Creating Words

What does it mean for a preacher to practice the art of creating words?

“JEHOVAH has been pleased to give us the revelation of his mind and will in words. It is therefore absolutely necessary that we should understand not merely the meaning of the words themselves, but also the laws which govern their usage and combinations (E. W. Bullinger, 1898)”

Stand before a crowd of people, sit with a family in pain or counsel one-on-one with an individual and you will soon discover that the only tool you have are the words that you use.

Many times it will be an unfamiliar word couched in a sea of familiar ones, and you will have to paint the picture, defined the moment, encapsulate the event. For example, what words of comfort would you use when speaking to a family who is in the midst of an unthinkable tragedy?

If you have not had this experience before as a young preacher you will. What goes through the mind is… ”what can I say to the family”? Certainly silence can be really helpful but mostly people will remember your words of comfort from that day, so you must say something.

We can find assurance in the fact that God has revealed His Creative Word in every category of human affairs. There is not one joy or tragedy that the Lord has not spoken to.

We take the Created Word and like an artist fashion a moment in joy or a moment in tragedy by creating words that affirm His revelation and our experience.

The more familiar you are with people of different cultures, who speak a different language and communicate in local idioms the better you can speak to their pain or joy using figures of speech.

What are figures of Speech? They are techniques of language, the ways of using words that may seem unusual but have a specific and desired effect.

Figures of speech often break normal rules of grammar, but can be nevertheless understood. They are commonly used in poetry and eloquent speech.

Here below are some examples of the figures of speech common to the preaching process:

  • Amplification---the key element is amplification, exaggeration or enlargement of some sort in some form

  • Adynaton: Exaggerated declaration of impossibility
  • Auxesis: Enhancement of importance
  • Climax: Words ordered in ascending power
  • Correctio: Correction to revise meaning
  • Epizeuxis: Repetition of a word with vehemence
  • Hyperbole: Deliberate over-exaggeration
  • Distinctio: Describing something by saying what it is not
  • Dysphemism: Substituting a mild word with a stronger one
  • Dystmesis: Inserting one word into the middle of another
  • Enumeratio: Breaking down and detailing a subject
  • Epanorthosis: In-sentence correction
  • Parrhesia: Boldness of speech
  • Synonymia: Repeating synonyms for amplification
  • Tricolon: Three components, increasing power
  • Emotion--- the key is expression of emotion is done in a particular way
  • Aganactesis: Indignant exclamation.
  • Asteismos: Polite expression of emotion.
  • Anamnesis: Emotional recall.
  • Apostrophe: An 'aside', to others.
  • Cacophony: Harsh combination of words.
  • Ethopoeia: Putting oneself in the position of another.
  • Euche: Expressing emotion through prayer.
  • Hypocatastasis: Implied comparison.
  • Paraeneticon: Expressing emotion through exhortation.
  • Oeonismos: Expressing emotion through wishing or hoping.

  • Hidden meaning--- the key element is having something that is subtle or hidden in some form
  • Meaning--- where the key element is in the creation or change of meaning
  • Repetition--- the key element is repetition
  • Alliteration: Repetition of same initial sound

If you are going to be excellent in the art of creating words then plan on using figures of speech over your preaching lifetime.

Start with the figures you are most comfortable with and add them as you grow in the process.

To enhance your ability in the art of creating words I can recommend the use and study of Figures of Speech Used in the Bible; Explained and Illustrated by E. W. Bullinger.

Purchase this book and put it in your library early on. It will help in many phases of your ministry.

Later when we study sermon outlines and development we will use many of the ideas in this book.

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