An Open Reply

An Open Reply to Questionnaire on Pronunciation of the Denom­inational Name "Adventist"

The pronunciation of our denominational name.

By Charles E. Weniger

Suppose that a certain family of the great tribe of Joneses should suddenly decide to leave the time-honored pro­nunciation of its name and pronounce it in two syllables as if it were spelled Jonese'. Would it have the right to do so? Of course it would. But would its decision be wise? Emphatically, no. Why? Because generations of usage have established the old pronun­ciation, and a change would savor of affectation, of the grotesque, of a desire to be different merely for the sake of being different—an evil always to be shunned.

Take, analogously, the case of our de­nominational name "Adventist." The standard pronunciation of the term "Adventist" places the accent on the first syllable. Exhaustive research fails to find any authority for putting the accent on the second syllable. Is it wise, then, that any of us should attempt to change the accented pro­nunciation of the name? Would not such an attempt bring us into disre­pute with thinking people, who are always conservative, and so cast re­proach upon our teachings?

Moreover, what point lies in our changing the pronunciation of a com­mon adjective merely for purposes of denominational use, especially when we are only one of a number of organ­izations employing the same designa­tion? If, even by common denomina­tional consent, we should adopt the pronunciation Advent'ist, we should find ourselves saying ad'ventist when using the word in its common signifi­cation, Advent'ist when referring to our own organization, and Ad'ventist when referring to other bodies believ­ing in the doctrines of the near advent of Christ. How absurd!

But there is still a better reason for our clinging to the established form, Ad'ventist. It is this: For many years there has been a tendency among care­less, slack users of English to slip the accent toward the end of certain words, whereas good taste has pre­ferred to soften the sound of such words by keeping the accent near the beginning; e. g., careful speakers say indis'putable, not indisput'able; irrev' ocable, not irrevoc'able, exquisite, not exquis'ite; mis'chievous, not mischiev- ous; and Ad'ventist, not Advent'ist.

Brethren, let us "prove all things" and "hold fast that which is good," even in matters of pronunciation.

Takoma Park, D. C.


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By Charles E. Weniger

February 1931

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