Tonight during a discussion I realized how strange "we western white folks" expectation of our "black friends" to speak "like everyone else" aka "us white folks" is. I've heard middle and upper class caucasian adults and youth, including myself, make comments about the success of "people who are black" who are willing to speak the language of "middle class." But, why aren't "we" willing to take the time to learn how to speak the dialect of some of our black friends? And why is it considered so off to everyone when a white person speaks like a black person? I remember a day this past fall when I was spending time hanging out with one of my young friends and her family and housemates and I "slipped" into speech patterns that made me "sound" black. After I left their home and realized the linguistical change I made, I wondered how it sounded to my friends. But now that I look back on that day, I remember a similar day when I was in Minnesota and was intentionally speaking like a Minnesotan. At the time I knew that the accent wasn't natural for me, but it took me a moment to realize that not everyone around me would know that it wasn't a natural thing for me to speak with that accent. So that brings me to the question, if I pick up accents when I am down south or up north is there a value statement I could attach to the acquirement of accents including that of black culture in the midwest United States? Can I or is it even possible to judge whether it is right or wrong to acquire whether intentionally or unintentionally the accent of a people group from which you spend the lesser amount of your time? And am I being racist at all in asking these questions? Which then leads me to more questions about when is it alright in general to change one's speech pattern. Is it okay to use larger words and longer sentences with one group of people and use more definitional statements with smaller words with another group of people? Is it okay for me to say "justified" when I am with a group of evangelical Christians and "made into a right relationship again" when I am with non-Christians? When I discuss "salvation" with evangelicals, I may choose to mention the sinner's prayer and the day of salvation, but when I am with mainline believers I talk about the process and stages that Christ has brought me through in order for me to come to a trusting relationship with Him. Is this alright? What is linguistic integrity? Can a person change his or her speech patterns with different groups of people and still maintain integrity and not be accused of being a different person with different people? Or does it show great respect to modify one's speech to fit the culture from which one is interacting? So many questions. It all comes down to the Scripture for me from the Scripture in which Paul instructs Timothy and tells him to set an example for all believers in speech. What does that instruction mean? And what does that instruction mean for us today in the diverse and very globally interactive world that we live in? How do I honor God with my speech? How do I set an example for all belivers in my speech? How has God called me as a Communication major and a Christian minister to disciple other believers in regard to God-honoring speech? i don't just think it is about the words, but I also think it is about the meanings, the purpose, the intentions, the attitudes, and the non-verbal communication? How do we honor this call to honor God with our communication?