Word Whistles

Rain, Rain, Go Away….

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So it has been a while since I took the time to look at words. I know–not always exciting but the etymology of commonly used words always intrigues me. Especially of where we got the meanings, usage and how it all changes over time. Like the word “gay”–10th century meaning “happy” but now it has a strong primary meaning of “a male in love with another male.” (i know-simplistic explanation) or (unfortunately) used as a insult or slur.

So I was thinking of a commonly used word and right now–the sky turned grey and dark. With the impending doom of “El Nino” expected to hit the califiornia coast this winter (still waiting i might add)… I thought I would look at the word RAIN.

Now a simple google search already shows you something interesting… “rain” the word while germanic in nature (english tends to get their meanings/words from this) actually has an association with the German and Dutch word regan. I was like “wow–Ronald Regan is rain?-what?” Of course I looked deeper. The Latin word rigo has a meaning related “to flow” while several other languages use it to refer to wet, drizzle or something related to water (https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/rain#Etymology)

Rain by itself is such a simple yet it can refer to the sprinkle, spitting, downpour and sheets of water that fall from the sky. Once again,I feel our English language lacking what other languages may use a more accurate term.

So here’s to more “rain” this year, helping our drought and our knowledge of where our words come from 🙂

Have you heard??

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…the bird is the  WORD! I thought, for kicks, that it would be fun to look at the English word word. We use it to define so many things across so many genres and topics that it seems fitting in a blog topic about words that we should look at “word.”


Word is a “single distinct meaningful element of speech or writing.” It has Germanic and Dutch roots. It links to similar words for speaking and speech. I like that it has association with a promise. I love how the Christian Bible uses John 1–The Word. It describes so much and yet is a small, four letter combination. It covers an array of definitions as a noun, a verb and yet-only has a limited usage (word, words, worded, wording, etc.)

We use “word” so much–next time you speak about “word”–think about the loaded yet simple definition you hold.

Improving vocabulary 

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For a few years I have tried including words meanings from other languages in a category I called “word woche.” It came from the German word for “week” and it was an attempt to define random words. While I love learning a new language and understanding its history and its usage–I realized that there are several words in the English language as well that provide intriguing stories and histories. And since people only need a small dosage of this knowledge 😉 (unless you’re like me), I decided to rename the category and give it more of an afterthought concept.

So–here it is–the new and improved word whistles. And in honor of the new category, let’s look at the word 


Webster’s dictionary defines a “whistle” as: 

1 a :a small wind instrument in which sound is produced by the forcible passage of breath through a slit in a short tube <a police whistle>

b :a device through which air or steam is forced into a cavity or against a thin edge to produce a loud sound <a factory whistle>

2 a :a shrill clear sound produced by forcing breath out or air in through the puckered lips

b :the sound produced by a whistle

c :a signal given by or as if by whistling


The word’s etymology is very interesting actually. It has Germanic, Norse and Danish roots coming from a similar word “to hiss” since the action of pushing breath through your lips or teeth is a hissing action as well.   This definition and history also covers the verb to whistle and another word whisper. The hissing action is closely related to the hissing or a serpent or snake.  No wonder some people cannot stand it!  Clean as a whistle or wet one’s whistle are phrases that are about cleansing a person’s vocal chords with water or drink since the whisper or whistle are like breathe cleaning or wetting your throat with air. Maybe this explains why people whistle as a way to clear their mind.   

For dogs, whistling can even hurt their ears since it is a high pitched sound and their hearing is more affected than a human’s hearing.  

🎶🎶🎶enjoy your whistling🎶🎶🎶


Word Woche 10.31.14

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In honor of the pending holiday, I decided to look into the word “Halloween.”

Halloween comes from “All Hallow’s Eve” Wikipedia talks about it beginning with the time of the Christian calendar when believers prepared for death.  And while I would love to explain the meaning of the holiday and where it comes from and yada, yada…

But I thought instead I would do something different.

I though I would actually be practical with Halloween.  In the tradition, Halloween was an attempt to scare away the evil spirits with laughter and fun. Dressing up gives a chance for kids to learn that sometimes there’s nothing to fear behind the masks and makeup. It also can teach people to respect death, learn that life is precious, etc.

