Sunday, January 23, 2011

영어 Hint of the Day #29: "Salvation" doesn't mean "Survival"

Salvation is Delivered By a God, Not a Nation

In today's Korea JoongAng Daily, this was the final sentence in this editorial regarding the upcoming North Korean-South Korean negotiation:

(x) It must be remembered that South Korea holds the key to its (North Korea's) salvation.

The point being made here is that North Korea's economy is in tatters, and as a result, desperately needs economic assistance.  However, salvation is not really the correct word here.  A more appropriate word would be survival. 

Salvation is defined as being the deliverance from the power and effects of sin. 

Survival is defined as being the act or fact of living or continuing longer than another person or thing, or the continuation of life or existence.  

The implication of the word salvation is that the one that is giving salvation is a deity, a god.  It is a word that commonly has religious overtones.  In other words, the final sentence above implies that South Korea holds the key to some sort of economic deliverance from the power and effects of sin.  Either this editorial is comparing South Korea to a god, or the choice of the word salvation is incorrect.  The correct sentence should be:

(o) It must be remembered that South Korea holds the key to its (North Korea's) economic survival.

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David said...

I think that you're reading the word "salvation" a little too narrowly. Take a look at this definition (from here:

a. Preservation or deliverance from destruction, difficulty, or evil.
b. A source, means, or cause of such preservation or deliverance.

This fits exactly the sentence in the Joongang Daily article. You can see another similar usage in the title of this post:

The Lost Seoul said...

Thanks for the comment.
I don't necessarily agree with your comment (but respect that you have an opinion). The fact is the article you refer to also has religious overtones. Look at the other words, extinction and enslavement. Those are words where one party is a owner/deity of the other. It suggests that human have that control over the fate of tigers. While that may be true in that case, if the editorial MEANT to say that South Korea has the same relationship with North Korea as humans do with the fate of tigers, then that is a pretty dangerous statement.
If it was not the intent to be, then I would still have used survival, and not attached the religious overtones to the sentence.

My main point of this post was that these two words have a slightly different implication. The fact that we are having this debate points out the fact that you cannot just flip between these two words.

Thank you for your comment, and please comment again in the future. Much appreciated.

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