Formality with God

Discussion in 'Cultural Discussions' started by panjabigator, Mar 25, 2007.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. panjabigator

    panjabigator Senior Member

    غریب الوطن
    Am. English
    How is God addressed in your various languages? Are you formal or informal? If you use God's name in vain, is it viewed negatively? I don't want to tread to far into religious waters, however I had no idea of the concept of using God's name in vain until just recently, and I have grown up in the United States (if that makes any difference). In Indian culture, the most informal person is invoked for God to imply familiarity (i.e. you have a very close relationship with God so it makes perfect sense to be informal). God's name is also used in what my friends would describe as "in vain." I feel like Hindi and Panjabi speakers address God vocatively all the time.
     
  2. la reine victoria Senior Member

    In formal church worship in the UK, God is usually addressed as Lord or Almighty God. In the prayer of confession and repentance we say, 'Almighty God, our Heavenly Father, we have sinned against you and against our fellow men, in thought and word and deed....etc.

    During prayers, sometimes said by one of the congregation, each phase ends with, "Lord, in your mercy...." Response, "Hear our prayer."

    In private, when I talk to God, I use my own form of address. It is informal but still reverential.

    LRV
     
  3. gaer

    gaer Senior Member

    Fort Lauderdale
    US-English
    German uses "du" to refer to God, which normally is reserved for family members, close friends, etc., so address is "informal". This, I believe, was set in motion by Luther. Our German members can give you more information, but I believe what I just told you is essentially correct.

    Gaer
     
  4. vince Senior Member

    Los Angeles, CA
    English
    English uses informal, the proof is that "Thou"/"Thee" is used with God, with are the archaic informal forms of "you".

    French and Spanish also use "Tu", the informal form.

    I heard that Korean does not use the most informal form for God, is that true?
     
  5. Kajjo

    Kajjo Senior Member

    Deutschland (Hamburg)
    German/Germany
    Yes, right. Let me add that using God in vain is not viewed negatively in Germany. Almost everyone swears a few time per day using phrases along "Mein Gott!" or "Um Gottes Willen!". The more religious people are, the more they maybe try to avoid it -- mostly unsuccessfully, though. There are even many other idioms and joking comments containing some kind of informal and non-serious referral to God.

    Kajjo
     
  6. Etcetera

    Etcetera Senior Member

    St Petersburg, Russia
    Russian, Russia (St Petersburg)
    In Russian, the informal "Ты" is used (as well as in English, Spanish and French), but it's always written with capital letter, as well as the pronounы"Твой". But the general tone of all prayers is very, very respectful (but what would you expect?).

    Yes. The Bible tells the believers not to pronounce God's name in vain. However, exclamations like Боже мой! are often to be heard here. I myself prefer to avoid that and say something like "Oh Merlin!" :D , but I believe that "My God!" is better than "Damn it!"
     
  7. ampurdan

    ampurdan Modstachioed modnster

    jiā tàiluó ní yà
    Català & español (Spain)
    The traditional Catalan form of address was "Vós", which is a form with a similar verb conjugation to the French "vous". In Catalan, we've been using two formal forms of address: "vós" and "vostè". "Vostè" is analogous to Spanish "usted". Today, the normal formal form of address is "vostè", although in some formal writings the "vós" conjugation is still used.

    People used this "vós"/"vostè" difference to make differences in treatement. For instance, my father used "vós" when he was talking to his father-in-law, but he used "vostè" when addressing his mother-in-law. He thought that "vós" is more "reverential".

    I've read that "vós" was used as a form of address to one's parents and grand-parents as a reverential form of address, while "vostè" was used with regards to foreigners or people one did not know very well.

    Anyway, the traditional prayers in Catalan use the "vós" form of address. However, I think that nowadays the Catalan believers normally use the familiar "tu".

    In Spanish, the traditional prayers use "tú", the familiar form of address.
     
  8. maxiogee Senior Member

    imithe
    The predominant religion in Ireland for centuries has been Roman Catholicism. The English language and Irish language formal addressing of God are both based on the Latin used in Christianity since ancient times. God is rarely addressed formal in spoken language outside of a church setting.

    Unfortunately many peopel address their God loudly and very informally in public many times a day. Usually with a genitive and an expletive.
     
  9. TraductoraPobleSec

    TraductoraPobleSec Senior Member

    Barcelona
    Catalan & Spanish
    As for using the name of God in vain, I think there is also a difference between Catholic and Protestant cultures and what is considered a blasphemy in one culture is not in the other. Not so long ago, Jesús (after all, a representation of God according to Christianity) was a quite common name for boys in Spain and I was told this would be unthinkable in Protestant cultures. In fact, it is shocking to them that a person can bear such name.

