DEGENERATION OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE
Much has been written about the fact that the English
language reached its peak during the century in which the Authorized Version was
produced. Since that time our language has degenerated in two notable ways.
First, the meaning of words has been debased. The downward course of human
devil-ution has pulled many words down from their lofty definitions into the mire
of modern speech.
Second, men have attempted to cover this degeneracy
by attaching noble words and terms to ignoble things and actions.
Let us take up the second of these matters first.
Americans are so
intent upon flattering themselves and exalting their positions (see Isaiah 14:12-15)
that they can no longer call things by their right and proper names. What is mundane
and common is renamed in order to sound valuable or impressive.
is the modern American. His house trailer has become a mobile home and the mobile
home has become manufactured housing.
In front of the manufactured
house is not a used car but a pre-owned vehicle. At the curb are not garbage cans
but waste receptacles. These have not been put out for the trash collector or
garbage man but have been readied for retrieval by the sanitation engineer, not
to be hauled to the dump but to be transferred to the sanitary landfill.
Out of the window comes, not the smell of coffee, but the aroma of java
or espresso. Sitting at the table is Henry. He is not a salesman but a marketing
representative. If he has one more good week he can earn the title of merchandising
Though he works dirt cheap he doesn't know it, for he is
told he is earning "above the minimum wage" and every other Friday he receives,
not pay but, compensation.
The company takes five percent of his paycheck
and deposits it in their bank accounts, but Henry doesn't mind for he has been
told this makes him a corporate partner.
Today Henry has to leave
work early and go to the doctor's office. But this routine trip has been upgraded
to a visit to the wellness center.
To make sure he is on time he looks
at his time piece (formerly a watch).
Upon arrival he is greeted by
a receptionist. This an attractive female with false hair color, false eyelashes,
false fingernails, and figure enhancing undergarments who has been through six
weeks of psychological training to enable her to convince Henry that this business
thrives on honesty.
The customer (upgraded to patient) has to prepare
the doctor I'm sorry, the health care professional, for their "visit." So Henry
fills out a questionnaire, which is now known as a personal profile data sheet,
not with a pen, but with a writing instrument.
This visit over, Henry
meets his domestic partner for a dining experience. This was once known as meeting
your wife for supper.
The service is terrible but this is not because
the waiter is a stupid teenager but because the server is an academically challenged
adolescent. At the end of the meal his wife shames him into leaving an unearned
(don't say tip) gratuity.
The next day Henry must take a trip. He
will not fly in a plane but on an airliner. There will be no stewardess but a
flight attendant. Before the flight they will review safety procedures, a cute
code name for crash preparation. Should this crash, read forced landing, take
place at sea it will not be a ditching, but a water landing. One airline's annual
report actually described a plane crash as "an involuntary conversion of a 727."
Once airborne, Henry will not be offered a plastic cup half
filled with soda which was donated for advertising purposes, but a complimentary
in-flight beverage service. This is offered with a smile (and .04 ounces of peanuts)
because he is not a customer, but a guest.
The business trip doesn't
turn out too well and Henry loses his employment opportunity. This is not as bad
as it used to be, for he was not fired but he simply had his employment terminated.
This was not because of poor sales but due to an account shortfall.
He goes home depressed and turns on the television. He watches a professional
reader, called a news anchor, try to sound concerned as he reports on urban unrest.
This used to be known as a race riot.
The anchor (1 guess he keeps
the news from floating away with the tide) also reports that the Defense Department,
which was once the Department of War, has begun a peace-keeping campaign, formerly
known as a war, by suppressing a target, which used to be called killing people.
Then a chief meteorologist (that's a weather reader) reports on rainfall,
now known as precipitation. It is obvious this man has been to the hair styling
salon, once known as a barber shop.
Next comes the sportscaster (How
do you cast sports?) who is the same as the news reader, only he shouts. "NATZIE
JABBAR SLAMS THE BALL DOWN HARD! WHOA!!"
Henry watches all this in
a semi-daze, convinced he is learning what's going on in the world.
After a few days of searching for a job, i.e., pursuing employment opportunities,
Henry is forced to relocate, formerly move.
In the next county he
takes a job as a janitor. This was humiliating until someone told him he was actually
a custodial engineer. However, he soon falls in with the wrong crowd and begins
using cocaine; in the modern vernacular, he becomes the victim of a controlled
substance. (Or, substance abuse)
This leads him to begin frequenting
adult entertainment complexes (filthy strip joints) in order to contact his supplier
(pusher). Here he becomes intoxicated (drunk), goes home (goes to a trashy motel)
with a queen-size (fat) working girl (whore) and has a one-night stand (commits
Four months later she is with child out of wedlock (pregnant,
illegitimately). She opts to terminate the pregnancy (murder the baby) in a family
planning center (abortion clinic). Henry is so distraught he takes his life. He
is taken to the undertaker. Oh, no, that's too graphic. He is taken to the mortician.
That's still much too plain. Here we go. He is taken to the funeral home (where
nobody lives) and prepared for interment (once called burial), by a perpetual
care counselor. The body will be laid to rest (formerly buried) in a memorial
garden (once a graveyard). This makes everyone feel better.
funeral some very nice words are spoken (Are you ready for this one?), not by
the preacher, but by the man of God.
This is the degeneration of language.
Words are robbed of their meanings as men seek to make vain and empty lives significant
by elevating the normal to the desirable, and thus perverting the language.
