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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...


 

Daily Boost

 

September 12, 2012 - Mukluk, Muktuk

By Scott Harrup

The English language is fluid and open to contributions from around the world. I was reminded of this while skimming through Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary the other day in search of mulligrubs — an appropriate word for many of my Mondays, and one, it turns out, that is not in my printed 11th edition dictionary, though found online. I took note of mukluk and muktuk just above the spot I had expected to find mulligrubs.

The two Native Alaskan terms are consecutively placed, giving them a little more prominence on the page. Mukluk is based on the Yupik word maklak, for bearded seal. It refers to a sealskin or reindeer-skin boot. Muktuk, derived from the Inuit maktak, is whale skin (or blubber) used for food.

Giving added evidence of the English propensity for inclusion, the three words preceding mukluk were also foreign entries: Muharram, the first month of the Islamic year; mujahideen, Islamic guerrilla fighters; and mujik, a Russian peasant.

The mixture of English and foreign languages works in the opposite direction as well. Driving home the other day, I listened to an NPR news item concerning the recent inclusion of “Espanglish” by the Royal Spanish Academy in the 2014 edition of its dictionary. The term gives an official nod to the practice by Spanish speakers of including English expressions where convenient in Spanish sentences. The English word describing the same practice, Spanglish, has a long-established spot in Merriam-Webster’s.

When our family lived in Kenya, I took Swahili for two years in junior high school. That language developed as Arab traders and slavers interacted with African people groups over the centuries. Arabic and a host of local dialects eventually blended into one of Africa’s major multinational tongues.

My musings on language naturally lean toward my own choice of words. As a parent, co-worker, friend, neighbor, or just the next guy in the checkout line, what am I thoughtfully or thoughtlessly saying to people around me?

The apostle James had this to say about what we say:

“With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water” (James 3:9-12, NIV).

— Scott Harrup is managing editor of the Pentecostal Evangel and blogs at Out There (sharrup.agblogger.org).

 

 

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