“In the beginning it was appealing, and now it is unsettling. It looked like a pastime, but it was actually a pathway to something that you can’t say no to anymore — and Joshua says, “Look this is the danger of looking around” . . . .
Isn’t it true — come on – come one — Isn’t it true that you would like to go back and un-see some things. Arent’ there somethings you wish you’d never seen. Aren’t there some things — come one — and I’m not even just talking about people — just things — some of you are driving somethings you wish you’ve never seen . . . . don’t you wish you never sat in their car — never visited their home — don’t you wish that when you saw her . . . . things we could un-see . . . . if you could go back to just being 21 or 25 or 35 or however old you were — and just un-see it – un-see him – unsee her — your life may be different — in a similar way — don’t we all have some people we could un-meet . . . . I wish I had never met him . . . . I wish I had un-friended”
— Andy Stanley Right in the Eye: Good at Looking
As I was listening to Andy Stanley preach, I realized that he had caught my ears with these unique and different “un-words.” He changed-up the way he framed the point he was making.
Now, we could make the same statements using a very predictable and typical format.
“Aren’t there some . . . .
- places you wish you had not gone,
- people you wish you had not met,
- things you wish you had not done,
- relationships you would like to have never started
- decisions you would like to have decided differently
- friends you would have been better to never become friends with
- events that you attended which you now understand would have been better to never have participated in.
In the typical format, the audience is almost finishing the sentence in their minds. However, changing-up the way we say something gives variety and color to a point which we could have made in the expected and typical format.
More specifically, Andy Stanley takes the verbs — “see” “meet” “befriend” and adds the prefix to the verb. We could adapt this and add some more “un-verbs” to the list.
Aren’t there some . . . .
- places you wish you could un-go
- people you wish you could un-meet
- things you wish you could un-do
- you related to and you would like to un-relate
- activities you attended that you would like to un-attend
- decisions you would like to un-decide
- friends you wish you could un-friend.
- events you participated in which you wish were un-participate
- things you have seen you wish you could un-see
- things heard and wish you could un-hear
- you could unsee — un-see it — un-see him — un-see her
Now, let’s move to another step beyond this particular “un” example. What is being done is the using of established “prefix meanings.” Certain prefixes are understood to carry a certain meaning. When added to a word, they carry-over that general meaning to that word. Here are some of the most common prefixes . . . .
- anti- against /antifreeze
- de- opposite /defrost
- dis- not, opposite of /disagree
- en, em- cause to encode /embrace
- fore- before /forecast
- in- not /injustice,
- in, im, il, ir- not /injustice, impossible. ill-equipped, irresponsible
- inter- between /interact
- mid- middle /midway
- mis- wrongly /misfire
- non- not /nonsense
- over- over /overlook
- pre- before /predawn
- re- again /return
- semi- half /semicircle
- sub- under /submarine
- super- above /superstar
- trans- across /transport
- un- not /unfriendly
- under- under /undersea*
(dis, in-im-il-ir, un & re — composed 95% of all the prefix usage)**
Now, a speaker can use these prefixes to change-up the way he frames an idea. By playing with a prefix, one can . . . .
- composing a list of “un’s” or “super’s” or “under’s” etc
- change-up a single word for grabbing the attention of an idea or concept
- use the prefix in the stating all of the main points
- creating a word which is part of the Big Idea, and make that Big Idea a little stickier
As stated earlier, the art of public speaking takes work. At times a speaker may play with the phrasing of an idea only to abandon the endeavor. It is just not gelling. However, whether it works or not at any a particular time, it develops one’s ability to play with words for other occasions.
Well, let’s give it a try!
Let’s change-up the way we talk about a particular subject. That is the goal!
Verbs: say / fight / begin / attempt / switch / substitute / plan / bury
Prefix: “re” – again
Combined: re-say / re-fight / re-begin / re-attempt / re-switch / re-substitute / re-plan / re-bury
Are there times when you had the opportunity to make a difference and to make that difference you knew that you would have had to . . . .
- re-say it a better way, or
- re-fight an old battle, or
- re-begin that relationship, or
- re-substitute a better option.
Now, there are also actual “re” words that could have been used (re-store / re-think / revise / re-visit / re-make / re-do / re-invest / re-build). You can go to most any dictionary and look up words that start with that prefix.**
But beyond that, you can create some other words to change-it-up and . . . .
- say it a different way
- catch the minds and ears of the audience
- create a different imagery / picture.
Let’s try it with nouns. If you were preaching or teaching about . . . . spiritual gifts . . . .
God has given gifts to His children to edify the church and His people. Some others may have this ability, but you have been given a supernatural allotment. You have been given . . .
How about beginning with a prefix: “Trans.”
Begin with adding “trans” to some words and then think about how that could be applied to a biblical concept and/or person.
God wants you to get through to the other side. He doesn’t just move people to a different place — a different location. Like Daniel, His aim is to not only to transport you, to transfer you, but to . . .
- trans-position you for another task
- trans-utilize your talents at another location
- trans-capitalize on the talents He has given you
- transition you to greater usefulness.
**If you have a “20,000 word dictionary” you can look up the many words that are actually words which we use, prefixed by —– “dis” – “in” – “re” “un.”