f The Wittenberg Door: Plaguenation and Henry Alford

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Commenting on Christendom, culture, history, and other oddities of life from an historic Protestant perspective.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Plaguenation and Henry Alford

From Forgotten English . . .

Plaguenation: A barbarously formed substitute for damnation.

Birthday of Henry Alford (1810 – 1871)

English divine and fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge. He wrote about the Bible and the classics, and he composed poems and hymns. In the The American Language (1919) H.L. Mencken presented a number of barbarisms that derived from religious sources, guessing at Alford’s likely reaction when hearing them: “Some of the characteristic coinages of the time make one sympathize with the pious horror of Dean Alford. Bartlett quotes to dozologize, from the Christian Disciple, a quite reputable religious paper of the [18]40s. To funeralize [originally to make melancholy, but extended to the conducting of a funeral in America], and to pastor, along with to missionate [to perform the services of a missionary], and consociational, were other contributions of the evangelical pulpit; it also produced hell-roaring and hellion, the latter a favorite of the Mormons and even used by Henry Ward Beecher. To deacon, a verb which in colonial days signified to read a hymn line by line, began to mean to swindle or adulterate.”

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