So embrace halloween, make it fun. And if you don’t like it, well christmas is right around the corner and that’s every reason to celebrate

Word Woche 9.25.14

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Continuing on the tradition until October, here’s a little more Amos 5 for some fun 😀

Amos 5:13-15
13) Therefore the one acting prudently in time  will keep silent because it is an evil time.
14) Seek good and not evil in order that you may live and may the LORD God of Hosts be with you as you have said.
15) Hate evil and Love good! Establish justice in the gate! Perhaps the LORD God of Hosts will show favor to the remanent of Joseph.

Second Call to Reconciliation (v13-15)
The second reconciliation section begins with a verse that appears very out of context.  It begins by ending the previous second of accusations (v11-12) but unlike verses 14 & 15 that contain imperatives and 2nd person plural verbs, its main verb is in a participial form.  It also changes from plural to singular subjects-possibly directing the cursing towards a singular person or to the idea that the nation of Israel as one unit is committing these sins. In verse 14 דרש “seek” is used when seeking out objects such as justice, implying in Amos’ prophetic message seeking for others’ well-being but at the same time possibly holding the other meaning “to seek” in reference to seeking God. “Seeking is a privilege and responsibility of belonging to the covenant community.” (1)  Finally, verses 14 & 15 encourage again the same as verse 4 & 6 – Seek God so that you may live.

A new addition to this section is the change of using YHWH or LORD God to Yahweh, God of Hosts.  Not only does it reflect God’s coming judgment upon Israel but it also has a military context in connection with verse 3.  “In texts where God calls judgement upon Israel, often through the use of foreign armies, they remain God’s hosts in the service of a divine objective.” (2)  The focuses is shifting to the unavoidable death of Israel through God’s might armies. (3)

1. Willem A. Van Gemeren, gen ed., The New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis, vol.1 (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1997) 994-995
2. Willem A. Van Gemeren, gen ed., The New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis, vol.4 (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1997) 1297
3. This is why the New Living Translation of the Bible refers to “God’s Mighty Armies” when translating from YHWH, God of Hosts.

Word of the Week 9.18

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So back when i upgraded this blog, I started a little language section called “Word Woche” or “Word of the Week” My goal was to look at interesting words in other languages and provide some definition. Only problem: not everyone knows every language 🙂
(wait, I know that)

So as a result, I decided to change my thoughts on Word Woche. Instead of being translations of words, I am going to set this up as a mini-translation of Bible verses with some minor thoughts by yours truly. Now–this also goes along with my new mantra about translating the Bible and healthy living for next year. It gives me a place to dump my thoughts in the hopes it motivate someone.


So…. until the week of October 1st, here is a little teaser from one of my papers from the class on Amos 5:8-10. The following is my own personal translation (paper completed 6/2014)

8 He who made Pleiades and Orion — he who changed deep darkness to morning and darkened day to night. The one who called to the waters of the sea and poured them onto the face of the earth–YHWH is His Name! 9It is he who flashes devastation upon the strong so that violence comes upon the fortress. 10They hate him who judges fairly and they abhor he who speaks blamelessly.

… and commentary:
Yahweh’s Power and Authority (8-10)
Verses 8-10 present the description of Yahweh almost in contrast to the previous verses about Israel’s failed worship. Unlike Israel-who will die based on their idol worship, Yahweh is presented as the Almighty Creator and sustainer Power of Life. The imagery focuses on creation images, walking through day and night, stars (Orion and Pleiades), through the creation of land and water and eventually destructions over those who are not just and fair (a reference back to v7). It is very consistent with hymn language and the structure leading up to “YHWH is His Name! is at the center of the descriptions.(1) There is also a dispute over whether verse 9 was even originally part of the oracle as most of the references to God are in a cosmic sense, not in a violent, destructive nature.(2) Despite this fact, many of the translations have this verse and it appears to reinforce ideas already found present in Amos’ message.
The references to the “fortress” and the “gate” are to the economic and judicial structure of the town. Both of these fixtures were the location of the town meetings and politics. So to present hating justice and righteous in the place of where justice and righteousness are administered is a drastic contrast to the purpose the gate and fortress served in the community. “Therefore to hate the advocate of right and abhor those who speak ‘the whole truth’ is tantamount to personal opposition to the essence of the system.”(3) Again, Israel is being accused of practices religious traditions in opposition to God’s law and covenant.

