I grew up in Hawaii but went to college in California. During my first month in college, I was standing in line in the dining hall, in conversation with my roommate. After a few minutes, the person in front of me in the line, turned around and, with a perplexed look, stated, “You speak funny!”
“What do you mean?” I stammered.
“I mean you speak funny. You have a weird accent.”
I was embarrassed. Growing up in Hawaii, I was surrounded by the local pidgin English dialect. The diction is idiosyncratic and, unless one spent time in Hawaii, may indeed sound strange. While I could speak it, I endeavoured to avoid it, embarrassingly thinking that “educated” people do not speak like this. But my upbringing betrayed me. It was ingrained within me and others easily noticed it, in spite of my best efforts to conceal it.
And the Gileadites captured the fords of the Jordan against the Ephraimites. And when any of the fugitives of Ephraim said, “Let me go over,” the men of Gilead said to him, “Are you an Ephraimite?” When he said, “No,” they said to him, “Then say Shibboleth,” and he said, “ Sibboleth,” for he could not pronounce it right. Then they seized him and slaughtered him at the fords of the Jordan. At that time 42,000 of the Ephraimites fell.
Judges 12:5-6 (ESV)
I am thankful I didn’t live in the days of the Judges of Israel! God included this interesting account in the Bible. The Ephraimite fugitives were tested by their captors by listening to how they would pronounce a certain word. Fail the test, lose your life!
Yes, I do speak funny. But at least the consequences are only perplexed looks and laughter. In God’s Kingdom, we will all speak one language, praising Him for all eternity. I look forward to that day!
Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.