June 15, 2020

Words matter! And in the age of auto-correct words can get corrected in unexpected and sometimes disastrous ways.  Last Friday in my meditation I made reference to the particular accent that identifies me as someone raised near Pittsburgh, PA. As an example I typed in “tournament” which I often pronounce as “turnament” but autocorrect changed the latter to “tournament”. I never noticed it when I checked the entry before hitting send. I read what I meant, not what was actually there due to autocorrect.

The biggest autocorrect error that I missed occurred in a letter I wrote to introduce myself to a counseling practice where I wanted to rent office space.  One of my friends, Carol Manigold, had given me the lead, and suggested I include her name in my letter. Autocorrect changed “Manigold” to “Mongoloid”.  I didn’t catch the error until I re-read the letter while sitting in the waiting room for an interview.

Proof reading is not a new challenge, even when to comes to the Bible. For example, the “Wicked Bible” was published in 1631. In Exodus 20:14, “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” the “not” was omitted, thus rendering the sentence, “Thou shalt commit adultery”. The publishers were fined 300 pounds, lost their license, and all but 10 copies were destroyed.  One of the remaining copies was auctioned for $40,000 in 2015. If only my errors were as valuable!

A close up of a newspaper

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There were also two different versions of the Bible, published in the 18th century which inadvertently transposed the letters “f” and “l”, so that Mark 7:27 said, “Let the children be killed” instead of “filled”. There was a 1716 version of the Bible that made the tiny error in Jeremiah 31:34, changing “Sin no more” to “Sin on more”. And then there was a version that came to be called the Cannibal’s version, published in 1782. In Deuteronomy 24:3, “If the latter husband hate her,” the “h” in hate was left off. Opps!

Carpenters and seamstresses know the wisdom of measuring twice, cutting once. That requires intentionality, to think before acting, and that applies to our words as well.

The Psalmist wrote a prayer of intention in Psalm 19, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my salvation”. The world would be a better place if all of us, from presidents to peasants, thought twice before speaking once.

May it be so! ~ Anne

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