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Etymology of "modern" dreams

They say: people around the world only recently started using the word "dream" in the sense of "ideal" "hope" "future" or "aspiration..." and not until the first half of the 20th century.

I mean, all the words that is translated to an English word "dream(s)," i.e., for example, a Chinese/Japanese character for it (pronouced "yume" in Japanese, as in Kurosawa's movie), has exactly the same meaning and the same usage (they began saying that word to mean "hope for the future" only after 1900's.)

But do you know "WHO" started this movement? and "WHEN" in "WHICH" language... in English "dream" or something else?
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aminase
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aminase
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9 Solutions
 
PaulCaswellCommented:
Hi aminase,

Here's a good reference.

http://www.rs.noda.sut.ac.jp/~oda-t/dream.htm

Paul
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aminaseAuthor Commented:
Paul, thank you for your info but the reference you gave me doesn't give any answer to the question (you found a Japanese scholar's site on English etymology and you present that's the one?... is it any more legitimate than someone else's from Oxford?).

My question was, when and what population started to express their high hopes and visions in the word "dream" in the sense we use today. And now Japanese citizens can interpret the word in the same way, and so do many other populations... in their own language. That's phenomenal.
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PaulCaswellCommented:
I agree that it is amazing but in the modern world where communication is so easy, many ideas (I think the keyword 'meme' is relevent here) move so fast it seems almost instant for ideas to move from culture to culture.

Sorry my reference was unhelpful.

Paul
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aminaseAuthor Commented:
Yes, thanks to Paul, we understand that transmission of ideas in today's society and "meme complexes(?)" of the people who receive such information in general can explain why the concept and meaning of particular word has spreaded so quickly throughout the world.

But if the alternative meaning of "dream" was originated some decades ago (if not a hundred or thousand years) when people didn't have the Internet or TV, email or fax, or any other means of communication between cultures except trading on ships or horses or camels, then was it just a coincidence or a result of natural selection?

Or whatever the reason was, where (if not from whom) did such connotation of the word "dream" come out?
I started feeling it sounds silly, but since I asked for it, I'd stick to this: when, where or who?

Andy
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Infinity08Commented:
Let me get something straight. you're talking about the use of the same word for two meanings :

1) the process in which the mind (re-)organises the information gathered during the day while sleeping
2) something that you would very much like (to happen, to have, ...)

Here's a few comments :

1) I don't know if all (major) languages use the same word for these meanings, but I wouldn't be surprised.

2) The two meanings are very close together, since both are a way of the mind to express how it sees the past (what happened during the day) and the future (what it would like to happen), so it's not weird that the same word is used to express these 2 concepts.

3) If I'm not mistaken, the original meaning of the word dream was more in the sense of extase (don't know if this is a correct word in English), or vision if you wish ... ie. a dream (the kind you have at night, or sometimes during the day) was seen as a sign of things to come. Shamans were especially good in that respect :) Again not very far from the second meaning of the word.

I hadn't heard of the "shift" you refer to, but you'd awakened my interest :) Waiting eagerly for further comments ...
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aminaseAuthor Commented:
Maybe I've gone a little too far: it might not be a kind of any cultural or stylistic "shift" that we see in the "second meaning" of the word "dream" (something that we would like to materialize or manifest in some way). It may not be so dramatic. But I'd like to see at least what initiated a daily (or worldly) use of the word in rather practical sense than in the sense of "extase" (because I could say it's "my dream" to see my kid pass this semester!).

It's not surprising to me if a variety of people and languages developed or adopted the same meaning and usage over time... that could be a kind of "convergent (if not congruent) evolution" in the minds of human beings. But I just don't know why and how that was possible.

I'm still curious about the origin of such minds... in which part of the world, what language, or what phenomenon that we can find our common root of particular meaning and usage of "dream," because this word speaks for itself of what's universal and the word possesses univocal concepts or ideas, unlike many other words that could be so "lost in translation."

Andy
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Infinity08Commented:
Not really an answer to your question, but my view on the "origin" of this new meaning of the word "dream" : as said earlier (and if i'm not mistaken), the word originally had a connotation of vision, maybe even prophecy. Since "lately" the world is getting more and more civilised, and science is starting to explain a lot of things, we no longer really need prophecies (or no longer really believe in them), so the meaning of "dream" shifted towards a desire rather than a premonition, because it better fits the "modern" view of the world and our mind.
On the other hand, since science got to know more about the how and why of dreams, the first meaning I mentioned earlier was attached to it, to explain it a bit more scientifically.

So, in short : in my opinion, it's a natural evolution based on a civilization's progress in the domain of science.

I think (and maybe that's interesting to verify) that if you would look at the language of a lesser advanced people, there'll still be the old meaning of the word dream (prophecy), and not the new ... although that could be attributed to the lack of communication means with the rest of the world too ...
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aminaseAuthor Commented:
Infinity08: "it's a natural evolution based on a civilization's progress in the domain of science."

