THE DEGENERATION OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE

By a Pastor

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.

Henry 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 associate.

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.” Selah.

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 adultery).

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.

At the 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 his name.

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.

The 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).

Ask the 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 word.

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 a fool.

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 his own.

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 blush.

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 presentation.

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 truth.

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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