Words, Words, and more Words

I’ve taken the plunge into digital reading.

kindle-logo-001Seldom do I pick up a paper book and read unless it is not available digitally. As I look at my screen (phone, tablet and computer), I find I read faster than ever before, consuming prodigiously the words before me.

Yet, I always pause when my eyes happen upon a word that seems out of place, or without a clear meaning. Depending on the book, genre and publication date, there might be words from back in time that are no longer used today, or a word that is uniquely placed that seems to have a different meaning than I realized.

Words do change their meanings over time. Right?

One of the things digital reading gives me is access to classic works from a century or more in the past. For Free! And that is always a good price!

Currently I am reading Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tarzan of the Apes. It contains many anciently used words and phrases that gives me pause, and a handy ability to do an online research. With the Kindle software, I can simply place my finger on a word, hold it for a second and a quick definition will pop up. If that is not enough, then I can click to read deeper about the meaning and use of the word or phrase.

Sure makes my research time go by faster!

esword-001With my various bible software tools, I have a favorite that is quick to use and fairly inexpensive. I’ve used numerous platforms, but by far e-Sword is my favorite (Click here). There are many free books within the platform, and others can be purchased nominally. Regardless, I get the same experience across all my platforms.

When I come across a word in my everyday study book (King James Version), and believe me, there are words we have never used in modern times! Well, it is simple to click a different version and see how that word or phrase was translated by translators from different time periods and perspectives. The Amplified (AMP) and Message (MSG) are more modern versions with either a common language approach or a descriptive phrase approach. It makes it easier to understand the vernacular between translations.

Now. A quick note. There are difference in translations that are important to note. Some are retelling the story of scripture from a time period of language as it is used to day. The Living Bible is one of these. It may not translate every word or phrase exactly with modern words, only tell the story from the perspective of the translator. This may be okay, unless the translator fails to understand the story line themselves!

It would be like you reciting a story you are reading but using your own language and understanding to an audience. You may not have your facts correct, but you keep on speaking. 

When blogging, I attempt to use the New KJV (NKJV) version the most as it is supposedly from the same source used as the original KJV translation – only the language has been modernized to our times. Old English uses a lot of words we simply do not find much in our modern speak. For example:

Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy rereward.  (Isaiah 58:8 KJV)

Notice that last word. Rereward. It’s not found in my blogging dictionary and when editing my writing it shows up with a red line under it to indicate it may be a misspelled word. Well. I copied and pasted straight from e-Sword so I know there is no spelling issue. When I check other translations then the word is modernized to something we would recognize today.

Then your light shall break forth like the morning, Your healing shall spring forth speedily, And your righteousness shall go before you; The glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.  (Isaiah 58:8 NKJV)

Thy/Thine/Thee become You/Your. Rereward becomes Rear Guard. Now, when I read the scripture I understand it better. The Glory of the Lord shall be my rear guard!

That is an important aspect to understanding how much God loves us! Where I may not know rereward, I totally understand “rear guard” and to put it into modern words… God has my back!

As I find older writings of American literature to contain older language that may make no sense in our modern times, it is easy to understand why many do not read the older works. They are HARD to understand. The cadence of the writing is different. There are no reference points that can be easily understood. Shakespeare classics are tough without a reference point! In the Dickens classic, why is a Lump of Coal given in a stocking at Christmas?

Well. Less we stay too far in the past of reading, I also teach some college classes on ministry, and can you believe that someone wrote a paper with all the modern social media speak of our modern times? Abbreviations, code, slang, incomplete sentences, no punctuation, missed capitalization… Well. I had to reject the paper and ask for it in modern and complete English. I’m fearful that the modern writing will not be understood by those of us who enjoy English as it is read today…. Just saying…You don’t have to go back a hundred years in our writing style to pen a good message to the reader of today!

Final note. To all you writers and authors, actual or wannabee’s, please focus on getting your work digitally produced. I seldom buy paper books any longer… I’m a pack rat and just have no more room… But digitally, I own a thousand or more works and there’s plenty of hard drive space for your work to join my digital library!