Mind Your Language

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We are coming up to the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death. I feel, at this point in time, that I should own up to the fact that I didn’t enjoy English at school. I love reading, and I have always loved reading, but I wasn’t a fan of having to analyse books. I wanted to just read the story, and enjoy the story, without having to analyse each sentence. Then, I discovered Shakespeare, and it was a different language. I couldn’t even just enjoy reading, I had to work out what was being said. BUT THEN…

We were reading Twelfth Night, and we went on a school trip to Warwick Castle, where Twelfth Night was being performed in the grounds. Different scenes were in different parts of the castle, and we had to run around to watch the play. The trip started off well because our English teacher was wearing yellow tights (that will only make sense if you know the play), but the play was fantastic. Suddenly Shakespeare made sense, I didn’t necessarily understand every single word that was being said, but I understood the story – and not just because my teacher was reading it to me.

My best friend’s dad plays percussion for the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-Upon-Avon, this meant that we got to go to quite a few opening nights. I had developed a love for Shakespeare, and I would take any opportunity I had to go and watch the plays.

A couple of years later I was in Copenhagen, Denmark. I had gone on an Orchestra trip with my school. We had had a tour, and some lunch, and then we had free time. We had to meet back at the place we had lunch, at a certain time. My friends and I got lost! We knew that the place we had eaten at was called “The Ugly Duckling” (after the Hans Christian Anderson story) so we asked people for directions. Unfortunately, it is not called “The Ugly Duckling” in Danish! So no one knew what we were talking about.

Language is essential, it is a necessity in life. How else would we be able to communicate with each other to explain things? The problem comes when the meaning is lost. In Denmark, we needed to know the Danish. Shakespeare wrote plays, not books. They were meant to be performed. Would you sit down and read a script from Eastenders?

Things being lost in translation, it’s something that happens a lot now. But that is mainly through social media, texts and emails. I can be rather sarcastic at times, it’s not my strongest feature, and I completely blame my dad. But what I find is that you can’t always get sarcasm across in a text. The tone we use when we speak, and also our facial expressions, help to explain what we are trying to say.

I know so many people who have been hurt by words that have been sent in a message. I know I feel safer hiding behind technology, but we have to be careful, and sometimes we have to realise that we do need to speak to people face-to-face.

The quote I chose from Shakespeare for this week was

“Words are easy like the wind; faithful friends are hard to find”

This is so true. We can say things to people easily, but actually many friendships don’t really need words.

A teaching that I feel is key to the Christian Faith is that actions speak louder than words. Jesus showed this, if we think about the Last Supper, when he washed his disciple’s feet. He wanted to show them something about himself. This is something that the Salvation army still do today, for homeless people.

Challenge: Think about how you use words. Try to make a special effort to say at least one nice thing to people each day this week. Think about whether your actions reflect or speak louder than the words you say.

Prayer: We thank you that you have given us language to communicate with each and to communicate with you. Help us to use the language you have given us, to worship you, and to show your love to those around us. Amen

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