Balm in Gilead

My mother's father was a member of the Sommerfelder Mennonite Church, one of those groups that seeks to protect its members from the evils of the surrounding world by maintaining a different language. Grandpa was already hemmed in by his visual impairment, perhaps that led him to take more interest in the people he met. … Continue reading Balm in Gilead

Understanding the language of the Bible

There is a good possibility that using a dictionary of the English language will muddy the waters when it comes to trying to understand a word used in the Bible. The word science found in 1 Timothy 6:20 is a case in point. The Greek word here translated science is gnosis, which in all its … Continue reading Understanding the language of the Bible

Are You Perfect?

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus instructed his disciples: “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:46). Instructions like this are found all through the Old and New Testaments. In Genesis 17:1, God said to Abraham: “I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be … Continue reading Are You Perfect?

Our quirksome language

The English suffix -some is not the same as the adjective some, which means an unspecified quantity. The suffix -some means causing, or characterized by. Quirksome is not in any of my dictionaries, but here are some words that are: awesomeburdensomecuddlesomefearsomegladsomeirksomeloathsomemeddlesomequarrelsometiresometoilsometroublesomewearisomeworrisome And here are a few more that need some explaining: fulsome - can have … Continue reading Our quirksome language

If you want to be a writer, you first need to be a reader

The greatest part of a writer's time is spent in reading. In order to write a man will turn over half a library to make one book. -Samuel Johnson, 1705-1784. Johnson was a poet, playwright, essayist, moralist, biographer, editor and the sole author of A Dictionary of the English Language, first published in 1755 and … Continue reading If you want to be a writer, you first need to be a reader

Memories of a Bridge Builder

My mother was born to a family that spoke Plautdietsch at home and German in church. Those languages, sometimes called Low German and High German, were meant to be a protective wall, preventing folks of that heritage from feeling at home with the people around them. They also served to exclude the people around them … Continue reading Memories of a Bridge Builder

If you are a writer . . .

If you are a writer . . . - you love words, you study words, their origins and all the nuances of their meanings. You don’t aim to dazzle readers with the knowledge you acquire, you want to be able to select the best words to make your readers see what you are seeing. - … Continue reading If you are a writer . . .


Gossip. talk or news about the personal lives of other people that is often not kind or true. The above definition comes from the Harcourt Brace Canadian Dictionary for Students, © 1997. I think this was the best school dictionary ever, but it is unfortunately out of print due to Thompson Corp buying up a … Continue reading Gossip

Memories of the Inscribe Conference

You know you're in a group of writers when a workshop leader asks each participant to name five of their favourite books from childhood and one includes the dictionary in her list. She says she used to read two pages a day. And nobody thought that was weird. That happened in Colleen McCubbin's class on … Continue reading Memories of the Inscribe Conference