October 19, 2015
When you live in Southern California – and travel a lot – the grief is just a fact of life.
People – are they jealous? – love to poke fun at Californians for our “distinctives.” The two top grief-getters are our lack of seasons (palm trees don’t change colors); and, our earthquakes (fearful, for people who only do hurricanes and tornadoes).
Recently – while in the South – I heard about a North Carolina State Trooper who spotted a pick-up truck without plates and pulled it over. He walked up to the driver and asked him, “You got any ID?” To which the driver replied, “’Bout what?” Say what?
Across America, there is an intriguing challenge that exists: we mistakenly believe that we share a common language. Presidential candidates – in both parties – are trying to sophisticate their syntax as they endeavor to reach a national consensus. If you live in just one place, hanging around with just one crowd, watching national network anchors do the talking, you could be lulled into complacency, believing we all speak the same language…
In a barbecue joint, in the South, I stared at the placemat. It was a primer for Yankees (now, from out west, we don’t feel like Yankees … but, if you ain’t from the South, you’ve got no choice but to be a Yankee!) to learn just enough local English to get along. Samples:
A-Fixin’: getting ready, as in, “We’re a-fixin’ to go to the store …”
Smart: To hurt, as in, “It shore smarts where I got hit.”
Askeered of: frightened or afraid of, as in: “He’s askeered of his own shadow.”
You’ns: You or you all, as in: “You’ns ain’t gonna get no vittles.”
Without a little coaching, Yankees could find themselves linguistically stranded in a foreign land called The South. Once you try it on a bit, however, y’all can get into it, if you try. It is a form of English, even if it ain’t the form you growed up with …
If you don’t want to be understood, you don’t have to try so hard. That’s why the candidates spend the big bucks for those campaign advisors: to teach them how to speak union, or e-commerce, or Hispanic immigrant, or soccer mom, or whatever dialect they’ll next address. Language is the bridge that connects people with a message and people with ears.
That’s nothing new; God figured it out a long time before the management at the restaurant, or the consultants to the two major parties. God didn’t just have a message; He was the message: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God … He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him … The Word became flesh and lived for a while among us. We have seen His glory …” (John 1:1-14, selected).
God wanted so badly to get the message of His love to us that He learned to speak our language; He became one of us so that He would be understood. People who can’t understand God haven’t tuned-in on His #1 Communication: it was His Son, Jesus, in the flesh. Get to know Him, and you’ll hear heaven’s message, loud and clear. Yankee or Rebel, young or old: everybody can understand that Word!