I read somewhere that words were the way we made sense of the world around us. And the fluency of our communication is the only difference between animals and humans.
But then someone else posed the philosophical question “Do words create our reality or does our reality create our words?”
Interaction between people is only possible with communication – whatever method is used; and words of course are only one method of communication. But how important are the words.
We all know that amazing feeling when someone who loves us silently reaches out a hand to take ours. Not a word was spoken and yet we know what was meant.
So are words as really important as we think? After all we all know about Mehrabian take on body language… don’t we?
I found this delightfully whimsical look at the ‘reality’ of the myth of the importance of body language – Busting the Mehrabian Myth
So of course our words are important and while subtle messages of emotion and feelings can be transmitted with smiles and touches, it is the message of the words that creates our reality for us.
We certainly are able to affect that reality with the words we choose to use – every fan of visualisation and positive thinking are well aware of the power of the words we use. Self Talk – whether it be positive or negative – is the narrative that we live with every day of our lives.
And what we say to our selves is what we believe about ourselves. So in that sense the words we use do impact upon our realities.
The real secret of magic is that the world is made of words, and that if you know the words that the world is made of, you can make of it whatever you wish. ~Terence McKenna
“The best words in the best order” is a fabulous description of poetry by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and words put in the best order can also inspire and motivate us to achieve more that we thought we could.
Unfortunately, what can inspire us also has the power to enslave us.
The basic tool for the manipulation of reality is the manipulation of words. If you can control the meaning of words, you can control the people who must use the words. ~Philip K. Dick
We can see that happening today, when words like ‘racist’ or ‘fascist’ are used solely to close down debate and discourage discussion. And many innocent words of yesterday have passed out of polite usage because of modern interpretations.
Did you know that there is web site that actually counts the number of words in the English language? As at the 9th of February 2010 it was estimated that there were 1,033,322 words in the English Language available for our use.
But as it is also estimated that the language adds a new word every 98 minutes that figure is well and truly out of date.
If we have so many words at our command why are we so lazy at choosing the ones we want use?
I am not always offended by the use of swear words (I did spend a lot of time in the army) – and there are some curses that have an air of majesty about them – especially some colloquial Australian ones like :
‘May all you chickens turn into emus and kick your dunny down!’ (I would translate that for non-Australians – but I don’t think I can)
However I abhor and despise foul language. It is the epitome of laziness to me, especially when there are so many better ways of expressing yourself in moments of stress or bringing pomposity down!
A rapier can kill as swiftly as a machine gun – but it makes far less mess, and so with words; carefully chosen and skilfully used they can be fearsome weapons for a devastating ‘put down’.
I am a great fan of Dorothy Parker, an American writer of the 1920’s and 30’s – and I don’t think you can beat such reviews as :
“This is not a novel to toss away lightly – it should be thrown with great force!” and of course
“If all the young ladies who attended the Yale promenade dance were laid end to end, no one would be the least surprised!”
The key is in the subtlety!!
So let’s be grateful for all the words that are out there waiting for us to discover them – and as for my parting few words I don’t think anyone has put it better than this :
A word is not a crystal, transparent and unchanged; it is the skin of a living thought, and may vary greatly in colour and content according to the circumstances and the time in which it is used. ~Oliver Wendell Holmes
Michele @ Trischel