August 12, 2009
Why us talk so pretty
I'm filling up the time by blogging about the top 10 books that have had the biggest impact on me growing up in more or less chronological order. Book #1, discussed yesterday, was the Bible.
Book #2 is like unto it. I'm referring to The Book of Common Prayer, which kind of goes with the territory of being raised Episcopal. Again, growing up in that tradition meant that while we were sprinkled in baptism, we were immersed in the language of the prayer book, which goes back to (and even pre-dates) Elizabethan English.
When I was a kid, we used the 1928 version, which is chock full of all kinds of ornate and colorful language. If you want to see what the English language can do when it wants to, that's not a bad place to check. Here's just one example. In one liturgy, we didn't just repent of our sins, we acknowledged and bewailed our manifold sins and wickedness.
An awful lot of writers come from that religious tradition (did someone say Shakespeare?). I have no way of proving this, but I wouldn't be surprised if being immersed in that kind of liturgical language had something to do with it.
(El Cabrero is officially unemployed this week and next. That means that posts will continue to appear here but were prepared in advance and will not have links or comments about current events.).