracy rather than an emerging 'sect? Sect lends a sense of legitimacy to the movement, an impression, I think, the established group try to avoid giving.

Now back to writing my new book, Being an Idiot for Dummies


What word would you use in French?

[This message has been edited by hoptoad (edited May 18, 2006).]


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Silver3
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I have no idea what word I'd use in French, more's the pity (I have an excellent French-English dictionary. Maybe if I try Spanish )...

Kickle, I don't think they're separatists, per se. My fault, I haven't been clear enough. Basically, they're four people who worship a particular god, and work in secret to summon monsters into the city. I suppose hoptoad's "cabal" is the closest to it, except for the strong Judeo-Christian overtones of that word.


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pooka
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If they are antagonists, "cult" could work for a group of four. I think of a sect as a group large enough or serious enough that the main body has to acknowledge them. They could also be a brotherhood.
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Survivor
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Cabal is good as long as there is a perception that these people have some kind of exclusive group and are keeping secrets. Even if they don't keep the membership of their group secret, if they appear to be doing something in secret the term could be applied.

If they are more open in their dissenting views, and simply happen to agree with each other, then it would make more sense to simply refer to them as "X" heritics/dissenters, with "X" being the key feature of their disagreement with the mainstream.

If they are not associating with each other and aren't open about their disagreement with the mainstream, then I don't see how anyone else would know about them, or even how any of them would know about the others. In that case they wouldn't be called anything.


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Silver3
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Oh, they definitely are a group, and want to keep their activities secret. Sigh. I may have to go for "cabal". Or maybe "cult".

Thanks everyone!


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wbriggs
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I don't care what you call them, but I'll want to read this story when it's done.
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Silver3
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It's almost done Just a first scene rewrite and we're good to go (for crits), methinks.
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Beth
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I think the key here is the voice. Their opponents might call them a "cult" or a "cabal" because of the negative overtones; they probably wouldn't call them a "sect".

but it seems to me that they're most likely to call them something less formal and precise.

"Ixylotxyslox! The cultish sect has sent their army of evil robot monkeys to destroy us!"

vs

"Ixylotxyslox! Those freakin' nutjobs have sent their army of evil robot monkeys to destroy us!"


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Silver3
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Mum, but the sect isn't attacking, so everybody is staying reasonable (at least at the start ) Afterwards we may get into "nutjob" category...
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Beth
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ha, the lack of attacking nutjobs hints at some plot problems. Maybe you should discuss this with Mr. Writing Person.

Wait, I bet no one in your story even has a heroin addiction.


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Silver3
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ha, no. I could throw in some addictions to hallucinatory mushrooms, though
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trousercuit
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I'm glad you're all taking my lessons about plotting to heart. (Hey! Plotting within plotting! That's deep.) I'm especially glad to see the name "Ixylotxyslox" as it adds a little mystery to the story.
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hoptoad
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Even if cabal is the most accurate word, it does not seem to be the right word. You know: lightning versus lightning bug...

hmmm

Probably better-off referring to them as a 'secret society'.

[This message has been edited by hoptoad (edited May 18, 2006).]


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Silver3
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Isn't "secret society" too big? I get this picture of lots and lots of people secretly meeting in shabby inns...
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Robert Nowall
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If there are only four people in this group, how about calling it a "conspiracy?"
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tchernabyelo
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I'd stick with "cabal". "Faction" is possible but, like sect, might imply a larger number. "Cabal" definnitely implies a small, secretive group with its own agenda.
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RCSHIELDS
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Is it possible these four are simply criminals or heretics?

[This message has been edited by RCSHIELDS (edited May 22, 2006).]


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trousercuit
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I like "heretics."

I'd also go for "jerks" or "dorkwads."


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pooka
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Free association on "cabal" (which I agree is a great word for this).

"How about a round of drinks for my sweet team of superfriends?"

T.E.A.M. = Together Everone [is] Addicted [to] Mushrooms.

Though any pothead will tell you that Mushrooms are not addictive.

[This message has been edited by pooka (edited May 22, 2006).]


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Survivor
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Together Everyone Abandons Me. Okay, so I'm not a team player. But, as the above expansion of the acronym explains, that's not my fault.
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hoptoad
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Tubercular Expectoration As Metaphor

[This message has been edited by hoptoad (edited May 23, 2006).]


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trousercuit
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Trousercuit Expects A Muffin?

Tantrums Elevate A Man?

T.E.A.M. Eats Anchovies in the Millions?

Torture, Excruciate, Apply Mutagen?

What was this all about, again?


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hoptoad
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Two words with the same origin:

'Coven', may describe this group. So too might 'covenanters,' depending on the spin and POV you want.

Thing about 'coven' is that, according to tradition, it a small group led by a demon or spirit...

Trousercruit's Esprit Amply Manifest

[This message has been edited by hoptoad (edited May 23, 2006).]


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Survivor
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Oh, right. Coven is perfect. For the story, and for the concept being discussed.
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trousercuit
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"Coven" makes me think of nuns.

That could be wicked cool, especially if they dress like nuns to hide in public.


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hoptoad
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Well 'convent' comes from the same origins too.

Nun's with guns.


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Survivor
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Nuns?

Whatever. But in Silver3's story, the religion is magical (that is, it involves the use of ritual to summon and even compel supernatural entities). So "coven" is a perfect word for a small group cut off from the mainstream.


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Silver3
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"Compel" supernatural entities? Boy, would I like to see them try

But yeah, I should probably consider "coven". Thanks!


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