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Disannul?

February 27, 2018

       And your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with hell shall not stand; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, then ye shall be trodden down by it, Isaiah 28:18.  We have heard of contracts or marriages being annulled, but what is it to disannul something?  If annulling a contract means ending it, does disannulling it mean that the we annulled the annulment?  No, disannul is a double negative.  Double negatives were perfectly acceptable in the English language until the 18th century when men like Jonathan Swift and his contemporaries sought to make English grammar conform to Latin, French, and Italian grammar.  

       We lost something in that conformity.  We lost the double negative.  English is a Germanic tongue and Germanic tongues use double negatives to stress a point. Wilt thou also disannul my judgment? wilt thou condemn me, that thou mayest be righteous? Job 40:8.  Job could not express his contempt for those who doubted his judgment strongly enough with a negative.  Our English tongue furnished him with a more powerful weapon of speech, the double negative.  And for that the dream was doubled unto Pharaoh twice; it is because the thing is established by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass, Genesis 41:32.   In God's eyes, doubling something increases its potency.   

       I grew up in Cattaraugus County, New York which is the northern most tip of Appalachia.  Among its oldest families can be heard remnants of Elizabethan speech.  Old farmers might say, "I already et", which is exactly what Queen Elizabeth would have said if she had already eaten.   In my youth it was common to hear an older person scoff, "oh, it don't make no never mind no how".  Only God knows how long that string of negatives had been around, but we can be certain it predates the mid 1700s. 

       When exploring your King James Bible, enjoy the speech patterns.  They harken back to a better time in English grammar before our language was hamstrung with rules that don't really fit every occasion.  I just wish that I had known that in the seventh grade.     

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