I think we should actually call the English we speak “American” to allow for the myriad different dialects, idioms, web jargon, and incorrect usage that becomes acceptable over time.  Remember when “ain’t” wasn’t in the dictionary?

Here in New Jersey, we’ve co-opted phrases from many different sources, including New York ("Fuhgeddaboutit!"), Yiddish ("I’ll take a bagel and a shmear"), occasionally even Pig Latin ("Ix-nay!")

We’ve even got different regional dialects here in the garden state.  Our colorful way of speaking can often be confusing, even to each other.  Once, a co-worker told me that she’d had trouble at a local club.  “Woulda bin something.  She was buck eighty, least.”  Translation: there was almost a fist-fight which my co-worker would have ultimately lost, since the other woman weighed about a hundred eighty pounds.  Maybe her shorthand was actually more efficient than the way I’m explaining it with all these extra words.

So, since we’re all from somewhere, what exactly is wrong with having an accent?  Why are we trying to erase our pasts?  Tell me, what does an “American” accent sound like, anyway?  I read that news anchors attend an elocution course that enables them to speak as if they are from Michigan.  We wouldn’t want to sound like we’re from… where we’re from.  Wherever that might be.  Actually, Peter Jennings, God rest, was from Canada.  My guy, Brian Williams (no relation), is from Jersey.  Barbara Walters has what I can only describe as “patrician” accent.

Just as there are many different ways of expressing ourselves, there are also many ways in which to talk to God.  There are very sacred-sounding, religious terms like “thou” and “thee” and “whosoever,” and then there are very direct, right-where-you-live prayers, like help finding your child who got momentarily separated from you at the mall.  Say it like you mean it, bring it to God in fervent prayer, and it’s my belief that it will get through.  It doesn’t matter what language you use, as long as it comes from the heart.

  Hot-line to Heaven

You have to admit: You made me mouthy.
Gave me big dreams and great expectations.
I even carry a portable soapbox with me in case I need to vent.

But whatever I need to say, and however I express it,
I know You hear me.
I might say it in a colorful way, but always intend reverence,
and always feel awe.

I am so humbled that You take the time each day to listen to me.

Good thing You invented language so all accents get through.
Help me to appreciate the beauty of different ways.
In this faith family, we all speak the same language.

-Ruth Williams


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