Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Language of Prayer

by Tanner:

Disclaimer: I am a believer that people do and should pray in more than formal prayers. Let people pray how and where they may. I do.

I am a devout individual and have often found myself trying to make reason of some doctrine, principle, or event from the scriptures. Everyone has what I call "objects of consideration,"or some idea that they fixate on as a root or contingency point for making sense of other ideas or simply fixate on for some other reason. For some it may be following the prophet, the creation, the Abrahamic covenant, the eternal nature of the atonement, etc. It could also be the separation of roles in the gospel and church, e.g. priesthood and motherhood. One of my "objects of consideration" has long been the language of prayer.

I am a linguist and polyglot. In other words, I speak a few languages, study language, and language is the object of my professional career. For a long time I have been bothered that English speaking members of the church are encouraged to pray using the archaic pronoun "thou" instead of the normal "you." "Thou" survives today for formal and solemn settings and purposes. However, "thou" is actually the informal, singular, second person pronoun.

A lesson about the history of the English language.

The pronoun "you" is the descendant of the plural and formal "Ye." Actually, "You" is the direct object form of "Ye," as in "Ye love me, I love you." After the Norman French speaking William the Conquerer took over England in 1066, French quickly became the ruling language. French was forced on the English people. Have you ever wondered why the English, a germanic language, has so many latin roots and alternative? The Norman conquest of England is a large part of it.

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