Tag Archives: words

Date Night

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After having 3 straight weeks of hosting teams and not seeing my husband night after night, we have a date night this week.  We are going to the movies, and I don’t even care which one we are seeing.  I just want to talk.  I might “need” a coffee afterwards if I haven’t spent all my words yet.

I’m a pretty typical woman.  I’m wired for words.  I write in my blog AND a private journal AND a prayer journal AND I keep a notebook of quotes I like.  On top of all that, I fill up with words by reading a lot.  I don’t talk as much as most women, but I definitely talk more than my husband.  When he’s not around much, I’m overrun by children in my life (both my own and my school kids) who all talk my ear off while my own words just bottle up inside.  The pressure builds.

A few of the kids in my class are super random.  They will raise their hands in the middle of a math lesson and tell me that they once lost a tooth at their grandparent’s house or that they really like swimming.  “OK, back to planet earth,”  I think.  I can tell when I’ve had too many kid conversations when I no longer have patience for these random chatty moments.  I know when my eyes glaze over and I can’t even humor the child that I am in desperate need of “adult conversation.”  Date night is just the thing I need.

My poor husband, he feels like he has it so hard in life.  I don’t ask for much, just a well placed grunt every few sentences to show me that he’s listening.  But often times even that is too much to ask.  I accuse him of not listening to me, and he repeats the last sentence I said just to prove that he was listening.  I say that’s not listening, that’s repeating.

I no longer ask for him to tell me what he’s thinking.  I consider that an amateur question that young, inexperienced wives ask their baffled husbands.  I have found that I can continue a stream of thought without his verbal prompting or participating.  I only want the grunt to feel like I’m talking to a human.  My standards are low, I know.

So tonight I will unload the congestion of my thought life, empty 3 weeks worth of thoughts onto my husband.  Pray for him.

It’s not “Just Words”

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Language has meaning.  Even if you don’t feel the impact of the message personally either because you don’t understand its context or you are not a native speaker, language is never “Just Words”.  In the Ten Commandments, God tells us not to use His name in vain, either in ordinary conversation or as a cuss word.  He tells us that using his name in ordinary conversation offends Him.  It’s his name, so He has the RIGHT to be offended if we take his holy name and make it common or trashy.  You can say, “its just words” but it’s not.  Let me give you some examples.

For example, you can’t just hop into a second language and flash about their swear words simply because they don’t have the same impact on you as they do on native speakers.  Their naughty words might sound funny or hollow to you, but they pack a powerful linguistic punch for their native audience.

In language school we had a teacher who said she thought the SH– word sounded chic and sophisticated.  She would just pop out this word any time she thought it was fun, and we would all cringe and ask her not to say that word.  She thought our reaction was funny.  We were offended.

A good writer will choose words that have a powerful impact.  For example, another blogger that I read used the phrase “50 shades of…” to catch the attention of her readers.  You can say that those are just words, but they have a cultural context now that the erotic novel 50 Shades of Grey has become famous.  She chose those words to get attention.  She chose them for their powerful cultural impact.  She chose them for a reason.  Words are not JUST words.

Recently I got into a Facebook argument over a picture title.  Newsweek printed a picture of President Obama on the cover with the title “Second Coming” which is a clear reference to the Christian belief that the Messiah Jesus will come a second time to rescue his people.  Clearly Newsweek is implying that Obama is a messiah come for a second term to rescue his people.  Those are not just words.  They were chosen for their powerful implications, their religious connotations.  They were intended to communicate more than just the message that Obama is beginning his second term.

My argument went something like this:

John (I’ll call him “John” because that’s his name, see, words have meaning.):  Newsweek is a political magazine not a religious magazine.  Second, I’m not sure anyone including himself has ever called the President the Messiah… (other people were commenting here) it’s called a play on words.  It actually happens a lot in titles… go back in history and see how many others you could say this about.

