Some time ago the Ministry appealed to our workers for uniformity and accuracy in the correct spelling of our denominational name, "Seventh-day Adventist." The response was gratifying; church bulletin boards, advertising circulars, and official stationery showing manifest improvement.
Periodically since then our attention has been directed to a diversity in the pronunciation of our distinctive name, "Adventist." The majority have ever put the accent on the first syllable,—Ad'ventist,—but a persistent minority place it upon the second,— Ad-veneist,—stoutly maintaining that a respectable percentage follow that form.
To put it to a test, we took a poll of an impartially representative group of leaders in General Conference, division, union, and local conference, and among English teachers and editors. Polls of sentiment or practice have an undeniable value. They aid in settling certain types of questions wherein majorities have a proper place in the determination, and they often silence misapprehensions.
The response from our workers was no exception to the rule. Of the ninety-one returns to date, eighty-five are firmly for Ad'ventist, and but six for Ad-veneist. And this, we believe, is fairly indicative of the general proportions in the diverse pronunciations.
A few of the details may be of interest. Among thirty General Confer. ence workers, twenty-nine placed the accent on the first syllable, and one on the second. Among twenty-five English teachers, twenty-four say Adventist, and one Ad-vent'ist. Among fourteen editors, eleven are for the majority accent, and three prefer the minority form. One college English teacher put the question to ninety-two of his students, and reports seventy-nine favoring Adventist and thirteen Ad-veneist. The relationship of experience and wider culture to the question is thus interestingly reflected in the larger proportion among the youth who follow the more careless form.
While our chief attention should ever be centered upon essentials, yet even in technicalities we should seek for that accuracy which is in harmony with the great message we bear, and to forestall any prejudice on the part of those who might be affected by carelessness in even small detail. The external niceties should ever harmonize with the blessed inner realities of the movement we love. In matters of teaching there may be legitimate diversity in detail, but surely in the pronunciation of our denominational name there should be marked uniformity. Let us stand a unit here. We are Ad'ventists, and grateful to be such.
There is one observation that may not be out of place here. Not a few of the returns gave as the reason for accent on the first syllable that it is so cited in Webster, or some other standard dictionary. Yet as a matter of truth, in a case of this character, dictionaries are designed to reflect the best usage of the group who have a right to determine the pronunciation, rather than to create an arbitrary form. In other words, the usage of the denomination involved is the criterion which guides the dictionary maker in coming to his conclusions.
The response of one of our leading college English teachers, Prof. Charles E. Weniger, of Washington Missionary College, will form an appropriate conclusion to this brief appeal.
L. E. F.