On Talking

I’m wearing down. I’ve been studying Hebrew nearly all day. I figure I have one more round of flashcards in me after I write this. Then the big final is in the morning.

This wraps up my third semester of studying ancient biblical languages (though, unlike Koine Greek, Hebrew is alive and well). I love it. Really, I do. I even switched my degree program and concentration so that I take more languages. But I have one big beef with the way the material is being presented. Often times we are told something like, “So because of this, then, we know we’re working with a nominative noun, and that’s how we know he meant ‘ship’.” Or what have you.

That’s flatly wrong. Grammar does not give words their meaning, we do. Grammar is a tool we invented to help communicate meaning, but at the end of the day, we give words their meaning–you and I.

Words are not transcendent. They are here. They are mine and they are yours. They are me. They are you.

Do you understand my words?

We are each responsible for our words’ meaning. It’s not like there are a bunch of words floating around and we just grab them out of the air and order them in some aurally or visually pleasant manner–no. We have something to say (or not) and then we begin to utter the words within us. Where do we get new words? People. How do we know what the new words mean? People tell us.

Looking for fun in unexpected places? Join me in telling “men of letters” that they give their words meaning. Sheesh. It’s like I was arguing for flat earth or something. It is quite frustrating. The more “educated” someone is, the more they desire, perhaps unwittingly, to turn words into numbers. Folks want each word to mean one thing and only one thing. This desire and the attempt to manifest the desire is selfish. By calling it selfish, I do mean to communicate clearly that I believe it is downright evil.

To be sure, if you’re ever confused about what I meant, just ask. I will tell you what my words mean. If I’m confused and ask what you meant, then you tell me what your words mean. This back and forth is called talking.

Welcome to Erff.

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5 comments

  1. gmgoetz

    😀 Agree completely. The more educated a person is, the more confused I am as I listen, or as we attempt communication.
    In plain English now. God Bless you Pete, as you continue your studying today, and work through the flash cards. God’s Blessings as you write the exam, may you experience the Peace and Presence of Jesus Christ. May the Spirit of God help you recall each part of your studies as needed.
    Looking forward to hearing of your success.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. noelleg44

    Of course I will ask! As the writer of books, I write a lot of words and I would never presume to tell my readers what they should think about them – it’s up to them and if they see something different, that’s okay! Hope you aced the Hebrew exam – how close is it to Yiddish? I’m sure you can find someone to use your Hebrew with in a conversation, but suspect if it’s close to Yiddish, you could find even more. I’m surprised how many Hebrew words are in my vocabulary!

    Liked by 1 person

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