Careful speech (Sir 23:12-23:15)

“There is a manner of speaking

Comparable to death.

May it never be found

In the inheritance of Jacob.

Such conduct will be far

From the godly.

They will not wallow in sins.

Do not accustom your mouth

To coarse foul language.

This involves sinful speech.

Remember your father!

Remember your mother!

Remember them

When you sit among the great ones!

Otherwise you might forget yourself

In their presence.

You might behave

Like a fool

Through bad habit.

Then you will wish

That you had never been born.

You will curse the day of your birth.

Whoever is accustomed

To use abusive language

Will never become disciplined

As long as they live.”

Sirach warns against the manner of speaking that brings death. This could be blasphemy or some profane sinful language that should never appear among the descendants of Jacob. Notice that is Jacob and not Israel. You should watch your language and not wallow in sin, since this is ungodly. Do not get accustomed to using coarse foul vulgar language. You should remember your parents whenever you are with great people. Otherwise, you might behave like a fool with bad habits. If you do, you will wish that you were never born. You will curse the day of your birth. If you get accustomed to using abusive language, you will never be disciplined in your life, no matter how long you live.

Inappropriate speech (Sir 20:18-20:20)

“A slip on the pavement

Is better than a slip of the tongue.

The downfall of the wicked

Will occur just as speedily.

A coarse person is

Like an inappropriate story,

That is continually on the lips

Of the ignorant.

A proverb from a fool’s lips

Will be rejected.

He does not tell it

At the proper time.”

Sirach notes that it is better to slip on the pavement than to have a slip of the tongue. The wicked fall speedily. A crude vulgar person is like an inappropriate story that ignorant people keep telling all the time. Thus a proverb from the lips of a fool will be rejected because he will not tell it at the right time.