Thursday, September 27, 2007

Words

Well this blog has been short of words for a while, but brevity is clearer.

If you are a new visitor to my blog you can read about my adventures in Siberia on another blog, but please send me an email first.

I have been thinking about words some more. Language and identity are closely intertwined. When we speak a word it is not simply an arbitrary sign post. Rather every word carries deeper meaning. A word carries heritage and history passed down from the pysche of one generation to the next. This means that a word can carry the emotions of our ancestors a thousand years ago. The same is true of rhymes and poems. Take for example the rhyme:

Ring a ring a rosy
A pocket full of posy
A tissue, a tissue
We all fall down

This is a rhyme that is handed on by children from one generation to the next, but not actually by adults. Children have no idea of it's deeper meaning, only its surface meaning. But the deeper meaning still exists within the psyche as these words are passed on. I remember thinking as a child "what does it mean, 'we all fall down'?" I did have some sense that it was not just falling on the ground in a game. This is fact a reference to the Beubonic plague of medieval times.

Individual words carry the same depth of meaning. The word "God" comes from the word "good." This is fairly apparent on the surface. But it is important that we are able to use a word from our own psyche to refer to the Creator.

I have been thinking about these issues as I realise that the Finns were influenced by the Swedes for 600 years when it came to religious concepts. I do not know enough about the Finnish language, but in discussion with Finns it is clear that some words are Finnish in origin and others are Swedish in origin.

My question and hypothesis is that it is better to use words that carry more heritage and a deeper meaning when referring to religious concepts. Thus it would be bette in Australia to say "Greater love has no man than he lay down his life for his mates." The word "mate" carries much deeper connotations for Australians, than the word friend.

Jesus is the true mate. He is my mate and I am his.

2 comments:

Nathan said...

That words carry the emotions of our ansestors (i.e. 'vermin', 'wench' & 'love') is an excellent point to raise. Although I'd noticed it from time to time you have stated it nicely, which helps to solidify it in the brain.

'Mate', on the other hand, can be used either as 'best mate', 'real mate', both of which mean a very close friend, or as 'maaate...' which means 'I want something from you'. 'Mate' is often used very casualy including to strangers and as a inclusive or semi-freindly means of referring to them (especially to non-aussies), even as a non-threating or threatening reference in an arguement; much in the same way as 'friend' was used in years gone by in other english-speaking nations.

And the bubonic plauge hypothesis has been debated, with derivations of the rhyme being found elsewhere with little or no apparent affinity with plauge or death.

These are minor points and your subject matter is rich and of great interest. Thank you again for raising helpful observations!

Nathan said...

Yes, the above completely misses the point. Jesus is our true mate, no matter what we go through.