Thursday, April 21, 2011

"EF," "OF," Jargon, and Making Sense

Jargon happens.

Back when I was working for a small publishing house, I might have gotten a memo that read:
"Take the VB OF to MSP, ASAP"
I'd have known that it meant:
"Take the Vocational Biographies order form to Main Street Press as soon as possible."
If you've worked this country, the odds are that you know that "ASAP" means "as soon as possible." You might even be able to guess that OF meant order form, and not "officer" (NATO), "objective force" (US Army), "owner's funds" (finance), "oxygen free," or something else. ("OF," AcronymFinder.com)

I don't think there's anything wrong with jargon, by itself. It's "a characteristic language of a particular group...," or "...specialized technical terminology characteristic of a particular subject" (Princeton's WordNet) When folks live or work together, I think it's natural to develop a sort of linguistic shorthand to deal with ideas, actions, and objects that matter to that group.

On the other hand, jargon can - intentionally or not - be used to create stronger bonds between members of a group: and exclude 'outsiders.'

That may not be a particularly good idea.

"OF?" "EF?" What's That?

I found the acronyms "OF" and "EF" in the comments of a post in another blog.1 In context, it was highly probable that "OF" and "EF" referred to something having to do with Catholicism: and fairly probable that it referred to Mass, or possibly the Sacrament of Reconciliation/Confession.

But, since I hadn't run into those acronyms - in that context - I couldn't be sure.

Encountering something about Catholicism that I'm not familiar with is, well, a familiar experience for me. I'm a convert, and missed the rich cultural heritage that many 'cradle Catholics' have.

I was a little surprised when my wife didn't know about "OF" and "EF" in connection with the Church. My next stop was my father-in-law, a Deacon serving a trio of parishes (the last I heard). He hadn't run into those acronyms either: which did surprise me a bit.

It Must be True: I Found It on the Internet?

After a longer search than I expected, I found definitions for "OF" and "EF." In an online forum. I'd have preferred a more authoritative source - but it looks like there's a reason why more 'official' resources don't include definitions for those acronyms.

I've put excerpts from that thread at the end of this post. They include a statement by someone with the screen name Rickwood, who asserted:
"I really don't think I have ever met anyone who uses "Novus Ordo" or "NO" that didn't do so in a quietly demeaning way. Someone who otherwise made it clear they had personal problems with the OF. Using either "Novus Ordo" or "NO" typically says something very specific about the user -- and it's not positive."2
Rickwood was banned, apparently, some time after writing that. Whether there's a cause-effect connection or not, I don't know.

"EF," "OF," and Me

I don't plan to use "EF," "OF," or "NO." Not regularly, anyway. Partly because of what Rickwood wrote about the terms - and what happened to him. Again, I'm not sure if he got banned because he made those remarks about "EF," "OF," "NO," and the folks who use those terms. And that's another topic.

It's more because I'm trying to communicate - and using a particular clique's jargon doesn't seem like a good way to achieve that goal.

preV2tradcath's definitions make sense in context of the comment where I encountered them: and Rickwood's assertions go a long way toward explaining why it was so hard to find 'official' definitions.

I organized what preV2tradcath wrote, and added a bit from my general knowledge of the Catholic Church. Remember, I'm "some guy with a blog." Although I make an effort to accurate statements, I do not speak for the Church.

"EF," "NO," "OF," and "TLM:" Unofficial Definitions

Tentative definitions for some 'Catholic' terms:
EF
Extraordinary Form
Sometimes called TLM
HMC
Holy Mother Church
The Roman Catholic Church
Holy See
The Vatican
NO
Novus Ordo (Latin, "New Order")
OF
Ordinary Form
Mass, celebrated in the local language
Mass, celebrated in Latin, following current instructions from the Holy See
TLM
Traditional Latin Mass
Finding out that "EF" and "OF" are (apparently) connected to folks who don't like the Second Vatican Council explained why I couldn't find the terms in resources that follow the Holy See.

