Tag: Words

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“REALLY?!” We use expressions of surprise. “What?!” or “You’ve *got* to be kidding!” or “Seriously?!” or “Say it isn’t so!” which ultimately leads to the famous, “You don’t *actually* believe that do you?!” All these phrases exactly depict the small Hebrew interrogative in Genesis 3:1, where the question is asked, “Did God *really* say?” The […]

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Some may have noticed me picking on words occasionally.   Perhaps picking is not the right idea here, maybe smoothing them out a little or just noting the passing of good words and not-so-good words.   On the one hand, it doesn’t matter to me as long as I understand or in some cases, it doesn’t matter […]

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Today’s redefined word of the day is ‘misogyny’. One dictionary’s definition is “dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women”. That is the definition that I have always thought of. But now it seems that ‘misogyny’ is used in a new variety of ways as have many other words. Beginning with the #MeToo movement, […]

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I prefer order. And predictability. Safe spaces are nice too, but not the ones we hear about on college campuses. Those are for once open-minded youths that have now been turned into feeble cowards who, 1) don’t know who they are yet, 2) don’t know what they truly believe, and 3) don’t know how to […]

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I heard a doctor from Massachusetts this past weekend on NPR say that it’s OK to use the word “obesity” but not the word “obese.” Obese is a label, she said, and she was trying to get people to stop saying it. If memory serves me well, the point of using “obese” was to avoid […]

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Word of the Year

 

I don’t know if this is a specifically Christian practice or if people who aren’t Christians do something similar, too, but it’s become a Thing in my church community to choose a “word” for the year. This is usually an area where we want to see God grow us, something to pray about and focus on as the months continue. Now, I realize that the way I’ve written this paragraph kind of sounds like I’m being critical about having a prayer word (as some call it, including myself), but I actually love the idea.

This year isn’t the first time I’ve had a prayer word. Last year my word started out as “maturity,” but then about a month in, it changed to “abide” and remained that way for the rest of the year. I had a Scripture passage to go with it (John 15:1-11), which I memorized and reviewed once a week. It was the right word for me for that time, and I did, praise Jesus, see some growth in my abiding in Christ.

You Know What They Say About “They”

 

Most of my pet peeves have to do with words and their use, misuse, and abuse — though baseball caps worn backward irritate me too. Give me a few more years and I’ll probably let my inner Kowalski run free, but so far I’ve kept him pretty well in check: I’m generally a live and let live kind of guy.

The use of the third-person plural pronoun “they” in reference to a single individual has always stuck in my craw. Saying “he or she” isn’t so hard, and has the virtue of grammatical correctness. Anyway, that’s what I thought, until I bothered to look up the use/misuse of the word in this context.

“Hate” Is a Crutch

 

I am confident that people who know me in real life will tell you that, while I exhibit at least the usual complement of flaws, odd quirks, and irritating peccadilloes, being hateful is not numbered among them. That’s probably because I’ve been fortunate, and can’t think of anyone who has seriously wronged me or wronged someone I love. Hate simply isn’t an emotion I experience, and the word is not one I use.

I would like to believe that this is true of most people — that they don’t really feel hate much, if at all — and that the word is too casually used.

Quote of the Day: Peggy Noonan on Language

 

The title of Peggy Noonan’s essay in last week’s Wall Street Journal was “What Were Robespierre’s Pronouns?” Two great paragraphs:

There is the latest speech guide from the academy, the Inclusive Communications Task Force at Colorado State University. Don’t call people “American”, it directs; “This erases other cultures.” Don’t say a person is mad or a lunatic, call him “surprising/wild” or “sad”.  “Eskimo”, “freshman” and “illegal alien” are out.  “You guys” should be replaced by “all/folks”. Don’t say “male” or “female”, say “man”, “woman”, or “gender non-binary”.

More Tolerance, Please

 

The more significant the disagreement, the more important it is that something as easily settled as the meaning of the words we use not prevent us from having a civil discussion. There are many real and important things about which we differ; our words should not be counted among them.