No thinking man could possibly have any confidence in a Bible written by
modern man, for modem man, in the language of modern man. This is a generation
which has no reverence for words, their meanings, or their usage.
The other way in which the language has degenerated is through the fall of words
from the nobility of their original meanings into the base and improper use made
of them by modern man.
Of those English words which have changed their
meaning since 1611, all have taken a turn for the worse. We never find a word
acquiring a higher meaning.
Prevent is a good Bible word (Job 3:12;
Psalms 59:10; 79:8; I Thessalonians 4:15; etc). It means to precede or go before.
Yet, because whenever one man got ahead of another it was generally to his own
advantage, and to the hindrance or hurt of the other, the word has taken on the
lower meaning of to stop someone or something from going forward.
Charity is a beautiful word taken from the old French charitet, which means dearness.
The word is used in the Authorized Version for the particular love between members
of the body of Christ. Charity is never used in the context of unbelievers (1
Corinthians 13; etc. See especially 1 Peter 4:8).
Because man has
sunk into a mercenary spirit and would rather throw a few dollars at someone's
need than bear his burden, charity has been limited to the realm of the collection
and distribution of money.
Yielding to this pressure the modern versions
have replaced the word charity with love, thus making the relationships believers
are to have with the lost the same as those they are to have with the brethren.
Any open-eyed observer can behold the fruits of this dreadful error.
Villain meant a servant of a villa, which is a country farm house.
The house has kept its good name, but the poor quality of the worker has degraded
In like manner a parasite was, in Greece. the one entrusted
with the care of the sacred granary, containing corn for the service of the gods.
Because such a man so often became a thief, taking that which he was supposed
to guard, the word has fallen to its current usage.
An apology once
stood for a defense, but because man's defenses of himself are usually so poor
the word has come to mean "Excuse me, please."
Censure was used of
judgment, which might be favorable or otherwise; but as most judgments were, of
necessity, unfavorable, the word has come to mean blame.
To take in
(as in Matthew 25:35) was long an act of hospitality. Since so many strangers
were robbed in one way or another, the term now means to deceive.
A libertine (Acts 6:9) was one of a class of freedmen who lived among the Romans.
Their character was such that the word came to denote a licentious use of liberty.
Story was originally a short form of history; but because so many
of man's reports proved false the word is now attached to fiction.
One of the finest of Bible words is believe. To believe is to stake one's very
soul to the given information, knowing it to be true.
In our day one
says, "I believe the library is just up the road, but I'm not sure." The word
believe is now used as an expression of doubt or uncertainty.
same can be said of hope. This word is used throughout the word of God as something
which is certainly true, though yet unseen (Romans 8:24-25).
man on the street if he is going to heaven and the standard answer of the new
American is a wistful, "I hope so." Hope has come to be a wish or longing, not
at all a certainty.
In King James' day cunning meant knowing. Yet,
man uses his knowledge for evil purposes and, as a result, the word has developed
its dark connotation.
Back to those workers. A knave was once a servant
boy. In the Wycliffe Bible Paul calls himself "a knave of Jesus Christ." Over
time the ethics of servant boys greatly altered the meaning of this once-noble
The Holy Bible calls out quit you like men (I Corinthians 16:13;
see also I Samuel 4:9), for there was a time when real men would not cease until
the labor was done or the battle won.
The word now speaks of giving
up and accepting defeat.
The simple, in scripture, are those without
guile and simplicity is openness and plain honesty. Because such people are not
worldly-wise and are, therefore, often abused, the wicked have made the word mean
Sottish (Jeremiah 4:22) is a good old Bible word which means
dull or stupid. The manners and practices of the drunkard have made this word
The Anglo-Saxon word for inoffensive and harmless was silly.
Since these persons are easy prey for Satan's brood the word has come to be used
of those who are easily duped.
There are no curse words left in our
language. The television and movie industry is left to take the most vile words
and repeat them dozens of times in order to gain "dramatic effect." Where a simple
"damn" once stirred the nation (Gone with the Wind), now nothing can make Americans
Damn is a clean word and a noble Biblical term. It is what
God will do to all those who reject His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. By reducing
this word to common slang, Satan has taken the stinging force out of the gospel
Hell is a place of burning, fiery torment, awaiting
those who are damned. It has been tossed about as an epithet for so long now that
no one takes it seriously.
Artillery was once any instrument made
by art. Yet, man's art is devoted primarily to killing. Almost all advances in
science and technology were originally for, or were perfected in, war. Thus, artillery
has become the standard term for weapons developed by the masters of war.
Next we have the word chef. This comes from a French word meaning chief
Since man has made a god of his belly, the one who satisfies his hunger lays claim
to this word.
In the word of God a scholar is a student, any student
in search of the truth (1 Chronicles 25:8; Malachi 2:12). In our day, men have
been persuaded that only paid professionals are to study and that commoners must
sit unquestioningly at their feet. Thus, the name of scholar is now limited to
a small company of those who have studied. All saved people are to be Biblical
scholars, but with the degeneration of our language few are aware of this important
No honest Christian would embrace a version of the Bible set
in the vernacular of the present age. Our language has followed our society down
into the gutter. Let us come out from among them and be separate.
If we must learn some new words and gain a proper education in grammar in order
to read the Book of Books produced at a time when our language was at its peak,
let us do so. May we climb the heights in pursuit of absolute truth rather than
sit carelessly in the depths of modern relativity.
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