English is a constantly-changing language. The World English Dictionary defines pejoration as “semantic change whereby a word acquires unfavorable connotations.”
I was reminded of this on Friday when a friend pointed out the title of a popular book by David Platt, Radical. The tragedy in Boston two weeks ago was a reminder of the radical elements in our world. We speak of students being radicalized. The word has taken on nuances of meaning that weren’t present in the past.
The call of Jesus is a call to live a radical life, and nobody puts that idea across better than David Platt, which accounts for the book’s bestseller status. And we hate to have to surrender a perfect adjective to the effects of mass media and popular culture. But it is incumbent on communicators to choose their terminology carefully; to make their message and intention crystal clear.
Do you think this is over-reaction, or do you think my friend was being highly alert in spotting a linguistic shift that has negative repercussions if we are misunderstood?