Lemkinise (verb) !!

Creating neologisms can change the world. For years, Raphael Lemkin (1900–1959) had tried unsuccessfully to draw the world’s attention to the military excesses of certain nations. Although many were slightly sympathetic to his cause they were sceptical of his case because they thought he was exaggerating what was merely a pacifist argument. The fact that he was a Jew enabled critics to interpret his complaints as a form of paranoia. A Polish law scholar, Lemkin designed a new term by combining the Greek word ‘genos’ (family, tribe or race) and the Latin word ‘occidere’ (to massacre). Once his word was made public, many people began to use it. He was then able to convince the Geneva Conventions (1943) to include it within a new international law. Although his definition was quite narrow, today the term is in common use. It means that we can recognise 'genocidal' actions and intents where, previously, they had not been recognised.

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Page last modified on Thursday 15 of June, 2006 08:51:56 BST by JohnWood.