Do You Know the Two Most Revealing Words in the English Language?

As a Christian and a writer, I am convinced that words have an almost supernatural energy or power to influence people. It started at creation when God used words to create the universe. “Let there be light,” He said, and there was light.

God made Adam in His own image—to be just like Him. Is it any wonder that the first work God assigned to Adam was to name the animals—a job requiring the use of words?
Words have started marriages and words have destroyed them. Words have set off wars, and words have negotiated peace. Words in advertisement sell products, and words in complaint comments online cause buyers to return the items for a refund.

Words fascinate, which is why linguistic researchers constantly study language and how it influences people. Recently linguists published a preliminary report of a unique study of North American English. Instead of focusing on meanings of words and phrases, the linguists focused on the sounds—the vowels and consonants.

What they discovered intrigued them so much they had computer programmers develop a program not only to analyse, but to forecast what sounds and combinations were the most persuasive, the most powerful, and thus the most influential in the English language.

They knew that “e” was the most used vowel and “t” the most used consonant, but they were not on the short list of most powerful vowels and consonants. Instead, the vowels “a, i, o” and the consonants “f, l, p, r” appeared to be the sounds represented in the most influential words in English. A complete analysis and report is still years away, but advertisers, public speakers, and writers like me are already looking forward to using words with these sounds to help persuade their listeners and readers.

This discovery fascinates me, and as a Bible translator, I wonder if it will lead to a new version of the Bible in English using as many as possible of these “power” vowels and consonants. Beyond that, who knows? Maybe this computer model can be used on some of the nearly 2,000 languages that still don’t have any of the Bible translated into them. Just think, Bible translators would have lists of words and synonyms using the specific vowel and consonant sounds most influential in those particular languages.

Even in the most remote villages of the world, Bible translators now use solar charged battery powered computers, a far cry from the pencils and notebooks my wife and I used to start the translation program among the Canela people of Brazil 45 years ago. God speaks of the end of time in Daniel 12:4 when “. . . knowledge shall be increased.” Who knows what this exciting discovery might lead to in years to come.

I do know this. These powerful vowels and consonants spell the Two Most Revealing Words in the English language, “April Fool”.

Mandate, God, Prayer, or Coincidence?

In 1983, a group of 40,000 Sudanese people called the Tira were listed on the Bibleless Peoples Prayer Project as not having even a single word of the Bible translated into their language. Today, twenty-eight years later, many Tira are Christians and read the Bible in their own language.

Here’s what happened:

  • In November of 1983, David and Ray, two American students signed up to pray for the Tira with the Bibleless Peoples Prayer Project.
  • In May of 1986, Jerry and Jan promised to pray for this group.
  • In March 1990, Jane and Margeanne committed themselves to pray.

In August 1990, a report came to the Prayer Project organizers that a young Tira man, Avajani, was studying linguistics and Bible translation techniques. The organizers wrote to encourage him with the news that three teams were praying for his people group. They gave the names and the dates when they began to pray. Avajani’s response was astonishing!

  • Avajani told them he became a Christian in November 1983, the month David and Ray began to pray.
  • He was accepted for theological studies in May 1986, when Jerry and Jan started to pray. He heard about courses in Bible translation and was accepted as a student in March 1990, when Jane and Margeanne started to pray.

An atheist reading this sort of astonishing coincidence might well mutter to himself, “Hmm, if I didn’t know any better, I’d think that God was involved.”

God is definitely at work on planet Earth, and He invites us to join Him. He moves some to pray, and some to do hands on service. He wants every person to hear about Him in the language they know best.


Brief Introduction to Jack’s New Column, The Mandate

Welcome to The Mandate! (Mandate son of Look)

This is the column where I will focus strongly on cross-cultural missions, Bible translation around the world, cultural anthropology, basic literacy in societies that have been illiterate for generations, and the beauty and intricacy of human language.

In short, these columns will be like those I wrote in The Look when I was telling stories from our 22 years of living and working among the Canela people of Brazil. I will be writing about the biblical basis of cross-cultural missions, about how important it is that believers are mobilized to go to every part of the world and share the Good News with those who are not yet believers.

The definition of “mandate” is “an official command or instruction from an authority” and obviously refers to what we know as “The Great Commission” from Jesus to evangelize the world and disciple the nations.

This columns, or posts will be shorter than The Look was, no more than half the length. They will be easier to read, absorb and put into practice. Although they are shorter, I expect their impact will be the same.

So, what about all those neat stories from my personal life, and those incisive insights into current events that were not focused on missions? I will continue to write, bringing a biblical perspective to these things too, but not in The Mandate. I am starting another blog, where I will post about family life, marriage, education, history, current events, etc.

It too will be shorter than The Look, but will make an impact. It won’t be focused on missions but I fully expect there to be a missions flavour.

I thought of calling it INsights and OUTflows, you know, the idea of reading, remembering or experiencing something that leads to a biblical insight which then flows from my mind into yours. But knowing me, I thought I would instead call it, INsights and OUTbursts. I think you will know why!

I will, of course, continue to write stories and anecdotes. As a “doddering old dotard,” I have more anecdotes and stories than ever. I must be in my anecdotage.

Please go to the top of the column and click on Follow in the upper left part of your screen. You can all click on Share to send it to others. Or go to the side bar on the right and click on Subscribe, or Follow by e-mail. Eventually I will stop sending out this column directly to your email Inbox and instead rely on you signing up and getting it automatically.

Let me know what you think of this new effort at communication. What you like, what you don’t like, what your recommend. This development is still a work in progress.

By the way, remember that you can hold down the Control button on your keyboard and then roll the Scroll wheel on you mouse to increase or decrease the size of the font. Make it the size you like.