Sunday, November 18, 2007

Religious Words

In the latest edition of the Word Nerds Dave and Barbara Shepherd discuss religious vocabulary that is featured in profane language. They relate how an evangelist is any bringer of good news, not just the gospel. A bible has become any kind of heavily thumped handbook, or reference guide. Needless to say, the references are mostly Christian, though I could have thought of some others. Next to paradise we could have had Mecca in a similar meaning; some place being the ultimate spot for a certain experience.

The rude word of the week (every three weeks an episode and still a word of the week) section dives in to all the connections with Holy: as in Holy Cow, Holy Moses and so on, till the PG 13 rating is warranted. Holy cannoli!

Just as they pointed out: the use of religiously associated words sort of erodes the load. I can see this especially clear if I literally translate some common Hebrew, rather day-to-day phrases in secular Israel into English or the even more secular Dutch. If you ask someone 'What's up', in Israel, you may get, even from secular people, an answer that is the equivalent of: Praise the Lord, or: God be blessed. It doesn't make you sound half as orthodox and observant as it looks.
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