Me:  (I decided to join the discussion because this John guy was being an Ass- there, words have power.  Were you just offended that I said that word?)  It IS a play on words and it was chosen to communicate a specific message.  That’s WHY we Christians are offended.  Newsweek has hijacked language that is powerful and meaningful to US Christians and applied it to a human.  It would be equal to saying the President is Allah or the President is divine.  We fully capture the INTENTION of the play on words, we aren’t stupid.  We GET it.  and that’s WHY we are shocked and offended, John.

John:  So now you’re saying there is only Christian words and sayings?  That seems a little narcissistic to me.  Words are words folks.

Me:  No, I’m saying there are words that are powerful to other groups too, but these specific words “Second Coming” have meaning to us Christians because we use them to talk about Jesus.  If they had used words like “Rabbi”, that would have been offensive to Jews, “Allah” would have been offensive to Muslims, each group has words that are powerful to them.  It’s not narcissistic, it’s language.  It’s meant to be powerful.

John:  Look, I get what you’re saying, but the “second coming” isn’t owned by Christians.  Words are words.  It would be totally different if they called him Jesus or Messiah or pastor or rabbi, but they didn’t (here he totally contradicts himself by saying it would be different if different words were used.).  Article titles are meant to shock and get you to read the article or catch your eye.  Don’t be offended by the little stuff.  Some native Americans believe we are reincarnated also a second coming.  Don’t take a title personal is all I’m saying.

Me:  And all I’m saying is that I have a RIGHT to be offended.  I AM a writer.  I know for a fact that writers chose their words carefully and intentionally in order to communicate a specific message as concisely and powerfully as possible.  I never said Christians own these words.  I said they have a powerful meaning to us.  Since the words “second coming” clearly have no significance to you, I think you should just say that this is an offense that you do not understand.

So that was the extent of our argument.  Words are not just words.  Words have meaning and power.  Because they are powerful, we should be careful how we use them.  We should be reverent of God’s name, we should be sensitive to religious language or imagery (from ANY religious group) because they have a RIGHT to be offended if we hijack their terminology and profane their holy words.  And finally GOD has a right to tell us how we can and cannot use his name.  Do not take the name of the Lord in vain, don’t use it commonly or crassly.

She has a way with words.

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I like words.

When Andy Rooney of 60 Minutes fame died, they called him a “curmudgeon”, a bad-tempered or surly person.  Ever since then, I’ve been trying to use curmudgeon in a conversation.  I haven’t found a good way to casually slip it in.  But I will someday.

I like when words roll right off your tongue.  Words like “onomatopoeia” and “lackadaisical” are slippery fish to handle.  I feel so smart when I can toss one of these babies into a sentence like it was nothing.

I like words, but I suck at spelling.  I am of the first generation to use computers.  I was raised with Spell Check for words and calculators for math, so I’m a moron in both subjects. Now that I’m an English teacher I realize that it’s not entirely my fault.  I blame the “schwa”.  If you don’t know what a schwa is then you likely were never taught phonetics in Elementary reading class.  Because of schwa, no one can tell the difference between any of the vowels in an unstressed syllable.  If you can’t hear the difference, how can you spell it?  So I’m sure that “Hooked on Phonics” is a scam.

There are some words that I misspell regularly.  Words like tongue, tomorrow, vacuum, dilemma, definitely, furniture, curriculum, congratulations, and jealous are forever underlined red when I click my trusty Spell Check.  When I was a Freshman in college I worked in a bakery.  Every time I needed to write “Congratulations” in frosting on a cake I would write in on a piece of scrap paper first so I wouldn’t mess up someone’s sheet cake.  I understand Winnie the Pooh when he says that his spelling is a little “wobbly”.  Mine is too.

It’s true, I like words, but I’m seriously thankful that I’m not learning English as a second language.  I think I might give up.  Whenever I go through a fast food drive-thru and hear a foreign accent over the speaker I think two things:  First of all, who was the cruel manager that scheduled that poor person to work the hardest job in the world for a non-native speaker; and second of all, I want to applaud that dear soul for making such a herculean effort to understand English spoken through a crappy intercom system.  I doubt I could do that in Spanish without sprinkling my speech with expletives every now and then.  That would most definitely turn me into a curmudgeon.