A Proper Vocabulary

I’m dying to know what our President and the Queen talked about today! I know, there are reported conversations thanks to the media. But it would be fun to be a fly on the wall to see these two together. With the time I spent in the British Isles it is clear to me that there are different expectations of etiquette and accompanying vocabulary. Even though I spoke English in England and Scotland, it was clear I wasn’t always speaking the same language!

I found myself repeatedly using words on our European trip that I seldom use here. Let me offer a list of those words with confirming pictures!

Quaint: I can’t tell you how many times I expressed amazement at a quaint scene before us. How about these images?

Picturesque: I seldom use this word in my daily life in Belmont, Michigan. But I found myself naming the scenery before me in this way quite often. What do you think?

Darling: There were certain scenes, especially with children or animals, that could only be described as darling. Another word that I seldom use in my Michigan environs. But see if you don’t agree with me!

Charming: Probably our most common association with that word is pairing it with the word “Prince”. No surprise, then, that our fairytales often times came from the British Isles where a monarchy has been firmly in place for generations. Check out these photographic images showcasing a charming life!

Idyllic: Every now and then circumstances in our lives are idyllic. Too often for me the demands of daily life make it hard to either see those moments or have the time to experience them. On this trip there were countless times when my family and I witnessed scenes that were truly idyllic. Let me make my point!

Exquisite: I walked through enough museums in Europe to be able to verify that I have now seen many exquisite images and items! Here are just a few.

As I found myself developing a new vocabulary to response to my new digs, I also learned to appreciate a few words that I heard repeatedly. These were familiar words but they held a different meaning in England and Scotland. See what you think:

Proper: it is impossible to over-use this word in England. Again, I imagine Queen Elizabeth meeting up with our POTUS and wonder how he was able to be proper in the British sense?! This adjective was even used to describe items on restaurant menus. Here’s just one illustration.

Brilliant: I seldom use this adjective. It seems to either apply to someone like Albert Schweitzer or a stunning diamond ring locked away at Buckingham Palace. It has such extreme value as a superlative word that we seldom pull it out of our vocabulary word chest. It is used in England very often and we learned to drop it in conversation appropriately. A recent example would be the British diver who first found the lost Thai children and their coach. With his headlamp shining on this elated cluster of children, he asked how many of them were there. When they told him, “13”, his answer was, quite simply, “Brilliant!” I doubt that any of us would’ve chosen that word for those circumstances but I kind of love it! So that’s my example.

No worries: Every culture seems to need words of reassurance. We found this phrase to be particularly popular with the wait staff in restaurants where we ate. We were relieved to hear that we didn’t need to worry about asking for extra water (it is not routinely brought to the table and you typically pay for it) or having our eggs scrambled dry! We weren’t going to worry about such mundane details but, with the waiter’s words of assurance, our uncertainty about what we needed to worry about–or not–was allayed! So,


By preachinglife

My father was a military chaplain so I moved around quite a bit growing up. I have always gone to church! Even when we traveled we went somewhere to church. I met and married my husband, Garrett, at Chicago Theological Seminary where I earned a Masters of Divinity degree. He and I were ordained together at the First Church of Lombard, United Church of Christ in Lombard, Illinois on June 14, 1987. My first act as an ordained minister at the end of a tremendously hot ordination ceremony was to baptize my daughter, Lisa Marian! We added two sons and a daughter to the mix: James, Joseph and Maria. We have girls on either end and two boys one year apart in the middle. They range in age from 33 to almost 22. I love them!

I have been in the parish ministry for 35 years, serving at three different churches. I have joyfully served the people at the First Congregational Church of Rockford, United Church of Christ in Rockford, Michigan for 24 years.

We live on family land about 3 miles from the church. In random free moments I enjoy cooking good meals, reading, writing, gardening, traveling and spending time with my family. I am blessed!

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