Wow, what a pleasure to have such a definitive remark... I could believe this without a proof.

Just in case... is there any support to this opinion?
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Infinity08Commented:
No, not really ... other than the facts i described in my last post, the rest was just conjecture on my part. That's why I said it's not really an answer to your question.

I am still interested in other people's opinions on this though ... interested to know if anyone shares my analysis :)
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WwysdomCommented:
I guess the most famous usage of the word 'dream' in the sense of 'vision for the future' would be Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech on August 28 1963. But it probably is not the first to use 'dream' in that sense.

There's also Eleanor Roosevelt's quote:
"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams"

"All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them." -Walt Disney

"I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past." -Thomas Jefferson

"Some men see things as they are and ask "Why?" I dream of things that never were and ask "Why not?" " -J. F. Kennedy

“If you can imagine it, you can achieve it; if you can dream it, you can become it.” - William Arthur Ward

"A man is not old until his regrets take the place of his dreams. " - Yiddish Proverb

"Hope is the dream of the waking. " - Danish Proverb

"Like plants in mines, which never saw the sun, But dream of him, and guess where he may be, And do the best to climb, and get to him. " - Robert Browning

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catchthe trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." - Mark Twain

There may be many more, just listing a few
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aminaseAuthor Commented:
Hmmm, it looks like the evolution of great human minds in the 18th-20th centuries, and not only in America.

I just guessed a phrase "dream come true" can be the "meme-complex" of this particular use of the word? Walt Disney could take credit for that?

This is great. I dream of more and more to come... until we find certain mutually supportive, or symbiotic(?), relationship between the social or cultural usages of this term.
Thank you, Wwysdom.
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Aramis11Commented:
>>  i.e., for example, a Chinese/Japanese character...

Was this actually intended to say, "that is, for example, ...", or was it meant to be an illiteracy promotion attempting to redefine i.e. to the polar opposite of what it really does mean (Latin /id est/*)?  

[Wwysdom already absconded with the Martin Luther King Jr. 'answer' that slow Aramis was going to post, but this part really could use clarification.]

*/_ / = fake italics
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WwysdomCommented:
Sorry, slow Aramis, I eloped with the answer to your (day)dreams...

I guess the real origin of using 'dream' to express the vision or hope for the future, would have begun a much longer time ago, when the phrase 'daydream' was first 'invented'.
It clearly distinguishes between unconcious dreaming during your sleep, and the concious dreaming when awake.

Now, if only somebody could find the founding father/mother of modern daydreams...

Also, aborigines, native Americans, and other indigenous people, may be the first to have such dreams (visions). As they often induce themselves into concious dream states using music (or drugs), and they see something of the future. Thus you can be sure that these 'dreams' may be popularised in the 19th - 20th century, but the idea has been around since prehistory.

Another popular use of this expression would have appeared around the globe around the 18th - 19th century, when people from around the world travelled west to fulfil their 'Great American Dream'.

To end off, I'll quote the lyrics from "The Puppy Song"

"Dreams are nothing but wishes, and a wish is just a dream..." - Harry Nilsson
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aminaseAuthor Commented:
Aramis, what I know as "i.e." is "that is" and nothing else. Is there anything wrong? Bad hair? I always do.

Andy
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Aramis11Commented:
Sorry, it just sounded odd to be saying "that is, for example", but not really wrong.  A. has become edgy about this, not from having bad hair but from observing an alarming trend in patently wrong usage such as official letters from high-level managers, such as, "For a log-in name use your E-Mail address, i.e., Myemail@ignoramus.gov", as if every user's address were the same fictional thing.  This monkey-read, monkey-write trend has become rampant in this realm.  Thanks for the clarification [hair looks all right from this end].
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aminaseAuthor Commented:
Thank you all! I decided to close this thread before anything bad happens on 6-6-6 (you gotta be kidding!).
I wanted to accept both answers from Wwysdom and Infinity08, but I had to go by the rules.

Infinity08 has come up with a hypothesis, which is so clear and appears so decisive that I hope someday someone write a thesis (or a future bestseller) about "a natural evolution" of word usages "based on a civilization's progress."

I made Infinity08's opinion the "accepted answer" so that all other comments become the support to his hypothesis.
I know it's still short of finding "the founding father/mother of modern daydreams" as Wwysdom wrote, but I hope someone's going to find that out... and I'd be thrilled to read his or her book or an article on this topic in the future.

Again, I thank you all for your insights.
Have a happy dream...
Andy
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Infinity08Commented:
>> that I hope someday someone write a thesis (or a future bestseller) about "a natural evolution" of word usages "based on a civilization's progress."
That sounds like a good idea ... :) I'd be interested to read it too !
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WwysdomCommented:
Thanks, aminase!
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