Sarah Blake LaRose (3kitties) wrote,
Sarah Blake LaRose

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Madeleine L'Engle on language changing

As I said, I'm on a Madeleine L'Engle quote binge... It shows no sign of letting up. That is a hint.

A while ago there was an article in the New York Times about some women in Tennessee who wanted the middle grade text books removed from the school curriculum, not because they were inadequate educationally, but because these women were afraid that they might stimulate the childrens' imaginations.


It was a good while later that I realized that the word, imagination, is always a bad word in the King James translation of the Bible. I checked it out in my concordance, and it is always bad.

Put them down in the imagination of their hearts.

Their imagination is only to do evil.

Language changes. What meant one thing three hundred years ago means something quite different now. So the people who are afraid of the word imagination are thinking about it as it was defined three centuries ago, and not as it is understood today, a wonderful word denoting creativity and wideness of vision.

Another example of our changing language is the word, prevent. Take it apart into its Latin origin, and it is prevenire. Go before. So in the language of the King James translation if we read, "May God prevent us," we should understand the meaning to be, "God go before us," or "God lead us."

And the verb, to let, used to mean, stop. Do not let me, meant do not stop me. And now it is completely reversed into a positive, permissive word.

The quote comes from her June 27, 1998 acceptance speech upon receiving the Margaret Edwards Award.

Needless to say, I don't subscribe to the King James-only theory. In fact, I find the King James Bible very difficult to read and only use it to expand my understanding and study.


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