Grüß Gott! That’s “hello” here in Bayern (Bavaria) 🙂 Things are going very well thus far and I’m hoping I will be able to write updates and thoughts each Sunday while I’m here in München (Munich).
On Wednesday, I began my German language course (Sprachkurs). It’s three hours daily, Monday through Friday, and we are covering a lot. So far, we’ve been doing some review, which is really great because it looks like I’ve forgotten quite a bit! Oh, and as a side note, please forgive me if my English is a bit weird…I’ve been speaking a gemischte (mixed) German-English (Denglisch) for a week and my brain is kind of scrambled!
In my language course, as well as where I live (Das Collegium Oecumenicum), there are students from all over the world and it’s been marvelous getting to know them over the past couple days. It’s always interesting to hear about different countries, and I’m fascinated discussing the world situation with people from different cultures and backgrounds. It makes for such an enlightening and rich experience.
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about how our personalities – who we are as people – are tied up in the language we speak. At home, I’m incredibly outgoing. I love to laugh, joke and to make awful puns. But in German, I don’t always have the right words to express myself. Or, I might not understand someone’s words, thereby missing what they’re trying to convey. I discussed this the other night with another student of German and we both expressed how difficult it can be to sit there and absorb when you want more than anything to join in – when you just want to be yourself with these new people you’ve just met. So, maybe, in a foreign language, it’s hard to not only find the right words, grammar or syntax, but also to find your own voice in that language. Finding your voice is hard enough in your native tongue!
How we use language helps us to express ourselves as individuals. Think about it – there are certain words, phrases and inflections that people you know use (or you yourself use) that are common for that person. These can be annoying, endearing, or maybe a bit of both, but they help you identify that person, don’t they?
Thinking about all of this, I’ve been pondering the words that I use. The words we choose help to inform others about us and they shape others’ understandings of who we are. So what words come out of our mouths? Are they words that build people up, or tear them down? Are they words that praise God? Are they words that show that we care about others? Are they words filled with the love, grace and mercy of Christ? Or, are they words that lash out at others in frustration and anger? What are we expressing to the world when we speak?
The following are some helpful passages from scripture to look at and think about:
James 3:1-12 (Keeping the tongue in check)
Ephesians 4:29 (Words that build up and give grace)
Mark 7:1-23 (It is what comes from within that defiles)
Psalm 139 (God knows our words before we speak them; the psalmist praises God)
Psalm 19 (The sweetness of God’s word; our words as acceptable before God)
Appropriately enough, last night I stumbled upon this video, which a seminary classmate had pinned:
I’d love to hear your thoughts about language, words, expression, etc.! Leave a comment if you’d like to join the conversation 🙂
© 2012. Annabelle Peake Markey. All rights reserved.