Friday, September 21, 2007

A Paradisiacal Hell

"Recite the tenth Article of Faith."

I have to admit I was taken aback when Princess' dance teacher asked me this. I think the last time anyone demanded that I recite an article of faith from memory, I was eight years old and the bishop was interviewing me for baptism. I shamefacedly admitted that I didn't remember the exact words and didn't know off the top of my head which one was the tenth. So I asked her why she wanted me to do it. "I want to hear how you pronounce a word," she said. What was the word? "Paradisiacal."

I told her that I would pronounce it "pear-a-DICE-ical" and she said "That's what I thought, but some people in my ward are pronouncing it 'pear-a-dice-I-acal' and they're making a big deal over it, so I'm asking everyone I know how they pronounce it."

I suggested that perhaps the best thing to do then would be to consult a dictionary and find out what the correct pronunciation of it is. But she went on about how these people in her ward were constantly correcting people's spelling and pronunciation in a rude way, and acting like snobs about it, so she was going to continue to ask everyone she knew, presumably until she found a sufficient number of people who pronounced it "pear-a-DICE-ical" that their combined weight would crush these rude people when thrown in their face.

Two notes on the incident:

(1) Of what possible use can it be to constantly give unwanted correction to the pronunciation and spelling of various words, outside of an English class? Jesus is still the savior no matter how we pronounce his name. As long as the meaning is clear, is there any compelling reason to pick nits? When nitpickers set the tone of superiority, they invite people to a pissing contest, and somehow I don't remember Christ ever encouraging those in the scriptures. Hell, even the blogosphere, pissing contest capital of the universe, frowns on grammar nazis.

(2) What difference does it make if 15 krillion people mispronounce a word? It doesn't make it correct. On what planet is it easier or more accurate to take a poll of your friends of how to pronounce a word, than to crack open a dictionary and find out for sure?

When I couldn't recite the tenth Article of Faith, I felt like maybe I wasn't "Mormon enough." But I'll take a basic understanding of Gospel principles over verse recitation any day. I bet in the New Jerusalem, there won't be any fights over how to pronounce "paradisiacal". How does fighting about it make us closer to living it?