Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Betraying a Limited Vocabulary

I recently was at an Urban Outfitters and found a trendy little vocabulary book, which was in the clearance section as I suppose being intellectual is once again moving out of popularity. Well, I opened to the "V" section and was disappointed to discover there was only one word on two pages I did not immediately recognize or even use regularly in conversation. As my friends with more well-endowed diction (such as Toto, Sonium, Darren, or Jon) will readily testify, my linguistic arsenal is fairly limited, yet I aced this simple test. So basically, I came to the conclusion that at some point elementary vocabulary was redefined as advanced.

The following Harold Best quote seems to be especially pertinent.

"Mass culture is a culture that has lost this kind of love and respect for its language. It is a culture marked by the demise of a reverence for words and for their careful placement within an idea and its articulation. This demise cannot be fully understood without the recognition that the loss of a truth center allows us to use words not only untruthfully but also with carelessness and little thought of accountability... No words are left to express magnificence without resorting to the same words with which we have described the commonplace...

To what extent do we Christians pledge ourselves to forsake verbal worldliness- taking language in vain- and discipline ourselves so thoroughly as to be able to go into every catechetical and creedal corner and ever societal setting to articulate, eloquently and precisely, what it means to explore the full counsel of God and articulate this to a culture that has lost itself in meaninglessness?"

- Unceasing Worship (192-194)


laceylou said...

This post reminds me of Wendell Berry's poem, "Some Further Words." You should check it out sometime. My favorite line states, "The world is babbled to pieces after the divorce of things from their names."

michael said...

Wow. That's killer. Do you have any books by Wendell Berry? I've only heard good things.

laceylou said...

I have three. :) All of which are poetry books, but he writes essays and fiction stories as well. You're more than welcome to borrow them sometime.

Berry is basically baller.

michael said...

Baller enough to warrant triple alliteration? My interest is piqued.