Friday, August 31, 2007

The Artery of Language

The quote below is an unintended insight I came across when looking for something else in a highly recommended book called Death Sentences (by Don Watson), a serious critique of how political- and business-speak are damaging language and its use in public dialogue.
[A] cathedral is the property of the church, whereas a language belongs to civilization, and if [language] is dragged down it takes civilization with it. Language is not just a preserver or bearer of tradition. Words do more than the elemental thing of linking one generation to another. The great works of public language like the Book of Common Prayer are poetic works. In the poetry is the mystery with which religion is concerned and on which it depends. . . . Many churchpeople will tell you that when it adopted everyday modern prose, the church cut off an artery to its soul.
I would extrapolate a bit and say: The style of scripture, in other words, is part of the message and the lasting hope that what the words say will always have a chance at influencing people because of how they are stated.

2 Comments:

Anonymous irving said...

I couldn't agree more. The dumbing down of language, especially in beautifully poetic religious texts is like translating Shakespeare into common idiomatic English. Now that would be a tragedy, like some English translations of the Qur'an for the layman. It is the language that engages the mind and fires the soul.

Ya Haqq!

8/31/2007 9:31 PM  
Blogger zanjabil said...

Words are of sacred origin. Our modern lanugage is a mere corruption of the original language of Adam (peace be upon him) and of revelations to the other prophets (peace to them all). In my view the more different translations of the Quran and the Bibles, the better. Because each one opens another layer of meaning. But when we want the real thing, we return to the source -- in the source language.

9/08/2007 11:22 AM  

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