Speaking in tongues

I went to an Army presentation this evening.  I am probably one of the most unmilitary …. but I have genuine gratitude for all the years through which they made it possible to live a ‘normal’ life in Northern Ireland.  They also work hard at the skills of presentation.  I became fascinated by their distinctive use of language – ‘deploy’ as an intransitive verb; ‘theatre’ as a place in which tanks do their stuff – and so on.  Until, of course, I had a bit of a ‘mote and beam’ moment and began to reflect on the way in which we in the church take language and create our own patois.  The lower slopes are words like ‘outreach’ and ‘fellowship’.  My favourite is ‘collaborative’ which we use in a postive sense.  And to be fair my OED only lists ‘cooperating traitorously with the enemy’ as the second meaning.


  1. Yes – as in: ‘I found myself in bed with my seketry. It just sort of happened.’ Slightly different is the summing up of the totality of human experience as, ‘Stuff Happens.’ Best of all is today’s use of the word ‘random’ – which I do not fully understand. Ask your children.

  2. My favourite is the use of the word “happening” to distance oneself from things which are, in fact, our responsibility, as in “My essay doesn’t seem to be happening yet”.

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