Category: words

brexit stage right?

I have tried to resist the change, I have tried to make a stand, I have tried to persuade others, but in the end it seems inevitable that ‘Brexit’ has entered the English language. It’s such an ugly and clumsy word – a lazy amalgamation of ‘Britain’ and ‘exit’ to denote the decision in the EU Referendum last year for us to leave the European Union.

way out signEvery time I hear the word it sets my grammatical hackles rising. I wondered whether the Bible had anything to say about it and found this verse (out of context) Proverbs 8:13:

 To fear the Lord is to hate evil;
    I hate pride and arrogance,
    evil behaviour and perverse speech.

Surely the word ‘Brexit’ counts as ‘perverse speech’ doesn’t it?

But I think I am going to have to accept that ‘Brexit’ is a word now. It has entered common usage and also entered our dictionaries. It doesn’t mean that I have to like the word, but I should recognise that my one person campaign against it (predominantly through passive resistance by not using the word – yes, I know, I’m a real RADICAL!) is not going to change anything.

I wonder how much emotional and physical energy is expended by people trying to protest against the unchangeable and trivial?

It’s important to notice two things about that rhetorical question:

  1. I am talking about the unchangeable and trivial. We can get hot under the collar about the most minor things and turn them into a point of principle. If you don’t believe me, read historical minutes from Church Meetings in the past where there will have been lengthy discussions about the colour of carpets or even (shock! horror!) about rotas.
  2. Notice that I wrote energy that is ‘expended’ not ‘wasted’. Some energy is wasted on protesting against the trivial, but some is well-spent influencing and affecting decisions. We should not meekly accept change that is unjust, that heightens inequality or that diminishes other people.

So where is all this leading? I don’t think I am likely to embrace the word ‘Brexit’. I will continue to use ‘leaving the EU’ or a similar phrase if I want to talk about it. But I will try not to allow the use of ‘Brexit’ to carry negative emotions and shape my opinions about other people who choose to use it.

If you look at the verse from Proverbs 8 in a slightly wider context (verses 12-13)we read:

‘I, wisdom, dwell together with prudence;
    I possess knowledge and discretion.
13 To fear the Lord is to hate evil;
    I hate pride and arrogance,
    evil behaviour and perverse speech.

Prudence, knowledge and discretion are all associated with wisdom, which is primarily about how we relate to God and others. If I let something trivial rile me it will only erode my relationships! Whether or not someone chooses to use the word ‘Brexit’ is surely less important than how I relate to them, isn’t it?

Be blessed, be a blessing

 

dis

dictionaryIn an early edition of yesterday’s bloggage I made a typo that completely changed the meaning of a phrase. I had edited what I had written from ‘I do not agree…’ to ‘I profoundly disagree…’ I replaced the ‘do not’ with ‘profoundly’ and thought that I had successfully added ‘dis’ to the front of ‘agree’ but when it was published somehow I had failed to do so and the sentence began ‘I profoundly agree…’

That put a very different meaning on what I wanted to say.

Thankfully a kind friend (thanks Alan!) noticed and rather than pointing it out publicly on social media he gently sent me an email pointing out the lack of ‘dis’ and assuming that I didn’t mean to say what it looked like I was saying. I immediately edited the version on my blog and pointed it out on social media in the hope that people would be alerted to the mistake.

It got me thinking, though, about the difference those three letters make. You’ll have to indulge me a bit in the musing below that may or may not evolve into a poem, but I have certainly taken poetic licence:

Spirits are dampened if dis is present and a heart-and courage are lost.

A dis can disempower different ability.

Agreements and unity fall apart in the presence of a dis.

A harmonious chord can become painful to hear when a dis is added.

It’s much more difficult for a sentry to stand still if there’s a dys.

If dis is missing a theory is proved.

But without a dis – gruntle is puted, tances are indistinct, a turbance is roughed up, traction is hard to maintain and the meaning of tort is twisted.

Be blessed, be a blessing

 

addidges

Some words start to sound funny when you say them out loud a few times. They may start off sounding fine, but when you repeat them they start to take on a different audio character.

dictionaryTry these (repeat them slowly out loud 4 or 5 times):

Bliss

Grumbling

Indulge

Adage

I hope that you are doing this, especially if you are reading this bloggage in a public place. Hehehe.

Adage is not only a word that starts to sound funny, it’s not even pronounced how it’s spelt. It should be ‘add ayj’ but it’s often pronounced ‘addidge’.

An adage is a saying that becomes accepted as true over a period of time, often observations about life and human behaviour.Here are a few adages:

“My mama always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” – Forrest Gump

“No peace for the wicked” Isaiah 48:22, Isaiah 57:21

“Pride goes before a fall” Proverbs 16:19

I want to start off some new addidges:

“Life is like eating a box of chocolates on a sunny day. We all come to a sticky end.”

“No peas for those with pea allergies.”

“Gravity goes with a fall”

“When things go wrong there’s not always anyone to blame, but anyone can be involved in making it better.”

“To become a wise old person you need to live a long time and listen more than you speak.”

How does something become an adage – how widely does it have to be accepted? How long does it take before something becomes an adage?

Based on a glance at social media it seems that some people live by adages – they find an apt saying to go with a photo of a kitten and it goes ‘viral’ so that suddenly it’s a new adage to live by.

What are your adages? What is the truth that underpins your life?

Be blessed, be a blessing.

 

new words

Those of you who are unfortunate enough to be regular visitors to this blog (and the fact you keep coming back suggests that you are doing it deliberately as opposed to those who have stumbled on this repository of bloggerel on t’internet) will know that from time to time I like to invent words. I have created such marvels of the English language as ‘ambitextrous’ – able to text with the thumb from either hand and ‘technoloiterate’ – comfortable hanging around with technology. And of course the words ‘bloggage’ – an entry on my blog, and ‘bloggerel’ – the words and content that comprise an entry on my blog.

