Author Ava Pennington
Author Ava Pennington

The more things change…

You know how to finish that statement, don’t you?

“The more things change, the more they remain the same.”

Bear with me as I take an ever-so-brief detour through the history of writing. You’ll understand why in a moment or two…

Written communication began with symbols. These symbols, known as proto-writing, were not a word-for-word record of verbal communication. Rather, they were a series of symbols to represent simple nouns, verbs, ideas, or emotions. You may recall taking a history class where you studied photos of ancient cave drawings. Those crude pictures—pictographic hieroglyphics—evolved into cuneiform—symbols based on wedge shapes.

Eventually, alphabets and writing systems developed to record communication word-for-word. Alphabets formed words. Words formed sentences. Sentences were grouped into paragraphs. The point was to accurately represent oral communication. Handwriting developed into an art form and calligraphy flourished.

So why this history lesson now? Because, as the title of this post declares, the more things change, the more they do indeed remain the same.

Think about the changes in written communications today. Cursive handwriting is no longer taught in major school systems. The practice of texting has devolved words and sentences into collections of letters and numbers. For example, “see you later” has become “c u l8r.”

If that isn’t bad enough, our social media communications are increasingly bereft of words. Instead, they’re filled with smiley faces and hearts, thumbs-up, and thumbs-down. Emoticons picturing facial expressions. Emoji depicting everything from shoes to houses. No longer do we carefully search for the precise word to convey our thoughts and emotions. Now we string together a group of emoticons and emojis and call it communication. After thousands of years, we’ve advanced – or regressed – to cave drawings.


Please don’t get me wrong. I use emoticons and emojis in my own social media posts. Still, let’s remember the importance of words. Precise words. The right word makes a huge difference in conveying ideas and emotions. Consider a word as general as walk. Good communicators won’t be content with walk. They will search for a word that conveys exactly what they are trying to communicate. They will search out words such as trudge, hike, stroll, march, saunter, stride, amble, trek, plod, dawdle, roam, tramp, tromp, slog, travel, stomp, sashay, glide, troop, wander, ramble, promenade, or traipse. Precise words help us communicate clearly.

Most of all, if we give up our appreciation for choosing particular words to convey specific meanings, we’ll fail to grasp the precision of God’s Word. For thousands of years, the Bible has described God’s nature and relationship with humanity in precise language. God values specific communication. There’s a reason Jesus is called the living Word. An emoticon or emoji isn’t enough to communicate all that He is and all that He did…and still does.

We need words for that. A smiley face just won’t do it.  🙂

What do you think?

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  1. Marla O'Neill

    Hi Ava,
    Nicely written. God spoke and everything came about. For the longest time God’s people handed down their stories orally. I do agree that we should not forget about written language. But I think with modern technology, we have to be so careful because we can’t hear the words or see the expressions or emotions we try to convey. Therefore, pictures help. It does give us a lot to think about. From cave drawings to texting…however we communicate it should be clear and precise. Loved the read.

  2. John Williamson

    Agree, we need words and good vocabulary. But, I would propose a different view of the history of language.

    God spoke the creation into existence, then He spoke to Adam and Adam understood. Language arts were part of God’s creation and essential to relational communication with man. It makes me wonder what language God used, and man used before Babel.

    In studying both Greek and Hebrew, I noticed an interesting pattern. The more ancient forms of the languages had more highly nuanced detail that was lost over time. For example, Koine Greek is simpler than any of the classics that preceded it in the morphology of the case system (the written specification of direct and indirect objects, etc.)

    It seems to me that this is an argument again the evolutionary view of language generally accepted. Perhaps we are really getting dumber and dumber as we simplify language and – in the industrial, computer age – transfer more and more of our communication and thinking tasks to machines.

    Having said that, we know that in His grace, God will provide the means for all generations to hear His message and respond to it.

    And, Ava, you do it well!


  3. admin

    Good thoughts, John!

  4. admin

    Thanks for adding to the conversation, Marla!

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