That Two-Syllable Word

PEOPLE who speak (and who doesn't?) often use a mangled word that is so overworked that it becomes annoying and objectionable. I refer to the perfectly good word and. to which the second syllable a or uh has been added. . .

-Pastor, Sonoma, California, at the time this article was written

PEOPLE who speak (and who doesn't?) often use a mangled word that is so overworked that it becomes annoying and objectionable. I refer to the perfectly good word and. to which the second syllable a or uh has been added.

This little word, anduh travels all over the world. It is found in the best of company. It comes rolling out of the mouths of the elite and the educated. It leaps out of the television set and floats in by radio. It seems perfectly at home with Senators, governors, radio announcers, and speakers in all walks of life. Statesmen, lawyers, even presidents make "anduh" a part of their daily vocabulary.

Religious speakers use "anduh" freely in their radio programs and from their pulpits. It is a versatile word that may be pronounced in many ways. At times it is a short, snappy "anda" with equal emphasis on each syllable. Or the first syllable may be short and the second long and drawn out, like this "and-a-a-a-h." Or the speaker may prolong both syllables this way "a-a-n-n-d-d-u-u-u-h." In such cases it would be more effective to have a moment of silence!

Why Does It Happen?

There are two main reasons why "an duh" is used so often. First, the speaker gets into a careless habit. Sometimes it becomes such a deep-seated habit that the preacher doesn't know he is using it, while his long-suffering congregation inwardly groan each time he repeats the word. Young preachers should deter mine to eliminate this word fault at an early stage.

Lack of preparation is the second reason for the too-frequent use of this word. The preacher is not prepared. He is not completely ready to deliver his sermon. He hesitates, his mind wanders, he wonders what should come next. A nice, long "a-n-d-uh-uh-uh" gives him a little extra time to collect his thoughts, to find the next word, or call to mind the next idea. Such empty interludes are spawned on the chilly surface of a mind not on fire -with the wonders of his message.

This "anduh" word also serves as a filler. Years ago, as a hospital purchasing agent, I bought many linen items. I soon learned to watch for sizing. We called it filler. The linens might look thick, strong, and heavy until rubbed briskly or put through a washer. Then they often looked shoddy and cheap. The filler covered a multitude of weak spots and careless work. Could it be that the filler "a-n-d-uh-uh-uh" might reveal weaknesses and preparation defects?

Effective Preaching

An effective speech or sermon may be likened to strong, virile seeds, filled with the germ of life. The preacher plants these fertile seeds through his words, and they are watered by the Holy Spirit. Vigorous spiritual plants should reward his efforts. But there is no germ of life in "anduh." It is sterile, a waste word. In fact, it may detract to such an extent that the good seed will be unable to grow.

Some preachers are not troubled with this problem. I did some keen listening and now I know why. Invariably such men knew their subject well; they had their texts, their facts, their illustrations, well organized. Their minds didn't do any extracurricular traveling, they were certain they had an important message and they went about giving it in a business like way.

When we are complying with the command to "feed my sheep" let's make sure that the needy creatures get a good, life-giving diet, unmixed with the chaff of this overworked, two-syllable word.

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-Pastor, Sonoma, California, at the time this article was written

November 1972

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