    Did I understand this right?
     
  10. Etcetera

    Etcetera Senior Member

    St Petersburg, Russia
    Russian, Russia (St Petersburg)
    I can't imagine giving a child the name of Jesus in Orthodox countries, either. It would be really shocking here.
     
  11. maxiogee Senior Member

    imithe
    Not just Protestants - Catholic Ireland never produced one boy named Jesus - to the best of my knowledge.
    Catholic children in Ireland tended to be named after saints.
     
  12. ampurdan

    ampurdan Modstachioed modnster

    jiā tàiluó ní yà
    Català & español (Spain)
    I think that it's just a Hispanic thing. I doubt that there are men named Jesus in France or Gesù in Italy.
     
  13. TraductoraPobleSec

    TraductoraPobleSec Senior Member

    Barcelona
    Catalan & Spanish
    If you go to Spain (I am not certain about Latin America) you will see that there is quite a lot of men called Jesús. I guess that this gives them a hard time when they go abroad!

    I said before that naming kids after Jesús was typical of Catholic countries, but, come to think of it, I have never heard of a Gesù in Italy or of a Jesus in Ireland. I don't know about countries such as Poland or Portugal. I think it's very much a Spanish thing and wonder why...
     
  14. TraductoraPobleSec

    TraductoraPobleSec Senior Member

    Barcelona
    Catalan & Spanish
    Exactly, Maxiogee and Ampurdan. This is just what I was wondering...
     
  15. Etcetera

    Etcetera Senior Member

    St Petersburg, Russia
    Russian, Russia (St Petersburg)
    Perhaps because it was Spain where Catholic influence was especially strong. Every time I think about Catholicism, I first think about the Vatican and Spain.
     
  16. maxiogee Senior Member

    imithe
    :eek: And not the Vatican and Italy?
     
  17. Etcetera

    Etcetera Senior Member

    St Petersburg, Russia
    Russian, Russia (St Petersburg)
    No. The Vatican and Spain.
     
  18. maxiogee Senior Member

    imithe
    Anyway - we're getting o/t here. Naming children Jesus isn't about the formality.

    I forgot to mention that the use of 'the holy name' in swearing is frowned on by older people here and tolerated by younger ones because it is so common. I think that many of them do object but don't voice their opinions for fear of appearing stuffy and for fear of getting a thumping.
     
  19. ampurdan

    ampurdan Modstachioed modnster

    jiā tàiluó ní yà
    Català & español (Spain)
    I think that the fact that there are men named after Jesus in Spain has something to do with Catholicism and the fact that this innovation had no influence in other Catholic countries might have something to do with Spanish cultural ostracism during the centuries that followed the Reformation.
     
  20. Vagabond

    Vagabond Senior Member

    In Greece you address God in an informal manner (like German and "du"), but the first letter is always capital, like Etcetera described for Russia (Σε, Σου, Εσύ etc). The rule about using God's name in vain exists in books, but good luck applying it; people use expressions like "oh my God" (etc) every day and all the time. Swearing in the name of God is frowned upon by some (e.g. I swear to God), and cursing the name of God (or Jesus, or Mary) is frowned upon by everyone (it even makes my blood boil, and I do not consider myself religious).
     
  21. ampurdan

    ampurdan Modstachioed modnster

    jiā tàiluó ní yà
    Català & español (Spain)
    Conversely, in Spain, expressions like "Oh, my God!" are deemed a little old-fashioned and affected. Swearing in the name of God is done sometimes, but it is not frowned upon (however, one is not supposed to do so in formal contexts). Spaniards curse the name of God and anything sacred to the Catholic religion millions of times every day. Most of these cursings have even lost their meaning and become mere rude language to many.
     
  22. Fernando Senior Member

    Madrid
    Spain, Spanish
    I agree with Ampurdan.

    Sometimes you would hear "Vos, Señor". "Vos" is a formal out-fashioned form in Spain Spanish.

    The usual way is "Tú" or "Vos". "Vos"="Tú" in some American countries.
     
  23. xrayspex

    xrayspex Senior Member

    Florida USA
    USA English (southern)
    If you use God's name in vain, is it viewed negatively?


    Surely you've noticed that it's ok to say "damn" on TV, but not "goddam". That's usually not even said in movies with other explicit language.
     
  24. panjabigator

    panjabigator Senior Member

    غریب الوطن
    Am. English
    And that's another thing I have noticed recently. I don't place any weight on the word God because I've always referred to God in Panjabi, the word being /wahegurui/. I would never say anything "blasphemous" about God in Panjabi but in English it just never dawns on me that I am using the same word, so I would say "goddamn." Living with my current roommates has had a sanitizing effect on me; I can never mutter even under my breath "goddamn" because of how offensive it would be to them.
     
