It’s often all about our understanding of Words, Words, Words…
I was teaching last night and referenced a word from one of Paul’s writing. It matters little the word, but the thought of the word bounced around in my mind and caused me to have a restless night of sleep. I awoke this morning with the intention of studying the word and determining if I had a grasp on it. Again, it is immaterial which word I am thinking about, because you could do this same thought process with just about every word!
Why do we use the words we use, and do they express exactly what we want them to describe? Does it paint a adequate word picture, or mental image, that the hearer can easily grasp, absorb, ruminate and agree with? Or does it confuse the issue because we are all from a different level of language?
Do we all have the same foundation of language?
I love the study of words. After all, I have a ministry that often revolves around the use of words. I blog, therefor I must know words. I write, I speak, I read – so words are very important to me. Regardless of what we think, words need to be spoken with clarity not only for ourselves, but for the audience!
1Co 2:4-5 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: (5) That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.
So, I took the one word and began a cursory glance at various dictionaries and commentaries to determine it’s origin and all the possible meanings, all the while asking myself if I used the word correctly?
Was it even the most correct word “to” use in the situation?
There are so many words that have fallen out of use, or favor, over the years. At the same time words come back to haunt us with misuse in this modern day of language as we make them mean something than they were originally intended to mean.
And there more words than we can imagine who no longer mean what they used to mean. Their spelling is different today, and their usage has been modified. One way of thinking about this is the creation of a new word, or the reinvention of an old word with a new meaning – called Neologism.
The Oxford Dictionary assumes there are over a quarter of a million words in the English Language (Click Here)… Of course, one of their concepts is to also consider if a word (ex. Dog) is actually two words because it can be a noun and a verb with two different meanings!
There are many approaches to studying words, and I am sure I do not have a complete handle on this!
We often think about a word based on it’s meaning and the varied uses whether a noun or verb. For me, a huge interest is the root of a word – where it comes from (etymology). More recently I have been studying that language (words) are simply the result of what we see in our mind and try to find a common language to describe what we have stored up inside (semiology). This last point is an interesting study because…well, why don’t you look it up yourself! (Read Here… )
Many who claim a common language often narrow their language use to a regional dialect. This is not simply from one country or continent to another, but it can easily be from one side of a street to the other.
A few years, well, okay, it was over 20 years ago, I was working with a bunch of New Yorkers. Within their grouping they could tell what neighborhood each were from based upon how they used the English language, the idioms, the speech pattern, and even the word selected to describe something.
This same issue is alive with me today… Take church, for example – as we consider where we are all from and the experiences we all bring to the table, it is often difficult to describe some common theme and get everyone to understand… Unless you are speaking a common language that each has been schooled in similarly.
It’s like speaking Spanish. I learned Castilian Spanish in High School, but this is the medieval form of Spanish used in Spain. Or at least a portion of it. As the language migrated through time and distance it became a separate language (I think) that is sufficiently different than the Spanish used in Mexico, or the Tex-Mex that might be used along the Texas border. Or even, sufficiently different than Portuguese that is from Portugal who shares it’s only border with Spain!
There are two thoughts from the Apostle Paul I would like to share. Notice my highlights.
- 1Ti 1:16 Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.
- 2Ti 1:13 Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.
Paul is laying a foundation for teaching and understanding – a pattern and a form. Both words come from the same Greek work that can simply mean, “a sketch for imitation“. When these two books were translated from their original language, this one word was used differently in English for the sake of the thought of the sentence. In that day of English, each had a different meaning and usage.
This is one reason why we multiple translations. The English language has been modernized over the years! We no longer say howbeit, shew, thou, hast… And these are just the words found in these two examples!
In Sign Language, ESL (English Sign Language) often translates every single word from the spoken word to the signed word. In ASL (American Sign Language) it is often the theme or thought of the word or sentence that gets translated. Yet, they are both using the same “language” concept of communication.
Finally, and lest I continue rambling along, what we yearn to communicate with spoken or written words, are often communicated internally long before they become external communication. We have all heard the description of someone speaking before they think, well, this tweet came to me the other day and I want to share it with you now…
“Lips are destined sooner or later to repeat audibly what the heart has already spoken silently.”~Mark L Briggs
Or, as Jesus spoke:
Luke 6:45 The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.