Bible-speak #Anglish #PlainEnglish

The early Modern English of the King James Bible, the traditional Bible in English-speaking countries, is rather different to today’s English. See Matthew 6:1-2 below in the King James version.

Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

Now take a look at the same verses in the modern New International text.

‘Be careful not to practise your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. ‘So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honoured by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.

Sometimes, the older version has homeborn words (do alms) whereas the modern version has borrowed words (practise your righteousness). And other times, it’s the newer version which uses homeborn words and the older that borrows (Verily but Truly).

None-the-less, the King James version of the Bible, still so familiar to us despite de-Christianisation and “modernisation”, gives us many homeborn words to stand in stead of the borrowings; the main upside is that even though many of these older words are no longer (commonly) used, they stay well-known owing to their use in the Bible. These words are, as I put it, “buttressed” by their familiarity as part of scripture. Here are some other homeborn words from the same passage that you may wish to swap into your English, thanks to the Bible.

Swap in: take heed for pay attention; do alms for practise charity; blow/sound your trumpet for announce it loudly; have or get for receive.

What other passages from the Bible can you find where the older text gives us words of English birth?

© 2019 Bryan A. J. Parry

image from https://pastormikesays.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/bible.jpg

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