Sunday, April 04, 2021

Easter Vernacular

We greet each other with "He is risen!" and the reply is "He is risen indeed!" It is the same in Romanian and Greek as well, and I suspect throughout the world. I don't know what the word familiarity in other languages, but in English "indeed" has become uncommon, a bit old-fashioned even when I was a boy. We don't say "The Red Sox won!" They have won indeed!  It sounds odd to our ears now, as it is close to the only time we use it. When we use it at all now, we are likely to use it at the beginning of a sentence.  Indeed we will. I know the translation from other languages usually results in Surely He has risen, which is as uncommon as "indeed."

In search of a phrasing that sounds less forced, more natural I thought Indeed He has risen! to be a little better, He has actually risen!* not quite right.  I think He has literally risen! would flow from the common vernacular, with some difficulty.  The phrase is literally true, but works for those who use the word as a mere intensifier as well. Is the presence of both meanings an advantage, or a rule-out? Maybe definitely, or absolutely. Clearly He has risen is a bit better than "Surely." 

Maybe everyone else is fine with this and I'm the only one whose ear doesn't like it.

*Or in Mansplaining or Aspergery speech: Well actually, He HAS risen.


james said...

I think the "indeed" has a slightly different emphasis--one of uniqueness, perhaps of power.

Think of applying the phrases to Lazarus: "He is risen" seems OK, but "He is risen indeed" feels a little over the top.

If you wanted to keep the denotation of the phrase, perhaps "He has truly risen" rolls off the tongue more naturally. Or if you wanted to add something of the connotations, "He has gloriously risen" would work, though it breaks with the usage in other languages.

Grim said...

"Literally" would well suit the current secular moment, as the word is now declared by our dictionaries also to embrace "figuratively."

Assistant Village Idiot said...

As in "OMG! He really has risen!" Which is not at all liturgical, but nice in the context of who would be saying that. It belongs in a church skit.

Texan99 said...

"He certainly has!" or even "You betcha!" It's an emphatic agreement, as if someone said, wow, the weather turned on a dime this morning, it's gloriously warm and clear now," and instead of giving a perfunctory nod of agreement, we said, "You said a mouthful there, brother! It's like spring in a bottle!" Or the difference between responding to "Merry Christmas" with "whatever," and saying, "Well thank you, and a very Merry Christmas to you and your family as well, and by the way, can I help you change that tire?"

Texan99 said...

But it's also like a secret handshake. You don't respond "The Lord is risen indeed" unless you're comfortable with a liturgical response, meaning, "Not only do I want to give you a friendly response to a well-meant greeting, but I want to signal that I profess the same religious beliefs as you." It's a little like wearing ashes on your forehead when you go back to work on Ash Wednesday.