The word “tolerance” implies disagreement. After all, we are never asked to tolerate something of which we approve. Rather, we’re asked to tolerate things that we don’t necessarily like. Approval and tolerance are two different things, and asking someone to approve of something is not the same as asking them to tolerate it.

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Donald Trump said I love my country and if that is what makes me a nationalist, I guess I am. Now it’s the new hate speech talking point of late, a vile, dirty word. I looked up the definition of nationalism, to see if it changed since I was in grade school. If you Google, […]

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(Mis)understood Words

 

Have you ever heard a word used by someone who clearly didn’t understand it? Sometimes, it is the pronunciation (corpseman, obgynie), sometimes it’s totally the wrong word. And sometimes, the wrong word almost makes sense — those are my favorites.

One of my first examples was in the 6th grade when the teacher was explaining the circulatory system. He kept talking about the “Red Blood Corpsuckles.” I was in my wanting-to-be-a-doctor phase, was pretty sure that was not right, and did my best to correct him. (I’m still in my obnoxious-kid stage.)

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My larger church organization publishes a magazine called Daily Word which uses a short inspirational format. I write in the same format for my specific church to provide daily inspiration postings. Awhile back, @garyrobbins challenged folks to up their memberships. I was unable to comply with the challenge, but since we belong to the same […]

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The Power of Words

 

No one knew much about Herschel. He was a shabby older man with long untidy grey hair and beard, who always carried a stout pole and walked with a pronounced limp. He lived in one of the cheap hotels somewhere downtown, and he would come to the House of Love and Prayer whenever Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach was around. Most people found him rather annoying, but he was accepted as yet another of our eccentrics.

Sometime in the 1970s, American television showed a film made by an Israeli kibbutznik about the longing for peace after the Yom Kippur War. The opening shot was of a Jewish festival in Golden Gate Park, and there, as that scene closed, was Herschel, in an old Army jacket with a shoulder patch of Israeli and American flags, dancing in a kind of awkward stomp.

The Power of Words: Confessions of a Wordsmith

 

Words have always fascinated me. I was the kid that was always in motion – until I learned to read. From then on you could find me sitting, reading a book. Lots of books, I go through books like Patton went through France. I did even when I was in grade school.

I loved writing, too, from first grade on. Sure, I was not great at it, but I got better fast. By fourth grade I wrote a Christmas story (as a class assignment) an uncle tried to get published in New York. (No. It did not get published. It had “serious flaws,” according to a reviewer from the publishing house. What can I say? I was nine, trying to run with adults.)

The Power of Words: ‘I Can’t Get Enough Words!’

 

My older cousin Rosetta was off to college when I was still in knickers. My aunt said she was brilliant, finishing high school and college early. She went on to teach school in New Jersey for thirty years. I only saw her on holidays and a few vacations at her dad’s cottage in Butler, PA.

We recently began to talk by phone after all these years. She still has the same musical voice. Even on a serious topic, she sounds melodic. Her voice is clear and concise, no stutters, sputters or slang, and it’s also a link to the familiar. When I hear it, our deceased relatives pop up in my mind, laughing around a feast of turkey, stuffed cabbage and homemade pumpkin pie, or the sound of cards being shuffled, knocking on the table and the scent of cherry pipe tobacco.

One year she came for a holiday dinner. Her hair was long and blonde, and she wore a dark blue velvet mini-dress. “Hi Uncle Will and Aunt Mary!” she exclaimed. I was dressed in fringed bell bottom jeans, a silly t-shirt and wore a floppy yellow hat with a peace sign to hide my pimply 7th grade face. My Uncle Al practically boxed my ears upon arrival. A devout Catholic, he hollered that the “peace sign” was the cross upside down, a mockery! Those ‘words’ delivered a verbal punch. I quickly yanked my hat off embarrassed, but all I remember thinking was, I want to grow up looking like Rosetta.

He Said, She Said

 

As a child between about the ages of 6 and 12, I had clear career plans. I wanted to be an author.

It’s easy to see why: my parents were careful to instill a lifelong love of literature in all of their children. Books were better than any toy. Also, I had a lot of imagination. When I was supposed to be sleeping, I acted out nearly full casts of characters with my own storylines as a game I played with my sister.