The influence of the Bible on the English Language was the topic I wanted to cover that day, as part of a dozen lectures allotted to me on Creative Writing in English. Some misguided soul had suggested my name to the Director of the Press Club, which was offering a short-term course in Journalism and in a weak (or confident) moment, i agreed to do those lectures. (I must confess that I was not called after the first experiment).
A knowledge of what constituted the substance with which the language was made up of would help in using it creatively, I thought. Among the major influences on the English Language in its formative stage were the discovery of the Printing press,the translations of the Bible and the printing of the King James version /Authorised version in early seventeenth century. These two factors happening almost simultaneously had the impact of standardizing the language.
One would be amazed at the huge number of the very very common words that we utter on a daily basis as well as the figurative and metaphorical usages that are drawn from the Bible. For some reason, I thought that it would help a person who is to take writing seriously to know the impact the Bible had on the language.
Thus it was that I took a lot of pains to prepare the lecture in which i highlighted the combined impact on the English language of 1. the translations into English of the Latin Bible and 2. the advent of printing into England.The impact was
- of standardising the language and establishing the victory of East Midland dialect over others and
- introduction of an incredibly large number of words and expressions from the Bible.
I wanted to amaze the students with astronomical contribution of Bible to the English vocabulary. I wanted to surprise them with the list of words that come so easily to us, which could be traced back to the Bible. I wanted to demonstrate how a familiarity with the associative and connotative value of words will give a depth to their use, and would also help in the application of such techniques as, say, extended analogy.
I concluded the lecture with the list that I wanted to surprise them with. After reading it out, I looked up with what I’m sure was an expression on my face that reflected the satisfaction of a job well done.
Any comments, questions? I asked.
He was a frontbencher who on the first day had asked me, “Can CREATIVE writing be taught?”
I don’t remember him asking any more questions after that, but I remembered him ‘cos I was grateful to him for that question which gave me a chance to discuss with them the concept of creativity.
I remember he wore glasses. He always had a smile on his face, the nature of which I couldn’t quite decipher.
After my lecture on the Bible, he asked me his second question – second and last.
“What’s this ma’am? Proselytizing?”
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ?????????????? :-(
Wonder if he is a professional scribe now!