26th October 2020

I’ve always been interested in words (no day is complete without a crossword or two), so I was interested to read that, according to a recent survey, many words which will be very familiar to those of us of a certain age are in danger of dying out as the younger generation have never come across them. The endangered list includes such gems as ‘cad’, ‘balderdash’, ‘betrothed’, ‘sozzled’, ‘henceforth’ and ‘kerfuffle’. Apparently, if you try using any of these in conversation with the under 30s you are likely to be met with blank looks. I find that a bit sad, but I suppose it’s inevitable and only natural that words evolve and fall in and out of use, just like everything else. We can be dated as much by the vocabulary we use as by the clothes we wear, our hairstyle and the type of music we enjoy.

Some words possess an innate beauty. (Others, not so much. At work the other day I came across a document entitled ‘Standards of Professionality in the Anglican Clergy’. Professionality indeed – I’m just glad I didn’t have to read the whole thing!)  The bible verses and hymns we grew up with are deeply ingrained in us and even if memory starts to fail, the familiarity of hearing a much loved poem, hymn or bible reading resonates within us, bringing consolation and peace when times are hard. 

Drop thy still dews of quietness

till all our strivings cease;

take from our souls the strain and stress

and let our ordered lives confess

the beauty of thy peace.

Barbara Bews