  25. danielfranco

    danielfranco Senior Member

    :warn: :warn: :warn:
    Oh gosh, gee, guldurn it... Say it like that, and no one can complain too much of you using the name of God in vain.
    However, when I do use the name of the Lord in vain and to avoid confusion and make sure that people understand that I meant to be offensive, I often prefer to use this ejaculation:
    "Jesus H. Christ jumped up in a horse-drawn cart!!"

    Anyway, I always found it peculiar that in Spanish we address God publicly with much deference by using many noble titles for him (Lord, Our Father Who Art in Heaven, Heavenly Father, Lord of Hosts, etc.) and proclaiming that His Will be done, etc., and still speak in the familiar "tú" form (thou/thee).
    And Protestant people, especially here in the States, sure name their kids "Jesus", except they go for other variants of the name: Joshua, Jesse, etc.

    I think...
     
  26. ghoti

    ghoti Senior Member

    Pennsylvania
    English USA
    Just because two names are synonymous or even have the same etymology doesn't mean naming a child one is because of the other. I don't think any native English speaker in North America would name a child Joshua in honor of Jesus [except maybe a wild fan of the Joseph Girzone "Joshua" books... but even then I'd be surprised]. It would just be considered too strange, and the kid would be guaranteed to be teased or even taunted in school. What parent would do that on purpose?
     
  27. gaer

    gaer Senior Member

    Fort Lauderdale
    US-English
    It sounds to me as though your roomates are fairly conservative. :)

    I've never understood why the same people who object to "God damn it", said in frustration for any number of reasons, will probably think that this is far more immoral than saying: "I hate you." Or even, "I don't like you."

    I've always argued that it is the intent BEHIND such words that makes them objectionable, not the words themselves.

    Gaer
     
  28. Athaulf

    Athaulf Senior Member

    Toronto, Canada
    Croatian/Bosnia, Croatia
    In Croatia, Catholicism has also been a predominant religion since time immemorial, and yet some Croatian swearwords involving God, Jesus, and saints are such that I'd probably be banned from this forum if I cited them. Curiously, it's often the people from the most religious and conservative parts of the country that have the most elaborate and extreme repertoires of such swearwords.

    Some grossly blasphemous expressions of anger that pair the name of God with the most vulgar sexual swearwords are so popular that they can be heard on every corner, even from some otherwise quite religious people. But swearing is generally perceived as a much less serious matter in Croatia than in the English-speaking world, and pretty much any Croatian swearword is perceived as a far milder expression than its literal English translation would be.
     
  29. danielfranco

    danielfranco Senior Member

    I sometimes imagine that in the beginning the brand new Catholics in Mexico (the conquered natives) did name their children with important names from the Bible to transfer some mystical protection to them, or because of worshipful reverence... Maybe. But I guess in the present, and for many years now, people have named their children with names they like rather than with names of portent.
    So what I'm saying is that the custom of naming a child José María Jesus might not really be meant as a homage to those particular personages, but just because the parents like those names. Who knows?

    Evidently, I don't.
     
  30. tvdxer Senior Member

    Minnesota, U.S.A.
    Minnesota, U.S.A. - English
    That's sad.

    In English, we longer have a distinction between formal and informal forms of "you" as most other European languages do, but in prayers God is often addressed using the very old-fashioned "thou" (never heard in normal modern English), which was the informal second-person, akin to "du", "tu", and "tyi", several centuries past.

    I read, with some surprise, that in the Hindi language the extremely informal "tu" (what a cognate!) is used to address God.
     
  31. ElaineG

    ElaineG Senior Member

    Brooklyn NY
    USA/English
    Cultural footnote : [Joshua/Yehoshua or whatever was a biblical Jewish name before there was another Jew named Yeshua or Joshua or whomever that was Jesus. My brother, my great-grandfather and dozens of other Jewish Joshes I know are Joshua but definitely not named after "the" Jesus.]

    That said, in my religion, on the one hand, G-d is so G-dlike that you are not even supposed to write his name, but on the other we also have a long tradition of kvetching to him very intimately.
     
  32. viera Senior Member

    Paris suburb
    English/French/Slovak
    Using the 'tu' form to address God may be a relatively recent development. Back in the sixties (in Canada) I learned the Lord's Prayer with the 'vous form': "Notre père qui êtes aux cieux, que Votre nom soit sanctifié..." But now it is said with the 'tu' form. I wonder when the change occurred.
     
