Monday, February 1, 2010

The Proper Pronunciation of the Word "Business"

Today in church we heard much significant discussion of church business. Our excellent diocesan convention this past weekend had much to provoke thought. I was glad to attend Friday and do some photography.

But, throughout the discussions this morning, I kept hearing the word "business" pronounced as "bizness." This is a common error that has, seemingly, become universal in at least the past century. I, myself, fell into this error a very long time ago. I failed to pronounce the "i."

A few weeks back I was reading some of the poetry of John Donne. These poems are 400 years old. And what did I see? Not "business" but "Busy Ness." As in "Busy, Busy, Busy." During my years of working in "business" I -- and other people as well -- noticed that some of the busiest people were not really accomplishing much. But they were sure "busy."

Might I suggest using the word "enterprise" instead of "business." There is in our small library downstairs a 1952 Webster dictionary. It defines the word "enterprise" a "that which is undertaken or attempted to be performed; a project attempted; particularly a bold, arduous or hazardous undertaking; an active and enterprising spirit; ready to engage in undertakings of difficulty, risk or danger." Hmm. Perhaps that is why the starship in "Star Trek" was named "Enterprise" rather than "Business."

Now go back to what ever you were doing. And try not to laugh too hard when some pompous fool goes on about "business." Oh -- the people in church this morning using the word "business" were all fine people for whom I have the greatest respect.

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