Monday, September 22, 2008

Using Words

Having spent time in 3 widely separated Spanish speaking areas this summer, I've been amused at the words that are different. To the left you see an orange tree (I hope), a "naranja" in Mexico or "china" here in Puerto Rico. This is true especially of foods--"mani" here, "cacahuate" in Mexico (peanut in English). Avocado is aguacate here, "palta" in S. America. Car tires are respectively: llantas (Mexico), gomas (PR) and cauchos (Venezuela). So even though everyone is speaking the same language, some words may not be understood in one area, although common in another.
The Bible employs a huge vocabulary, using the most appropriate word in each place, and many of those words are not used in everyday conversation--when was the last time you talked to someone about "propitiation" or "omnipotent"? Then some of these words have little or no meaning to non-Christians. In Caribbean politics, a favorite campaign phrase is "keep the faith". If the candidates actually have positions (or a platform) this might have some application, but usually they are running solely on their personality (as well as free food and liquor) so just what "faith" are their followers to keep?
Sometimes we use Bible words without defining them, leaving others wondering what we mean. Brother Hardeman said, "Never underestimate the ignorance of your audience". Too many times we use words our friends don't understand and are then surprised "they didn't learn anything". I'm not suggesting we use other words, although sometimes there are synonyms that are better understood, but that we define our words as necessary.

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