  33. Fernando Senior Member

    Madrid
    Spain, Spanish
    There is no contradiction. The most religious peoples are most blasphemious.

    If you are not interested in God you are not probably swearing with His name (unless you are interested in provoking other people).
     
  34. Zsanna

    Zsanna ModErrata

    Hungary
    Hungarian - Hungary
    In Hungarian we use the equivalent form of the German "du"/French "tu". But I would not call this form "informal".
    Even if the same is used for friends and relations, apart from addressing God, we also use it in students' and university teachers' relations or among colleagues (even with great difference in age or hierarchy). In all the cases a serious respect can be expressed by this form: a strong bond with true respect.
    A lot more than by the "formal" form.
    This latter seems almost hypocritical as part of an obligatory (= not sincere) politeness.

    It took me about 15 years to get used to the French way of using "vous" (formal form) here, especially with students.
    For me, for a long time, it did not mean politeness, just "pushing the other person away from me" - which seemed to me not only impolite but also unfriendly and counter productive if I want to be trusted and freely consulted... (Students shouldn't be afraid to discuss their ideas, put questions to their teachers...)

    The Russian practice of writing the same "informal" word in capital seems to indicate to me a similarity in the perception of "I can only trust/respect/be true to, etc. the one I feel close to me" and it does not stop me from respecting him/her.
    Although we use capitals to indicate sg particularly important to us (at least traditionally, the latest fashion is different) even less than in French or in Italian (and therefore in English and in German).

    I did not understand really the meaning behind the other question. Whoever is religious will consider it a sin to use God's name for no reason (Roman Catholics in Hungary) and whoever is not will act as his/her education suggests it to him/her. (Because even if not religious, one may respect others' beliefs and make an effort...) Of course, in most of our swearings and curses God also appears fairly often, just like in other languages. But those expressions wouldn't have their strength without carrying something "heavy"/"shocking" in them...
     
  35. Poetic Device

    Poetic Device Senior Member

    New Jersey
    English, USA
    My family and I say things such as "heavenly Father" and "merciful GOD". For the most part we consider our relationship with HIM informal because we pray to him all the time and talk to him as if he were right in front of us.Saying the Lord's name in vain does happen. It is looked down on and we try to refrain from such things.


    Sorry, I have to disagree with this.
     
  36. Jenniferrrr Junior Member

    United States
    English
    God has very very recently come into my life... about 2 months ago you could say that I had no interest whatsoever. Yet "oh my god" and "jesus christ" were predominant expressions in my vocabulary. Now that I am more aware, I am working very hard now to eliminate these sorts of expressions, they are so automatic I keep finding myself slipping. I don't know why or when I starting using them, but I know it definitely was not to provoke other people. I think they are just expressions that are used so often that the real meaning has been taken away.
     
  37. Fernando Senior Member

    Madrid
    Spain, Spanish
    I enjoy to be disagreed, but Can you explain further why?

    I am not saying I agree with swearing and naming God all the time. I am saying that cultures that have a strong influence of religion have also many swear words based on religion.

    As a Catholic, I do not enjoy those expressions, but I understand that most of them have lost their meaning.

    As an example, it was a commonplace to laugh at the constant use of "God" ("thanks God", Let God want, etc.) by the former president of Spanish Communist Party (an atheist). Obviously, they were just expressions.
     
  38. latinasoy New Member

    us-spanish
    Unfortunately I think just the name "God" is overrated in many cultures and used in many sentences without realizing perhaps it is in fact being use in 'vain'.
     
  39. Poetic Device

    Poetic Device Senior Member

    New Jersey
    English, USA

    Yes, I can explain, and if this is off topic I apologise ahead of time.

    Your quote was "If you are not interested in God you are not probably swearing with His name (unless you are interested in provoking other people)." I know a lot of athiests and what not hat curse by using his name with every other breath, and they are not looking to provke anything or anyone. That is just how they talk. Also, it's like what you just said: These profanities have become part of our daily lives, so no one really thinks about the meaning behind the words. It's like the word good-bye if you will. You always say it, but not that many people know that it is a short version of "GOD be with ye". Do you know what i mean? Or should i keep going?
     
  40. ghoti

    ghoti Senior Member

    Pennsylvania
    English USA
    I agree with Poetic Device. Sometimes saying "Oh, God" is almost like a vocal tic that people don't even realize they are saying. Much the same as "like" and "I mean." In the US it's common to hear people say thing like this: Like, I saw her, like, yesterday, I mean, she was so fat I, like, hardly recognized her, you know?
     
