Before reading this be sure to remove all children below High School age from proximity to the monitor or screen.

From a reader comes this troubling note:

I had to share this with you, seeing as you seem to enjoy finding "ineffables" lying around. 

On October 10th, I took the SAT at the Catholic highschool down the road.  In both the SAT I took on that day, and one of the practice tests I had taken beforehand,  there was an "ineffable" sighting!  In a standard, generalized test taken by your run-of-the-mill highschool student!!

I have always felt insulted every time the media, or others who know better, water it down for all of us poor, everyday simpletons who then go out and find it in a standardized public test, so I got a kick out of finding out that this word can be found in the SAT!
Here is one of the sightings, the excerpt (part of a  reading section) from my practice booklet (emphasis mine) [That is, the writer’s…]:
"43  When human flight suddenly went from fantasy to reality, the great French aviator Louis Bleriot, exclaimed, ‘the most beautiful dream that has haunted the heart of men since Icarus is today reality.’  Perhaps the reality has been too vexing, too powerful for artists to capture.  Perhaps the limitations of the artist’s imagination have been confronted with the ineffable.  Perhaps the experience of flight itself is so overwhelming that it simply cannot be portrayed suitably on canvas or on film."

How vexing to find vocabulary like unto "ineffable" in a standarized text for High School students.

How inexpressibly cruel… how unspeakably mean-spirited.

Can you imagine having words like this in our liturgical translations?

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. FranzJosf says:

    Just yesterday, we encountered the word the American Literature class that I’m teaching to high school Juniors. (It is in “Sinners in the Hands…”) Half the class already knew the meaning. We had an interesting side discussion on those things in life that are ineffable. They were all keenly fascinated.

  2. lucy says:

    Outrageous!! How do the children ever get that one right? ROFLOL!

  3. Tom in NY says:

    I met Edwards’ works in college. “Sinners” is the leading fire & brimstone sermon, a classic more than 250 years later. “When God beholds the ineffable extremity of your case, …,he will not forbear the executions of his wrath,…” is the citation you want. The most famous image is, “The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider,… over the fire,…”
    It appears there’s one “brimstone” in the text.
    Edwards’ board threw him out for insisting that only the “born again” be admitted to his bread service. He went later to be president of what is now Princeton; smallpox got him before the faculty could.
    Salutationes omnibus.

  4. Mariana says:

    When you notice a cat in profound meditation,
    The reason, I tell you, is always the same:
    His mind is engaged in rapt contemplation
    Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name:
    His ineffable effable
    Deep and inscrutable singular Name.

  5. Discipulus Humilis says:

    I glanced down and, at first, thought, “Ah, The Scream. Nice touch. Wait… what? Is that a cross and Roman Collar?”

    Realization dawned soon after, and thereupon a chuckle.

  6. Fr. John Mary says:

    Okay, let’s just dumb-down our English vocabulary even more by eliminating words like “ineffable”, “transcendent”, “sin”, “justice”, “reparation”, etc., etc. etc.
    Hooweeh! What are we left with? “Dialogue”, “empowerment”, “equal rights”, “I’m okay-You’re okay”.
    Give me the Elizabethan English any day!

  7. irishgirl says:

    Fr. John Mary-I say ‘ditto’ to your post!

    Know what word drives me nuts? ‘Empowerment’! I cringe everytime I hear it…

    Hey, I know who you’re referring to ‘The Scream’, Fr. Z-does his last name sound like a fish?

  8. rwprof says:

    Wrap your heads with duct tape.

    We were giving a final exam, and in my room, a number of students asked what “dearth” meant. Later, when grad students who had proctored exams came back, they said they had been asked and hadn’t known.

    Weep, my friends.

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