Let's take the word LIKE. It used to only be used when making a comparison between two objects. "You're beginning to look just like your mother!" Or, it was used to indicate a preference. "I like blue better than orange."
Now, it's used every other word and has become almost useless. "Like...you know...like...yesterday at the store...like...I saw this little boy that was...like...acting really bad." I don't exaggerate.
I have a heart for young mothers and enjoy their company. I figure that as a mother of five and grandmother of four, I might have some insights that could help them on their own journeys. So I spend time with them whenever I can. But get a few of them together, and they immediately become a bunch of valley girls. Every other word is "like". It makes me crazy. I can't even have a decent conversation I get so discombobulated.
And how about awesome? That used to be a word that meant something much bigger than good or great. You used it to describe God. Now it just means "cool". I mean "totally cool". That's another one; totally.
Words are so important and should be chosen with care. The Bible speaks about words and their importance in many, many passages. That one word 'WORD' takes up four big pages in Strong's Exhaustive Concordance. Jesus is THE WORD. Words have power to heal or to destroy.
Reading this morning in Walking on Water by Madeleine L'Engle, I had many 'Aha!" moments. One thing I like is her ability to take all the unformed thoughts swirling around in my cauldron-like head and put them into words that make sense and help me understand myself better. There again, words have power.
Here's what she says about the power of language. "We cannot Name or be Named without language. If our vocabulary dwindles to a few shopworn words, we are setting ourselves up for takeover by a dictator. When language becomes exhausted, our freedom dwindles--we cannot think; we do not recognize danger; injustice strikes us as no more than "the way things are". I might even go to the extreme of declaring that the deliberate diminution of vocabulary by a dictator, or an advertising copywriter, is anti-Christian." Pretty strong words with which I happen to agree.
Along those same lines, she says, "In times of war language always dwindles, vocabulary is lost; and we live in a century of war. This diminution is worldwide. In Japan, after the Second World War, so many written characters were lost that it is difficult, if not impossible, for the present-day college student to read the words of the great classical masters." Russia has had the same problem. So it has always been. She gives Dante and others as examples of being preservers of language in times of war.
A few more words from the same book..."We think because we have words, not the other way around. The more words we have, the better able we are to think conceptually." She also talks about the changing of the Book of Common Prayer, hymns, Shakespeare, and the King James Bible. But don't get me started THERE!