Archives for posts with tag: words

A word is a unit of language, a sound or a combination of sounds, that functions as a principal carrier of meaning. At least that is the definition. However, there are many words that I hear which do not fulfill that purpose. Meaningless words.

I know that the meaning of words can change over time. And words can have multiple meanings depending on context and a variety of other factors. But a word ought to mean something.

Homer, the legendary author of The Iliad and the Odyssey said, “Words empty as the wind are best left unsaid.” I agree. Yet in everyday conversation and in the media I often wonder exactly what is the point of the word or phrase that is used.

In Little Women, Louisa May Alcott said, “I like good strong words that mean something…” Me too, but daily I am bombarded with meaningless words.

For example, there is a commercial for an adult beverage that claims to be “colder, crisper, and cleaner.” A drink? A financial institution claims it is “the bank of here.” Not the bank of “there.” OK. A fast food chain urges you to “Eat like you mean it.” Huh? A popular hotel chain’s tag line is “Travel should take you places.” Duh! Meaningless words.

Also there are the words and expressions that we toss around without any intended purpose. “Bless your heart” certainly is not what it sounds like most of the time. Caroline Rogers, in Southern Living, says “It’s a versatile phrase that has a thousand meanings—and just as many possible responses. Southerners know that the meaning of the phrase depends on the tone in which it’s spoken, and a slight change in inflection or volume can make all the difference.” Meaningless words.

Another expression used by us Southerners is “Y’all come to see us.” That is just a friendly way to say goodbye. We don’t have any expectation of the person following up and actually paying us a visit. Meaningless words.

When I make a purchase at Home Depot or pay for my meal at Wendy’s drive-through window I am likely to hear “Have a good day” or more often than not it is “Have a good ‘un” as I leave. Meaningless words.

The Huffington Post suggests that “Our everyday language has become littered with terms, so nondescript and ubiquitous that we barely even register their presence.” The writer goes on to list the 12 words that have been so overused they really don’t mean anything anymore: literally, unique, awesome, amazing, totally, basically, incredible, really, very, and honestly.

Conversations and writings often utilize words like liberal, conservative, moderate, and progressive. The meaning of each of those words is so loaded according to the individual’s political, social, or religious position. Seventy years ago, George Orwell wrote the prophetic essay, “Politics and the English Language,” in which he noted that politicians, journalists and academics were increasingly using meaningless words and euphemisms to make “lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and… give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.” I wonder what Orwell would say today.

I wonder if “Christian” is in danger of suffering the same fate.

Jamie Jenkins

What are other meaningless words?

Do you think “Christian” is becoming a meaningless word?

 

Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me. This childhood chant is reported to have appeared in The Christian Recorder of March 1862, a publication of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, where it is presented as an “old adage.”

The purpose of this rhyme is to suggest that one should ignore name-calling or disparaging remarks and refrain from retaliation. It is to be used as a reply to an insult, indicating that the insult has been registered as such, but did not have any effect.

While this is an easily remembered childhood saying, it is not true. The truth is words can be terrific tools for good but they are also powerful instruments of pain as well as. Recovery from the physical injuries inflicted by sticks and stone- and other objects- is often much easier and more complete than healing from emotional and psychological wounds.

Words have a way of burrowing into your psyche. International speaker and author Yehuda Berg says, “Words are singularly the most powerful force available to humanity. We can choose to use this force constructively with words of encouragement, or destructively using words of despair. Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate and to humble.”

A decade after Nelson Mandela’s release from prison he said: “It is never my custom to use words lightly. If 27 years in prison have done anything to us, it was to use the silence of solitude to make us understand how precious words are, and how real speech is in its impact on the way people live and die.”

Marvin Williams wrote in the devotional Our Daily Bread, “Words have the potential to produce positive or negative consequences. They have the power to give life through encouragement and honesty or to crush and kill through lies and gossip.”

