It has recently occurred to me that the “correct” spelling of the word godly is not capitalized – ever. There are a few different meanings of this word. The first is “to be like a deity, of or pertaining to a god” and the second is “like unto God.” The only real differentiation between these two meanings is in the capitalization of the definition and yet we have only one capitalization for the word godly itself and the implication of that spelling is towards the lesser used meaning of the word.
I propose that this is a flaw in the usage of the English language. Thankfully our language is one that is flexible and malleable enough to be able to take on new meanings, allow for greater expression over time and to adapt as the need arises. Throughout time English has arisen as a primary means for global communication because of these benefits where many “older” more rigid languages have fallen into disuse or have stagnated as overarching control of the language has kept them from adequately adapting to greater range of expression necessary in today’s highly advanced societal structure.
My proposition is that two words be formed: godly and Godly. The uncapitalized form of the word will continue on to mean “of or like a deity, etc.” while the capitalized form can be used in any reference to the monotheistic form of the word. This keeps literature from being unnecessarily ambiguous. Take the following sentence as the dictionary would have us write today:
Lauren, being a godly woman, ran to work quickly.
Currently this sentence could mean that she was a good, Christian woman who fears God and follows in his commandments and loves her fellow man, etc. It could be that the author simply wants to inform us that she is a “believer” who is faithful. It is a statement about her character and her faith. Her travel to the office could be incidental.
However, the same sentence could mean that she is actually a minor deity or, perhaps, a superhero (an actual example used in a dictionary entry that I checked.) So maybe the implication is that she ran several miles in under a minute to work or that she tossed cars out of her way as she went. Or maybe her job is dressing in spandex and using her super-stretchy arms to stop would-be jewel thieves.
Instead we can solve this issue by simply have these two different versions available to us when needed:
Lauren, being a Godly woman, ran to work quickly. (Religious meaning.)
Lauren, being a godly woman, ran to work quickly. (Referring to superhuman x-ray vision.)
The point is, the word is pointlessly ambiguous. But now I have pointed out the flaw, stated the need and shown how to use the word correctly. Now we can move on. Encourage your friends to use the new word. Use it yourself. With a simple, grassroots movement we can quickly correct this oversight in the language.