Thursday, February 21, 2008

Words Matter

I doubt anyone disputes this, but I'm a little hung up on this for one particular reason, that I may have blogged about in the past, or may simply have thought I blogged about. But I ran into it again today - THEN vs. THAN. These two words are NOT synonymous. They have vastly different meanings, and much greater differences than the single vowels that separate them.

THEN is a marker of time. THAN is a comparison.

I know that in our hasty wired world people shoot off e-mail and blog posts & responses without too much thought. But PLEASE, can you do at least a little grammar work and know the difference between these two words? Yes, it annoys me when I continually have to work out what people say in their electronic transmissions. Take a few extra seconds and proof read what you submit - it'll be all the better.

Now, I recognize that I've got my own problems. I've got my own mistakes I'm sure I commonly make. I continually find errors in my own work that I have to edit, so I'm the pot calling the kettle black. And right now, I'm letting off a little steam.

But this leads me to a little theological thought. I had a conversation yesterday, which referenced the slogan "theology matters" and called into question whether it was really ever a question. Yes, theology matters, but what KIND of theology matters - and practice matters too. And this goes right into the current debate between potential presidential nominees in the US. Whether it's real or perceived, there's a question of whether we're hearing pretty words or real substance. And so my thought is this: At the end of the day, "mere words" will not be enough to make a real change - whether you're talking politically or spiritually. And that's why Christ DIED. And was resurrected for that matter. Words aren't enough by themselves. HOWEVER, everything begins with words, and if the right words are absent, or misused, the resulting behaviour cannot help but be corrupt.

John reminds us that THE Word began it all. The least we can do is have some reverence for our own words, and to make sure that our actions and our thoughts behind them match the words we use. Which reminds me, I've got to finish that book in the next 6 days...


notashot said...

No one likes a grammar Nazi.

That being said, I agree theology matters.

But if Barack Obama has revealed anything about Americans it's that we prefer platitudes.

Higgins said...

Thanks for this post, Don! You've sparked me to write a my own post in response to the matter.

One thing that peeves me off in speech is the incorrect use of personal pronouns and reflexive pronouns. So often I hear statements like this: "There will be a meeting today at 2 o'clock. I would like everyone to meet myself at the office." People in the profession world seem to think that it is threatening to others to use the word "ME" in a sentence, so they use the word "MYSELF".

Here's another: "Just between you and I, there's a real problem here." Why can't people use the word "ME"? Does "ME" just sound too selfish? I don't know...

Kellen said...

The Word's words do, indeed, matter. Or, perhaps better, the Word's words are the new matter.

; )

jlee said...

Very true Don. In fact, I run the other way. If I come across a word choice, then I often choose a different word all-together. For instance, I struggled with the difference between "further" and "farther" until recently. In the past, if I started a sentence and realized that the word was coming up then I would change the topic altogether or use another phrase (one that was probably much more awkward than figuring out the difference).