Monday, October 17, 2011

What did you say?

I realized recently that I had been mispronouncing a word all my life – well, since I could say fairly big words, anyway. Insolent. Not hard to see it isn’t “insolet,” is it? May be Word 101, but I managed to roll it off my tongue as insolet for more years than I want to add up.

One of my daughters-in-law brought another mispronouncement to my attention not long after she joined our tribe. As I described a certain sunny color to her, she observed, “Do you know you’re saying ‘yella’ instead of ‘yellow’? Well, no, I hadn’t noticed. As I began to monitor myself a little more closely, I caught several other mistakes in substituting lazy southern vernacular, such as: “pilla” (pillow), “fella” instead of fellow, “mirra” for mirror, and “wood jew” for would you. However, to justify myself a teeny bit, I hasten to point out that I do not drawl out “Loseziana” when referring to our southern neighbor, nor dollah for dollar (as Mississippians tend to do), or substitute “bidness” for business.

I suppose you’d call these lapses in correct English usage, “blind spots”: being unaware of errors. Such gaffes are fairly innocuous. Committing them likely will launch no wars, garner any jail time, or make us fatter (that happens only if we have to eat those words). If the possibility that you may be word-ignert keeps you awake at night, get a dictionary and start fixing the problem.

Other blind spots related to speech can be infinitely more serious. Many of us seem to pay little mind to Jesus’ teachings about our verbal communication. We sometimes cast questionable utterances in the “cute” category and spit them out anyway. “White” lies? Gossip? Words that soil our mouths, and dirty the air when allowed to escape? Words that flatter instead of “speaking the truth in love”? Sarcastic, demeaning words? Words designed to pacify instead of being a call to God’s truth? Oh man.

Do you say “Missoura” and “Miama”; how about “vi-eeʹ-na” sausages rather than Vienna sausages? Doesn’t really matter because minor mispronunciations – though annoying to others at times - don’t determine your destiny. Nor do they make or break relationships (if so, you’re probably better off without them), and neither do they bring a frown to the Lord’s brow.

Not so lying, vulgarity, gossip, malicious sarcasm, and cowardly language; these soul-shrinking, spirit-sickening blights delight the prince of darkness, as we betray the Holy One who lives within.

“For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ, in God…” Col: 3:3

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