Slang

Slang depreciates the value of cor­rect language to the same degree that a counterfeit dollar depreciates the government dollar, or the hyp­ocrite depreciates the influence of the Christian. Yet many who profess to be the genuine teachers and shepherds of the Lord's flock manifest a flagrant disregard for the correct use of words.

By P.T. Gibbs

Slang depreciates the value of cor­rect language to the same degree that a counterfeit dollar depreciates the government dollar, or the hyp­ocrite depreciates the influence of the Christian. Yet many who profess to be the genuine teachers and shepherds of the Lord's flock manifest a flagrant disregard for the correct use of words.

A conference president was heard to remark that he got a "kick" out of a certain experience. Now this word "kick" displaces a score or more of such respectable words as thrill, pleas­ure, satisfaction, delight, gladness, joy, enjoyment, comfort, happiness, felic­ity, contentment, gratification, recom­pense, compensation, amends, pay­ment, remuneration, exultation, rap­ture, bliss, or merriment. By such substitution of one slang word for twenty correct words which are clear and definite in their meaning, there, is a general gradual depreciation of the fine shades of meaning expressed by synonymous words; and year by year this fluctuating substitution process, multiplied by scores and hundreds of counterfeit words in daily use, devi­talizes the power of human speech.

Even from the pulpit have been heard such slang expressions as, "I did not get a bid" (meaning invita­tion), or "That was a slam on me" (meaning reproof or reflection), and other similar statements made in such an inelegant or arbitrary manner as to betray habit. Such disregard for the sacred influence of words takes on a more serious aspect when one recalls the admonition, "Let your com­munication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these com­eth of evil." Matt. 5: 37. This scripture implies that a man should say what he means. But the person who mixes slang in his sentences does not do this. He speaks in "dark sayings," which require that the listener shall understand the "code" or be left to his own conjecture as to the intended meaning.

Accidents in speech occur the same as in other things; but not in every instance is the accident due to igno­rance, but rather to a willful violation of the proprieties of speech. In such a case the use of slang is un-Chris­tian. David had come in contact with persons who made it a practice to "speak vanity," and said, "Our lips are our own: who is lord over us?" His conduct is in sharp contrast, for he said: "I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue: I will keep my mouth with a bridle, while the wicked is before me." Jesus said, "By thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be con­demned." Therefore, the Christian should be satisfied with nothing less than perfection in speech.

One of Satan's most insidious snares for the defeat of a Christian's teach­ing and influence is carelessness in the use of language, and allowing slang words to find a place in the vo­cabulary. Clean speech is as the shib­boleth by which spiritual Israel will be distinguished from the slang-using Ephraimites at the entrance to the heavenly Canaan.

College Place, Wash.


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By P.T. Gibbs

August 1931

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