Tuesday, February 5, 2008


Some words are destined for mispronunciation. For a foreign language learner, that's an expected part of the learning process. But why do native speakers of English have such a problem with this word -- "Christendom"? Admittedly, it's not one we use everyday. In fact it's somewhat archaic to refer to the worldwide Christian church with this term (except for academics). But there is one season of the year when this word enters the common speech -- Christmas. It's not uncommon to hear "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in the background during this season. The song contains the phrase "the belfries of all Christendom." But no one knows how to say it anymore. At least two recent Christian recordings of this song have pronounced the word as "Christian-dom." I've heard enough people mispronouncing it this way that it's become a pet peeve. Everyone, repeat after me -- kris-uhn-duhm. The first part of the word is "christen," not "Christian." Got it? Good.

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