King Solomon said, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” (Proverbs 18:21)

“We all make mistakes in all kinds of ways, but the man who can claim that he never says the wrong thing can consider himself perfect, for if he can control his tongue he can control every other part of his personality! Men control the movements of a large animal like the horse with a tiny bit placed in its mouth. Ships too, for all their size and the momentum they have with a strong wind behind them, are controlled by a very small rudder according to the course chosen by the helmsman. The human tongue is physically small, but what tremendous effects it can boast of! A whole forest can be set ablaze by a tiny spark of fire, and the tongue is as dangerous as any fire, with vast potentialities for evil. It can poison the whole body, it can make the whole of life a blazing hell.” (James3:2-6, J.B. Phillips)

Maybe the prayer of the psalmist should be ours: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14)

Jamie Jenkins

 

 

Last week I shared William Arthur Ward’s Six Ethics for Life. Since then I came across Six Rules of Living that the late Rev. Billy Graham’s shared in his book, The Journey. I pass them on to you with my comments, not that my perspective is better or my manner of expression is superior.

MAKE IT YOUR GOAL TO LIVE AT PEACE WITH OTHERS

“As far as it is possible, live in peace with one another.” That was the advice given by the Apostle Paul centuries ago. Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount teaches that peacemakers are children of God.

Inspirational Image for Matthew 5:9

AVOID REVENGE

I have heard some folks say when they are wronged, “I don’t get over it; I get even.” Living by the law of retaliation is one way but it is not the best way. The end result of “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” is that we will all be blind and toothless. Words of wisdom from the Bible offers an alternative:  “Turn away from evil and do good. Try to live in peace even if you must run after it to catch and hold it!” (I Peter 3:11 The Living Bible)

Before you embark on a journey of revenge dig two graves - ancient chinese philosopher confucius quote printed on burned wood board.

GUARD YOUR TONGUE

“It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell” (James 3:5-6, The Message). The tongue is a powerful tool for good or evil. Therefore we must be diligent with our speech.

Silence Talk Freedom Of Speech Woman Girl

NEVER REPAY EVIL WITH EVIL

Jesus instructed us to turn the other cheek. To “turn the other cheek” does not imply pacifism, nor does it mean we place ourselves or others in mortal danger (www.gotquestions.org). Rather it is an attitude that we must cultivate that chooses to return good for evil, love for hate, kindness for harshness, affirmation for insult.

One kind word can change someones entire day. Inspirational saying about love and kindness. Vector positive quote on colorful background with squared paper texture

TREAT OTHERS AS YOU WANT THEM TO TREAT YOU

“The concept occurs in some form in nearly every religion and ethical tradition and is often considered the central tenet of Christian ethics. It can also be explained from the perspectives of psychology, philosophy, sociology, human evolution, and economics” (Wikipedia).

ornate,text,design,decoration,old,symbol,art,outdoors

This is the Golden Rule. Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? If everyone practiced this, there would be no need for laws and everyone would have a wonderful life. Obviously it is not so easy and does not happen automatically. Nevertheless it must remain one of our guiding principles.

 

PRACTICE THE POWER OF FORGIVENESS

Forgiveness Is Not An Occasional Act, It Is A Constant Attitude

No one is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes. When you are the “victim” of someone’s imperfect action, attitude, or words, you don’t have to wait for them to ask to be forgiven. It is possible to forgive so spontaneously that you rob the knife of its cutting edge. Forgiveness does more for the “forgiver” than for the “forgiven.” We forgive others when we let go of resentment and give up any claim to be compensated for the hurt or loss we have suffered.

As I said last week, there is no simple formula for rich and full living but these six principles are a good start.

Jamie Jenkins

It has been two weeks since I have posted on this blog. I am sure that you have missed it and wondered what has happened to me. Your life has been greatly diminished because you have been deprived of my musings.