Today I introduce you to the latest word to come from my confused mind: ‘ambisomnorous’. I will leave you to work out what you think it means whilst I tell you a little story.

At the beginning of August I had some minor surgery on my right shoulder. It is getting better but it is not yet completely pain-free. There are some things I still cannot do (for example, my golf clubs have lain undisturbed for the last couple of months – and probably grateful for the lack of mistreatment). But the most frustrating thing that I’m not yet able to do is sleep on my right side. That is my favourite side to sleep on.

I don’t think I’m alone in having a favourite site to sleep on, am I? I don’t know why it is but I prefer to sleep on my right hand side. It’s not as if I can’t sleep on my back or my left hand side but if I’m on my back I’m more prone to snoring (apparently, although I’ve never heard it myself so I can’t be sure) and if I am on my left side but somehow doesn’t feel as right (pun intended).

To provide some internet balance against all of the cat photos...
To provide some internet balance against all of the cat photos…

As I was lying awake last night musing on this the thought occurred to me that there must be some weird people who are actually capable of sleeping on either side without a preference. I have decided that these people are ambisomnorous.I have checked on a well-known search engine and it does not have a record of this word existed before today so I am claiming this as a new English word. When the Oxford English Dictionary finally get around to include it in one of their editions they will reference this bloggage is the first incidence of the word being used publicly.

I suppose alongside ambisomnorous should be ‘monosomnorous’ – someone who can only sleep on one side and ‘monopreferosomnorous’ (which is what I am).

As I was dropping off to sleep (on my left hand side) following these musings I reflected on two things: first of all my brain goes to some very strange places when it’s half awake (and/or half asleep); and secondly I was reminded of a paraphrase of a Bible passage that I wrote recently:

“When I think about how I’m made I tremble in wonder.”

That’s not big-headedness, it is giving credit to the imagination and skill of the Creator.

Be blessed, be a blessing

expect the unexpected and other silly things we say

not speakI was listening to the radio recently and the interviewer was asking his expert interviewee about the financial crisis in Greece. He asked the expert what surprises lay in store as the process unfolded.

To be fair the expert was not fazed by such a daft question and pointed out that by their nature surprises were impossible to predict. Then he said that we had to expect the unexpected.

I know that the phrase is used to encourage people to be ready for anything but when you look at the bland meaning of the phrase it’s rather silly isn’t it? Unexpected things are, by their nature, not something we can expect. If we expect them they cease to be unexpected.

We say all sorts of things without thinking them through:

“Don’t come running to me if you fall off and break your leg.”

“Close your mouth when you eat your food.”

And so on…

Sadly we also say hurtful and cruel things without thinking them through. Sometimes, if we speak reactively, we can say things that we instantly regret, but we can’t unsay them. Sometimes we might even intentionally say things that we know will hurt.

And we learn to expect the unexpected. We learn to anticipate that someone will not respond well to a suggestion that we make, so we hit them back first by getting in a pre-emptive strike.

Jesus suggests that what comes out of our mouth is based on our heart (Luke 6):

43 ‘No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. 44 Each tree is recognised by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thorn-bushes, or grapes from briers. 45 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.

So if we want to be more careful about what we say we need to ask for God’s Spirit’s help with our heart, not our mouth. We all need a change of heart.

Be blessed, be a blessing

mind your language

Regular bloggists here will know that I love language, and I am fascinated by the way it evolves. I have even attempted to introduce new words and concepts into the English language (bloggist, bloggage, technoloiterate, for example) but so far to no avail. I wonder what it is about a new word that enables it to make the transition from local use to global acceptance (you know it has ‘made it’ when it is accepted into the Oxford English Dictionary, or it stops being underlined in red by computer spellcheckers).

Recently, however, a new phrase has come along that jars with me. It grates. Something about it just feels a bit slippery – almost as if it is the result of ‘spin’. The phrase in question is ‘pre-loved’. If you have not come across it before it is now being used to replace ‘second hand’. It comes alongside ‘vintage’ and ‘recycled’ as a euphemism that is trying to overcome the snobbish stigma that seems to have emerged about ‘second hand’ goods. Does something as simple as changing ‘second hand’ to ‘pre-loved’ change our attitude towards it?

And then, reflecting further on this, I wondered whether we are, in fact, pre-loved. Not in the sense of us being reincarnated, but the sense within the Bible that God knew us and loved us even before we were born.

Psalm 139 includes these words:

13 For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.

And Jeremiah 1 begins with:

The word of the Lord came to me, saying,

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
    before you were born I set you apart;
    I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

So perhaps before I get too concerned about things being pre-loved I should accept that I am pre-loved myself! How does that make you feel?

Be blessed, be a blessing

the parable of the creativity

Today I have been creative. Well, I think I have been creative. I have put together combinations of letters to form words that I believe make some sort of sense when I put them together. I have put images with words to illustrate them.

I have sent some of the creativity to other people for them to use, adapt, change or delete. And some of it has been prepared for later consumption and I hope that they will be helpful there too.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABut after launching this creativity out into the world I am no longer able to control it. I have to wave goodbye and watch it leave home. I can’t control how it is received. I can’t demand that people look at it or read it a particular way. I can’t make people like it. I run the risk of being misunderstood, misrepresented and having my creativity misappropriated.

Perhaps the best way would be if I could somehow be present when people read the words and see the images and then I could explain to them what I meant and help them to understand. But that’s not possible. Is it?

Perhaps there is a parable here?

In the beginning was the Creativity…

Be blessed, be a blessing