1. Andersen & Freedman, Amos: A new translation and introduction with commentary, 486-7

2. Ibid., 241

3. Mays, Amos: A Commentary, 93

Andersen, Francis I. & Freedman, David N. Amos: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary. (Anchor Bible 24A, New York: Doubleday, 1989)

Mays, James L. Amos: A Commentary (Philadelphia, The Westminster Press, 1969)

Word Woche 11.10

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Word Woche is BACK! Again, I apologize for the delay in my posts.  Sometimes schoolwork gets the best of you.  Honestly, just this quarter alone has given me enough blog material to overload anyone’s brain.  Ethics and World Religions really get your noodle cooking.


Anyways, I thought I would teach everyone a Hindu word this week since we are studying the history & theological concepts in Hinduism this week.  Now, everyone knows karma.  What action you do has an affect.  Well, another word is

It is the term used to describe the liberation to samsara and karma.  It is the primary goal of any Hindu.  Reaching liberation and the union with the Ultimate Reality, the One (yes its not, really–its Vishnu, who can be in any form, in any concept…let’s just say its very confusing sometimes…)

It’s similar (and yet completely different) from the concept of grace and liberation from sin/bondage through the knowledge of Christ in Christianity.  Just thoroughly interesting.

Word Woche 9.29

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This Monday (tomorrow) is the beginning of the fall quarter at school.  I am so glad to be going back.  I love learning!… however, this quarter I decided in order to keep up my language skills, I am auditing Greek.  Ironically, last Tuesday a class started at church in our CALL (Christian Academy for Life-Long Learners) that referred to many Greek words affiliated with the indescribable “powers and principalities.” So I thought–what better than to look at this word for the word of the week! So with no further adieu…


It means power, dominion or authority over something.  It is used multiple times in matthew referring to God’s power as it comes through Jesus Christ.  Many times it just refers to “power over something” or control. The basic root is “exesti”… Break down the word even further and it is “ek” or “out of” and “eimi” or the “to be, being” in a state of power.  It is privileged power…authority. Rulership.

God holds this power.  And gives Jesus this same power to heal the sick and raise the dead.  It almost sounds likes “existence.” Which is to say something living.  The word gives me more strength in the Living God has authority and that Jesus has the authority to take care of it all.  Kind of nice–when you think about it.

Word Woche 9.22

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As many of you know, I am learning German.  In the last lesson I was learning the different names for different countries.  For the most part–German works like other languages.  England sounds like England, France is “Frankreich” and French “Französisch.” Things look like their english cognate.  However, Germany is NOT translated “germane” or something similar.  So this week’s word is:


meaning “German.” Deutschland being the official name of the country.

It was interesting to learn that the world for Germany has an interesting history.  My BYU online professor mentioned it comes from the Old German word diut-isk, roughly “folk-ish.  Another etymology website showed the connection with the word “Dutch” and this statement:  Old High German duit-isc, corresponding to Old English þeodisc “belonging to the people (website here )  It’s interesting to hear German call themselves “one of us” or just differentiate between us and them. As simple as that.  Either you’re part of the people here or part of the people elsewhere.  Not kidding.  Per my lesson plan/professor: The opposite term was an ancestor of welsch, meaning specifically the Celtic peoples, but generally anyone who was foreign, or “not one of us.”

Word Woche 9.15

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Last week my husband made a good point about language learning and the lack of true language taught in school. We were both able to name several people who took years of classes or even majored in a language yet when they arrived in the country of that language, they understood almost nothing.  Doesn’t matter if its a country drastically different from English-speaking countries or not– they still feel like they wasted their time studying a language formally.


So out of this conversation, we came across the word “kewl” in the English language.  A slang word used to represent something extremely interesting, popular or just, well, plain “KEWL.” It was formed out of the texting generation that adopted more of a phonetic and short-handed speech so that one could understand emotions without having to pick up the phone.  In fact, I used it for several months–i am still ashamed

What interested me that the German word for the weather being cool (a.k.a. sweater weather) is spelled as such:


And has almost the same pronunciation as the English slang word used above for a completely different meaning.  I have found no research to support this hypothesis, but I wonder if slang comes from a combination of a new need in a language (a.k.a shorthanded comments or insults meant to effectively and verbal stab a person) as well as modifications from another language.  For example, the word “spanglish” is a slang term meant to refer to Spanish with heavier English tons or words that are most english with a spanish accent or pronunciation.

well, that’s all my friends for this week’s Word Woche.  COMING SOON!: more greek, cause I’ll be starting Greek on October 1st 🙂