If I believed that, I would be in need of serious therapy. The fact is I suspect that you have not even realized that there has been a two week gap in my Thoughts for Thursday postings. And even if you realized it, there has been no detrimental effect because of it.

dsc_0735

Nevertheless, an explanation for why the hiatus. My oldest son Jason, his wife Keiko, and their two children Jamie and Felicia (my only two grandchildren) have been visiting for the past five weeks. In addition, we have also had a revolving door of guests since they arrived. My grandson’s best friend from Korea, a cousin from California, and another cousin from Japan have each spent 10 days – two weeks with us. It has been so much fun and it has occupied most of my thoughts. So, I gave my writing a rest.

By the way, my son’s family is one of many who live something of a nomadic lifestyle. They are a part of a large community of traveling families. They lived in Japan for 13 years but left there in 2013. Since then they have lived in Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia, and Spain. They are on their way to Mexico for their next residence. Jason writes a blog about their experiences and has posted over 100 podcast interviews with other traveling families. If you are interested, check out his blog (www.anepiceducation.com).

Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man. Francis Bacon

I write as a discipline, not because I enjoy it or think that I have anything of major importance to say. World events are not affected by my opinions or advice.  Lives are not drastically altered by my wisdom. I understand that.

Writing is an act of faith, not a trick of grammar.

E. B. White

Verbal communication has been my primary method of sharing my thoughts. I am occasionally reminded that I can talk a lot without saying very much. Writing helps me to be conscious of choosing the right word(s) and I am more aware of reasonable limits on the length of my communication. Writing helps me discipline myself in that regard. Writing regularly with self-imposed time/space limitations also has value.

“The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter. ’Tis the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.”
― Mark Twain

These past two weeks I have chosen not to chain myself to the chair in front of the computer to be sure I did not miss a Thursday entry. That, in itself, has been a discipline and a reminder that it is okay if I miss an occasional self-imposed deadline.

So why am I writing today? For one thing, I want those who read what I write to know that I am still alive and well. Secondly, in the midst of everyday life I need to maintain some sense of rhythm and to continue to work on the art of communication.

You can be certain that this latest installment is not because my sense of self-worth or my ego demands it. I understand the warning given by the Apostle Paul: “I say to everyone of you not to think more highly of himself [and of his importance and ability] than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has apportioned to each a degree of faith [and a purpose designed for service].” (Romans 12:3, Amplified Bible)

Jamie Jenkins

 

 

The Word Warriors of Wayne State University believe that “we limit ourselves to words that are momentarily popular or broadly applicable, and so rob ourselves of English’s inherent beauty and agility.” Consequently this group of people are trying to help rejuvenate the language by “advocating for words of style and substance that see far too little use.”

“The English language has perhaps more words in its lexicon than any other,” said Jerry Herron, dean of WSU’s Irvin D. Reid Honors College and a member of the Word Warriors editorial board. “By making use of the repertoire available to us, we expand our ability to communicate clearly and help make our world a more interesting place. Bringing these words back into everyday conversation is just another way of broadening our horizons.”

One way this group of scholars in Detroit helps us to expand your vocabulary is through their annual list of words that we either have never known or have forgotten. They recently released their ninth annual list of words worthy of returning to regular use.

Here’s the words they recommend you start using:

Acedia: Spiritual or mental sloth; apathy.

Anfractuous: Indirect and containing bends, turns or winds; circuitous.

Blithering: Senselessly talkative, babbling; used chiefly as an intensive to express annoyance or contempt.

Bombinate: Buzz; hum.

Bucolic: Of or relating to the pleasant aspects of the countryside and country life.

Effulgent: 1. Shining brightly; radiant. 2. (Of a person or their expression) emanating joy or goodness.

Gauche: Lacking ease or grace; unsophisticated and socially awkward.

Guttle: To eat or drink greedily and noisily.

Mugwump: A person who remains aloof or independent, especially from party politics.

Stultify: Cause to lose enthusiasm and initiative, especially as a result of a tedious or restrictive routine.

