Musings on Mormonism

I’m anti-made-up-words!

It annoys me when people make up words unnecessarily and then think they’re speaking intelligently. For instance, although I’ve heard both “impactful” and “orientate” used many times in academic settings, and despite the fact that actually recognizes these “words”, they are actually just made up, but more importantly, they sound dumb and are unnecessary! According to Paul Brian’s “Common Errors in English”, what people actually mean by “impactful” is already handled very nicely (which is to say, conveys the meaning without sounding stupid) by the words “effective” and “influential”. In my Organizational Psychology class, our grad student teacher repeatedly used the word “orientate” or even “orientated” (which I think is flagrantly erroneous), and I cringed every time but didn’t have the heart or the guts to challenge him on it. In actuality, “orient” works just fine, for, according to, “orientate” is at best “a back-formation used humorously to make the speaker sound pompous. The correct word is the verb orient.” As a perfectionistic blue personality, I take note of such seemingly minor things as made up words, plus paying attention to words is good practice for going into law 🙂

Also, in regards to the prefix “anti”, I learned something interesting in a New Testament class the other day: in the original Greek, “anti” denotes not outright opposition as it does in modern English but rather a substitution. Thus, when the scriptures (those originally written from this Greek perspective, anyway) speak of “anti-Christs”, they’re not strictly talking about some sort of person who is diametrically opposed to Christ’s divine mission as is usually portrayed in movies and sensational History Channel programs, but really are referring to any idea, person, or object which offers itself as a substitute for the grace, mercy, and redemption offered through the Atonement of Jesus Christ on conditions of our repentance. The fact that this Greek notion of anti-Christ is not necessarily an embodied being does not make it any less spiritually dangerous, and in fact makes it more prevalent!

This is a great example of why interpretation of scripture matters, and I find it somewhat problematic when people dismiss the issue of translation, instead insisting that scripture as it exists in the King James Bible is perfectly translated, thus leaving us with a complete and fully elucidated canon of scripture. That’s the feeling I got with the guy on Wednesday’s CNN-YouTube Republican Debate who kept shoving his Bible into the screen and echoing the mantra “Do you believe every word in this book?”; I admired his enthusiasm for the KJV Bible, but thought he was pushing for a too-literal interpretation of the Bible as we now have it. However, I thought each candidate who addressed the question answered well, and I saw much merit to each answer. Like Romney, I absolutely believe that the Bible is the word of God “as far as it is translated correctly” (Articles of Faith 1:8) – the caveat about translation is not to withhold complete acceptance of God’s revealed word, but to acknowledge that the Bible we now have came to us through the generally well-meaning but nevertheless fallible efforts of scholars and committees. Without equivocation, I can say that when it is “translated correctly”, the Bible is an incredibly rich source of doctrine and inspiration, and that absolutely includes the Old Testament, which I think many Christians, including myself and my fellow Mormons, are inclined to overlook because it is so hard to understand without a firm background in the relevant cultural, religious, and historical contexts which allow for accurate translation.

Anyway, I think this post has gotten long enough 🙂


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  1. * Christie says:

    I share your pain, B. I have to control the urge to slap people silly when they use “acrosst” in lieu of the perfectly reasonable “across.” It kills me every time.

    | Reply Posted 10 years, 6 months ago
  2. * cloud9a says:

    The one that bugs me most is “ironical”…

    | Reply Posted 10 years, 6 months ago
  3. * Mish says:

    I used ‘malapropist’ today. Just ask Tiff, she knows. Now I feel guilt.

    | Reply Posted 10 years, 6 months ago
  4. * zugman says:

    Yeah, it takes a special kind of person to say “ironical” in all sincerity and with a straight face. As for “malopropist”, I’ll have to ask Tiff. It would be funny and ironic if your usage of “malopropism” was itself a malopropism!

    | Reply Posted 10 years, 6 months ago
  5. * hydralisk says:

    Made-up words don’t bother me. If/when they become part of the language they stop sounding weird. Your grandkids are gonna think ‘impactful’ sounds perfectly normal (but will have to look up ‘influential’ in a dictionary if they ever come across it).

    What bothers me are words that ALREADY EXIST and are used to mean something new in addition to what they already mean, potentially creating confusion. For instance, ‘notebook’. A notebook is not electronic! It is something you use a pencil to write in!

    | Reply Posted 10 years, 6 months ago
  6. * zugman says:

    True that, man! We can’t let English-speaking extremists, especially those Microsoft bigwigs, hijack our language!

    | Reply Posted 10 years, 6 months ago

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