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  • Writer's pictureLaura Kae

Influencers: A Way with Words

One of the surprising influences on my study of theology and history is A Way with Words, a radio show/podcast about the history of the English language. There are obvious benefits to studying how language changes over time like understanding that the use of the word “wonderful” in Anne of Green Gables means something different than it means in the Twilight series simply because of the hundred years between the writing of the books.

The show has informed my understanding translation decisions in a way I would not understand had I only taken classes in seminary. Language changes. It's important to remember. As it does now, so it did then. Only I think most of the population not being able to read and write might contribute to it changing even more then than it does now and having much more variation from one side of a continent to another!

The show has done other things for me like help me be curious of everyone's dialect and lose self-consciousness over my own. I was raised without modern media except for occasionally listening to the on-the-hour news on the radio. I said things different than people around me, certainly different than the white-collar people in the East coast cities I moved to.

Then, my not knowing how to pronounce things in a way that made such people accept me drove me into shyness. Now, I'm pretty comfortable with the way I talk and almost never get self-conscious about how I pronounce a word. Except for woman and origin. The latter I wonder if I finally say it correctly without thought or if people just quit looking at me weird for no reason. The former I apparently say weird according to everyone, but I can't hear the difference with my own ears. Thankfully most people don't point it out.

And the best part about the show? It's not slow and boring. It's filled with short anecdotal stories from history about how the daily lives of people and empires collide. That sounds nerdy not fun. Let's try again. It's filled with stories of family, friends, and feuds. That's better.

Happy listening! And if you become a fan, let me know. We could start a club! Oh, wait! There's a Facebook group for that.


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