Don't get me wrong: I like the Latin language. I've celebrated Mass - in Latin. That's specifically allowed by the Holy See, by the way.3 But we're not required to celebrate the Mass in Latin - even if someone who's old enough to remember 'pre-Vatican II' wants it that way.

I suspect using English, or Byelorussian, or Swahili, or whatever folks nearby understand, is allowed because the Holy See takes the Great Commission seriously. (Matthew 28:16-20)

Jesus telling us to "make disciples of all nations" thing doesn't seem to leave much room for exclusivity. And that's yet another topic.

Somewhat-related posts:
Background:

Foontnotes:

1 "Crisis in the blogosphere"
Leadkindlylight blog (April 20, 2011) (Particularly Comment by Paul Mallinder)
2 "Traditional Catholic Definition...," Catholic Answers Forums, catholic.com (August 31, 2008)
3 "On certain matters to be observed or to be avoided regarding the Most Holy Eucharist"
Committee on Divine Worship, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (April 23, 2004) (Particularly 112., Chapter V | Certain Other Matters Concerning the Eucharist: "...Priests are always and everywhere permitted to celebrate Mass in Latin." "Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, no. 36 §1; Code of Canon Law, can. 928.")

Excerpts from a discussion thread on Catholic Answers Forums, catholic.com (August 31, 2008):
"Aug 31, '08, 6:16 pm
"preV2tradcath preV2tradcath is offline
"Registering

"Join Date: February 17, 2008
"Posts: 751
"Religion: Traditional Roman Catholic
"Send a message via ICQ to preV2tradcath
"Default Re: Traditional Catholic Definition...
"Quote:
"Originally Posted by stacybks View Post
"Sorry, not to be a pest nor rude... but I'm not used to all the abbreviations and have no understanding of them...

"Could someone please water down brotherhrolf's post in dummy terms?
"HMC = Holy Mother Church
"NO = Novus Ordo, sometimes now called the OF, or Ordinary Form. It is the new Mass in the vernacular, though it can also be said in the original Latin, used in most Catholic parishes today.
"EF = Extraordinary Form, sometimes called TLM or Traditional Latin Mass. It is the Mass that was used everywhere in the Latin rite before the Second Vatican Council and the changes."
("Traditional Catholic Definition...," Catholic Answers Forums, catholic.com)
And a little later:
"Aug 31, '08, 6:42 pm
"Rickwood Rickwood is offline
"Banned

"Join Date: July 24, 2008
"Posts: 458
"Default Re: Traditional Catholic Definition...
"Quote:
"Originally Posted by preV2tradcath View Post
"HMC = Holy Mother Church
"NO = Novus Ordo, sometimes now called the OF, or Ordinary Form. It is the new Mass in the vernacular, though it can also be said in the original Latin, used in most Catholic parishes today.
"EF = Extraordinary Form, sometimes called TLM or Traditional Latin Mass. It is the Mass that was used everywhere in the Latin rite before the Second Vatican Council and the changes.
" 'Novus Ordo' and especially 'NO' are pejorative slurs at this point in history. The Church certainly doesn't commonly refer to the Mass of Paul XI as either the "Novus Ordo" or the "NO" Mass. I think if one did some digging one could unearth 1-2 official documents in total that used "Novus Ordo" and that's it.
"I really don't think I have ever met anyone who uses "Novus Ordo" or "NO" that didn't do so in a quietly demeaning way. Someone who otherwise made it clear they had personal problems with the OF. Using either "Novus Ordo" or "NO" typically says something very specific about the user -- and it's not positive."
("Traditional Catholic Definition...," Catholic Answers Forums, catholic.com)

3 comments:

Brigid said...

I think there's a word missing: "Finding out that "EF" and "OF" are (apparently) connected folks"

The Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader

Brigid said...

P.S. There is no first footnote.

The Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader

Brian Gill said...

Brigid,

Yeah: The footnotes got a trifle scrambled during editing. I *think* I've sorted that lot out.

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