  41. Nanon

    Nanon Senior Member

    Entre Paris et Lisbonne
    français (France)
    In French, like in English and Spanish, exclamations like "Oh my God!" are generally accepted, however swearing with the name of God is still considered as very offensive. In printing, an abridged form is often found.
     
  42. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    The forms of address used with God are not always the same. In formal contexts like the Lord's Prayer, he is addressed formally (I'm sure this is still the case today*). But in contexts of intimacy with the believer, he is often addressed informally.

    * Alas, I spoke too soon. See below. :eek:
     
  43. Nanon

    Nanon Senior Member

    Entre Paris et Lisbonne
    français (France)
    It is relatively recent in the Catholic church - it is one of the changes induced by the Vatican II council in the mid-60's. Since I am not a practicing Catholic I searched for info... and I found this tread, among others.
    The Lord's Prayer is now "Notre Père qui es aux cieux"... but the Hail Mary is still with "vous" ("Je vous salue Marie"). :confused:

    Interestingly, Protestants always used the "tu" as a symbol of direct communication with God, while Catholics used the "vous" in sign of respect.
     
  44. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    Interesting indeed! I don't think the prayer has been updated in Portuguese -- at least, not in Portugal. Pai Nosso, que estais no céu (not estás no céu)...
     
  45. conquer New Member

    US, Spanish
    How is God addressed in your various languages? Are you formal or informal? If you use God's name in vain, is it viewed negatively?

    I think that first you must know the name of your god, and second you must repeat the question again.

    The word god is not a personal name but a title.

    According to the bible, as an example, the name of the god mentioned in it is YHWH (possibly pronounced as Yah-hoo-eh)

    Then, if you use this name YHWH in vain, it should view it as negatively according to the biblical statements.

    If you use the title god in vain, well, that is not the name of any deity but of Gott an ancient pagan idol, and from the biblical point it won't matter at all.

    The Hebrew narration of the Torah specifies clearly that it is the name and not the title the one to be used in vain in order to receive a "punishment" by violating a commandment.

    What is the translation back into Hebrew of the title god? In Hebrew the word is elohim, in Greek is Theous or Dyos, in Spanish is Dios, in other languages is Deu, and so forth. All of these words are titles and not names.
     
  46. jazyk Senior Member

    Brno, Česká republika
    Brazílie, portugalština
    That's always struck me as odd. The occasions I've had to visit the Catholic Church have shown me that Catholics say the Lord's Prayer differently from Protestants. We say Pai nosso que estás nos céus, santificado seja o Teu nome. I agree with Nanon's post about direct communication with God.

    Jazyk
     
  47. Nanon

    Nanon Senior Member

    Entre Paris et Lisbonne
    français (France)
    Jazyk, I could not agree more, but of course we will not discuss theology here.
    What I should have added to my former post is that the Latin form is / was "tu", rendered in Spanish as "tú", and it is respectful. But it appears that in French and Portuguese, the Roman Catholic Church used to consider or still considers the "tu" form as "too familiar".
    I found this (see last paragraph) about the use of "tú" to address God in Spanish.
     
  48. ghoti

    ghoti Senior Member

    Pennsylvania
    English USA
    In English we use the familiar "thou" in the Lord's Prayer, Catholics and Protestants alike. Even though modern translations of the Bible don't use "thou" anymore, it's still used liturgically, since people have become so used to it that changing it would seem like sacrilege. Interesting that when the Catholic Church went almost always completely to the vernacular after Vatican II, there does not seem to have been an attempt to modernize the language of the Lord's Prayer.
     
  49. conquer New Member

    US, Spanish
    Here, the common misunderstanding about using god's name in vain is that people believe that the Judeo-Christian name god's name is actually "god", but it isn't.

    If these forums are close related to what language and translations -including transliterations- are about, it is very important to do it the right way.

    The commandment in Exodus is very clear: "You shall not take the Name of YHWH, your god, in vain, for YHWH will not absolve anyone who takes his name in vain."

    His name is not "God", his name is not "Dio" and similar titles, his name is YHWH (the pronunciation probable is Yah-hoo-eh).

    You are not comdemned if you use the word title God in vain, because that word is not the personal name of the deity of the bible.

    The first step in a religious person is to know the name of his god, because ignorance is causing lots of vain arguments or ideas as it is observed in this topic.

    Lets say, a new law punishes anyone who use in vain the name of President Bush. Then, you are scared to death because you have used in vain the word title "president".

    Funny eh? Maybe ridiculous...I don't know...
     
  50. Poetic Device

    Poetic Device Senior Member

    New Jersey
    English, USA

    Actually, it says in the Bible that no man will know the true name of the LORD, least pronounce it. It is not possible for our mortal tongues to say HIS name.
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page