Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Words of My Mouth

"May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer."
Psalm 19:14

Part of the research for my Lingustics paper involves recording interviews and conversations and then transcribing them word for word, down to every stutter and "um". This takes a while, about an hour and a half for a fifteen minute conversation. But it is interesting to see what a conversation looks like on paper, if not embarrassing. You find mistakes and verbal ticks that you never realized were there. You realize that it takes you longer to communicate an idea than you would hope. I think my speech would probably improve if someone handed me a transcript of it at the end of each day. But is that something anyone would really want? A written account of every word, every stammer, every slip of the tongue, or worse?

I noticed that being recorded was a smidge unnerving at first for some of the participants in my study. Something about that microphone makes us want to watch our language a bit more carefully. After a while, they would loosen up and begin to speak more naturally. But they could never quite forget about that digital soundtrack they were creating. The truth is, though, that the record of their words did not stop when I pressed the "stop" button on the recorder. There was another tape rolling.

Jesus said, "I tell you that men will have to give an account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken." (Matt. 12:36)

is unnerving.

May we not testify against ourselves on that day. May we not be found "a man of unclean lips among a people of unclean lips." May He put a coal to our mouths. May our be speech be seasoned well. May it spring forth fresh water to nourish those around us. May it bless and not curse. May we speak as though we are speaking the very words of Christ. And when the transcription is complete, may the Word made flesh find pleasure in its reading.

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