You can pursue the meaning of these words and their proper use in a sentence if you wish. Then when you use them in conversation your friends and acquaintances will be impressed- or at least confused.

Although they have not been a part of my vocabulary, most of these words can be applied to my life in one way or another. There is no doubt that at times I am guilty of acedia. I certainly am blithering and gauche at times. I have been known to guttle. These are not very complimentary but can be used to accurately describe me and my behavior. But I think the one word that applies to me for which I offer no apology is mugwump.

I have never been called a mugwump (probably because most folks don’t know the word) but that is who I am, or try to be. I am not a person without an opinion. As a matter of fact, I have an opinion on just about everything and all too often I am willing to express it. However, it is clear to me that others have opinions that are different from mine and that is alright with me. I know that I can be wrong or that another opinion might offer a better or complimentary perspective.

While I hope my thoughts and opinions are respected, I make no claim to having a corner on the market of truth or wisdom. Mutual respect is very important and often I find that is often a missing ingredient in “party politics.” Elections, legislation, budgets, personnel, and a host of other issues tend to divide us in both secular and sacred settings.

 

 

If recognizing that the other person (or party) might have a better idea makes me a mugwump, this is who/what I am. I want to be willing to listen respectfully and when I disagree to be careful not to demonize the other person or ridicule their perspective.

As much as it is possible I want to live in peace with my fellow human beings loving them and respecting them at all times. I think that is what Jesus meant when he instructed us to “love one another… just as I have loved you” (John 13:34). And it is in keeping with the Apostle Peter’s admonition to “love one another, and be kind and humble with one another” (I Peter 3:8).

Jamie Jenkins

 

 

 

 

 

In today’s world it is certainly an advantage if you can communicate in more than one language.

Word 3

My grandchildren (ages 9 and 12) are bilingual. They were born in Tokyo and lived there until 18 months ago. Consequently their first language is Japanese although they are very fluent in English. A couple of years ago my grandson said he wanted to learn Chinese. When asked why he replied, “When Mom and Dad don’t want us to know what they are saying, they speak in Chinese.” There are many reasons for wanting to be fluent in more than one language.

In a couple of weeks those grandchildren and their parents are moving to Spain to live for at least a year. Their English and Japanese, or the parents limited Chinese, will not be of much value to them in this new country, especially when the children enter Spain’s public schools. They will quickly learn that the ability to speak and understand Spanish would be a definite advantage.

I took three years of Spanish in high school many years ago. Recently my wife and I participated in two 10-week Spanish classes. I know a little about conjugation of verbs and recognize a lot of words and phrases but I cannot communicate very well in Spanish. The primary reason- I don’t use the language in my daily life. Most of what I learned a long time ago has been lost due to the failure to use it on a regular basis.

Of course words are not the only way to communicate. Language is not always verbal. A smile can speak volumes. An embrace or a thumbs-up can be very affirming. Listening attentively to another person’s expressions of grief, frustration, anger, or dreams can be therapeutic.

Word 2

As a matter of fact, words sometimes are the least effective means of communication. They are often perceived as being empty and meaningless, and sometimes they actually are. The effort to verbalize may in fact obstruct communication.

It has been said that actions speak louder than words. Of course, deeds don’t actually create sound but they can clearly demonstrate understanding, caring, and compassionate in ways that words alone cannot. The Apostle Paul said, “If I speak in tongues of human beings and of angels but I don’t have love, I’m a clanging gong or a clashing cymbal” (I Corinthians 13:1, Common English Bible).

Love in action 2

St. Francis of Assisi is often quoted as saying, “Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words if necessary.” There is a lack of evidence that indicates that he never actually said that. However, in his instructions on how the Franciscans should practice their preaching, he said, “All the Friars … should preach by their deeds.” Essentially he is saying make sure your deeds match your words.

 

Of all the languages we might learn and “speak”, perhaps the language of love is the most important. It always includes words and actions.

Love in action 3

Jamie Jenkins