People are funny. Words are funny.
We use words and catch phrases to show we are hip, on the A list, in the know.
Over the years we have learned how to “spin” the truth, how to be “on the same page” with someone like minded, how to be “all that”…if only we could remember where we put “that.” Words like “spiffy” and “ginchy” and phrases like “cat’s pajamas” and “cat’s meow” (howz come cats get so much press?) have faded off the scene; but don’t you find it amusing that the word “cool” has been around for at least 50 years, and has retained the same meaning for the duration? But now “hot” can mean the same as “cool”. Whaaa? And has it not been equally amusing to see words like “groovy” re-surface?
What makes words timeless? What makes popular phrases popular in the first place? What makes a phrase catchy enough to become a “catch phrase”? As a word nerd, these things fascinate me. I like dictionaries. I think etymology is intriguing.
I have to confess, though…I can be a word snob. In the 80’s, the valley girl talk would effortlessly kindle feelings of contempt and disdain in me. I mean, like, really, you know, it, like totally got on my nerves, you know? Oh, the insanity!
I recently came across this amusing quote at Rob Loach’s blog:
I wonder how many venues I’ve been in throughout my life without even knowing it, simply because I had not yet learned the buzzword “venue.” Now I’m struggling not to feel horribly cheated.
Advertisers use words. They stroke your sense of self-worth and entice you to buy simply by choosing the right adjectives to promote their products.
We have “bad words” (and this term is very subjective) that we will not use. In our family, there are crude terms (Jr high names for body parts/functions) that are not permitted, impolite words (ie “shut up” or “whatever”) that are taboo, disrespectful words (“stupid” or “duh” or “talk to the hand” etc.) that may not be uttered…along with the standard list that the world recognizes (sometimes) as inappropriate. I want my kids to honor the Lord, not making a mockery of His creation or its design. I want them to reveal their love for others by esteeming them better than themselves…with their words as well as their actions and reactions. I also want my kids to have some “class” (in the best sense) in a classless world. Is this snobbery? I don’t think so. Why should we lower ourselves to a kindergarten, anatomical, selfish vocabulary? Why be like the world? Are we not supposed to approve those things that are excellent…not just passable?
We use words to manipulate, disguise, and “color” the truth, too. We redefine sin as a “mistake,” a “bad choice,” a case of “poor judgment,” or a “misunderstanding.” God is very particular in His word choices, and I continue to marvel at how perfectly He accomplishes communication by employing particular words. We should look to model this.
Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man. Col 4:6
Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. Eph 4:29
Be thoughtful about your words. Is that phrase full of grace? Will it minister grace to those who hear it? Does it edify? Be particular about what you say or write. The word “corrupt” in the second reference has the idea of something rotten or putrid. Do people smell garbage in our speech? That will not draw others to Him.
Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones. Prov 16:24
Choose irresistible, healthful words that will draw others to your God.