H.L. Mencken > The American Language > Subject Index > Page 130
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H.L. Mencken (1880–1956).  The American Language.  1921.

Page 130
 
 
Cambridge came back strong in the eighth when Shawenecy singled. Richards was given a lift by a muff on third, and both scored with the help of a two-timer from Myers and a nifty sacrifice by Thorngate, but the combined efforts of Hart and Beal could not push the anxious Myers over and scoring for the day was no more.
  This jargon, as I say, flabbergasted England, but it would be hard to find an American who could not understand it. As a set-off to it—and to nineteenth hole, the one American contribution to the argot of golf, if African golf for craps be omitted—the English have an ecclesiastical vocabulary with which we are almost unacquainted, and it is in daily use, for the church bulks large in public affairs over there. Such terms as vicar, canon, verger, prebendary, primate, curate, nonconformist, dissenter, convocation, minster, chapter, crypt, living, presentation, glebe, benefice, locum tenens, suffragan, almoner, dean and pluralist are to be met with in the English newspapers constantly, but on this side of the water they are seldom encountered. Nor do we hear much of matins, lauds, lay-readers, ritualism and the liturgy. The English use of holy orders is also strange to us. They do not say that a young man is studying for the ministry, but that he is reading for holy orders. They do not say that he is ordained, but that he takes orders. Save he be in the United Free Church of Scotland, he is never a minister, though the term appears in the Book of Common Prayer; save he be a nonconformist, he is never a pastor; a clergyman of the Establishment is always either a rector, a vicar or a curate, and colloquially a parson. 21
  In American chapel simply means a small church, usually the
Note 21.  I am informed by the Rev. W. G. Polack, of Evansville, Ind., that certain Lutherans in the United States, following German usage, employ vicar to designate “a theological student, not yet ordained, who is doing temporary supply-work in a mission congregation.” The verb, to vicar, means to occupy such a pulpit. Mr. Polack is occupied with an interesting inquiry into the American ecclesiastical vocabulary. He believes that mission-festival, common in the Middle West, comes from the German missionsfest. So with agenda, used by some of the Lutheran churches to designate their Book of Common Prayer. He says that it is not the English term, but the German agende. He notes the use of services to indicate a single service (this is common throughout the United States); the decay of reverend to revernor, reverner, revenor or revener; the use of confirmand to designate a candidate for confirmation; the use of to announce to indicate notifying a pastor of an intention to partake of communion (Ger. sich anmelden); and the use of confessional-address (beichtrede.) All these terms are used by English-speaking Lutherans. [back]

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