What is a word?
A word is defined as “a unit of language, consisting of one or more spoken sounds or their written representation, that functions as a principal carrier of meaning.” www.dictionary.com
Think it sounds harmless? Think again.
Words can make or break a person’s spirit. A man can use them to make a woman feel like a sex goddess, or like crawling under the duvet. A few choice words from a woman can make a man stand tall like a hero, or crumble under the weight of failure. Words can be a whip, or a hug. A child can grow strong with nurturing words, and troubled with cruel ones. Words can make us laugh and cry; they can inspire us, fill us with anger, joy, pain and dread.
“Words have the power to both destroy and heal. When words are both true and kind, they can change our world.” Buddha
Yes, words are power. Used by a kaleidoscope of fallible characters throughout the world. The kind, evil, naive, manipulative, insightful, creative…a myriad of personalities…born to be wielders of words.
It’s the way words are wielded though, therein lies the power.
“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.”
How many of us have reassured ourselves with the child’s chant: “Sticks and stones will break our bones but words will never hurt us?”
How many of us every truly believed it?
Words are the tools of great poets and authors. Famous philosophers are immortalised by their words. Followers believe the Word of God has created the Bible. Religious writings are quoted in terrorism. Words are the artillery of war.
Words create the very fabric of our lives.
So the impact of words, and their interpretation by others, can be catastrophic. Even a few very short ones.
“Let him have it, Chris”.
Four words attributed to Derek Bentley during a murder trial in 1953.The prosecution argued that Derek was telling his “accomplice” Christopher Craig to shoot the victim, PC Sidney Miles. The defence said he was telling him to hand over the gun. Derek was hanged.
Yes, words are powerful. Not just sticks and stones to be shrugged off with nothing but a surface graze. Words leave mental scars and memories – they leave a lasting impression.
Words are immortal.
A word is dead
When it is said,
I say it just
Begins to live
Emily Dickinson (1955)
Yes, words are alive. Once they’re out there you can’t take them back. In the case of Shakespeare that’s a very good thing. In other cases, it’s a very bad thing. That email sent in anger, those insults fired like bullets in heat of the moment. Friendships ended, marriages destroyed.
Words we don’t mean, causing hurt and mistrust. Words we DO mean providing a sneaky aside.
“That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”
Oh what lovely words from Romeo and Juliet….a name has no meaning, it’s what something is that counts. Really? Perhaps not. Rumour has it that Shakespeare was sniping at the less than savoury smell at his rival Rose Theatre.
“Ambiguity of information, in words, pictures, or other media, is the ability to express more than one interpretation.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ambiguity
Layer upon layer, words unfold, envelop us, are everywhere. Wherever and whenever we use them, words are nectar to us. We can’t stop reading and writing them. We love to talk, some of us too much, some not enough. We need them, love them, hate them
Can’t live with ‘em, can’t live without ‘em.
“Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.”