In a contentious series of threads over at Lawrence Auster’s View from the Right, and in the midst of a very long comment on the imago dei, I used the word “tradent.” Now, normally Lawrence is quite stern with me, both about the length of my comments and about my use of obscure words. But this time, he graciously let both of my characteristic rhetorical foibles pass without comment, except to insert a bracketed question mark – a typographical cocked eyebrow – after my use of the unusual expression.
I think “tradent” might be useful to us. What does it mean? According to the OED, a tradent is, “the person who delivers or hands over any property to another.”
It is obviously related closely to “trade” as well as “tradition,” which stem from the Latin trans, “over” + dare, “to give.” So do “traitor” and “treason.” Liberals are traitors to the ancient tradition of their forefathers; we are traitors to the liberal tradition, and to the extent that we carry our treason into practice by living traditionally, we are tradents.
A tradent is thus to be distinguished from a traditionalist. We have been using the latter term to cover both a person who advocates tradition, as Orthosphereans all do, and a person who lives traditionally. Many of our readers are traditionalists in both senses; the more, the better! But I think it makes sense to distinguish between the two sorts of traditionally minded person.
A traditionalist, then, is someone like myself who advocates tradition, but who doesn’t live a particularly traditional life. Let’s face it, I live a totally modern life. I mean, I still have a TV; how traditional can I be? By contrast, someone who actually lives a traditional life is a tradent. An Amish man is a tradent. Whereas I am trying to resuscitate a dead culture, rather as if I were trying to spread Latin literacy, he is handing down a living patrimony. A tradent might not even know that he is handing on a patrimony. Indeed, a denizen of a truly traditional culture would never suspect that he was doing anything other than living a normal, proper life.
Orthosphereans, then, are generally apostate liberals, who are traditionalists intellectually, but not natively, and who are struggling to be tradents as well.
PS: There is no creature half so traditionally minded as an ent. But ents are not tradents, because, having no entwives, they have no one to whom they may pass down their traditions.