aefenglommung (aefenglommung) wrote,

Irritating speech habit

I've been leading a Bible study from the new publisher, Seedbed. It features a professor from Asbury Seminary/Orlando, Brian Somebody-or-other. I found Session Four's video presentation hard to listen to. Why?

Because he keeps avoiding the use of personal pronouns for God. "God shows God's whatever" gets old after a while. About 27-29 minutes into the video, he finally lapsed and used his/him about 3 times. It was a relief.

The English language uses personal pronouns in a number of ways, including the avoidance of too frequent use of antecedent nouns. English finds it a fault to over-use a noun. The repetition grates. This is especially true when the personal pronoun would come in an unstressed position, where "his" (for instance) would be barely heard as "'z."

English is, at bottom, still tied to the rhythms we find in OE alliterative meter. The flow of stresses in a sentence is a basic part of English as it is spoken or declaimed (this includes preaching and lecturing). To use "God's" constantly introduces a stressed element into the flow of the sentence that breaks it up. Which means it's fine to use "God's" when you want the extra stress in the line, or to make a distinction (God's, not somebody else's), but it's a fault to put one there that makes your speech clunky. It's like dropping anvils for your audience to stub their toes on.

This kind of picky speech pattern where one avoids using masculine pronouns to refer to God is a particularly irritating form of political correctness. It may show forth your sensitivity to some things, but it doesn't do much to demonstrate your mastery of the English language. I'm surprised to find an Asburian hung up on it.

  • Church and Scouting Update

    I continue to field calls – and make calls – from/to United Methodist pastors and Scouters regarding the bishop’s letter urging them not to renew…

  • Point of view in LOTR

    One of the achievements of The Lord of the Rings is its complicated narrative architecture. Stories are interlaced and we follow, now this sub-plot,…

  • Arthur contra mundum

    The consensus opinion among Tolkien critics -- including those who greatly admire his work -- is that The Lord of the Rings is slow to get going,…

  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.