Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Power of Words

I knew there was something I was forgetting to do today. It's my blog day! Sheesh!

I want to talk about the power of words. Just to think there are only 26 letters in the English alphabet boggles the mind. Those little letters string together to form words that communicate everything from children's picture books to corporate business contracts. Good grief, think about the bible! The Constitution of the United States of America! Archie comics!

I'm humbled to think my tools as a writer are the same ones used to create Pulitzer prize winners and block buster movie scripts. Little ole me! I feel very fortunate to be able to share in the use of this power that's strong enough to stop wars, seal marriages, and bond a child with a new family. That's used to record history and report today's news. And to write books.

A pithy blog, but there you have it. I woke up this morning with this on my mind, which came in the aftermath of a very visual dream that had no words in it at all. The mind works in strange ways. Or maybe my mind does. Anyway, it seems an appropriate subject for a writers' blog.

Anyone have something to add about this wonder of words we all share?


Danita Cahill said...

I agree Karen, there are so many words. New ones to learn. Old ones to revisit. They make life interesting.

Although I use few big, fancy words in most of my writing, I still love 'em -- I keep a dictionary on the back of my toilet. Uh, sorry. That probably falls into the way too much information catagory. ha!

And Archie comic books? I loved those as a preteen. I'm dating myself here. Not too long ago I saw a stack of Archie's offered for sale at a collector's market.

Back to big words -- one of my brothers thinks that people who use big words in speech think they're better than others. I think it's funny that he thinks that, he's so bombastic himself. I'm boning up on some nice, pompous-sounding words to pull out of my hat at the next family gathering. Now, if I can just decide on which hat to wear to the reunion... Ha ha ha!

Paty Jager said...

Yes Karen, words are an interesting thing.

I happen to have a husband whose first language was Dutch. They have different sounds for their letters than we, not just sounds but inflections. Which he still has to this day even though he's been speaking English since second grade.

Our kids used to give him a hard time about how he said some words and now it's the son-in-laws that like to raz him.

It's interesting that all the different languages have some words that can't be translated into other languages. To think some words we use, others haven't a clue what we're talking about!

Words are wonderful things!

wavybrains said...

Karen, your post made me think of this little ditty my DH sent me (found somewhere on the net):

The longest one-syllable word in the English language is "screeched."

No word in the English language rhymes with month, orange, silver or purple.

"Dreamt" is the only English word that ends in the letters "mt".

Almonds are members of the peach family.

There are only four words in the English language which end in "- dous": tremendous, horrendous, stupendous, and hazardous.

Karen Duvall said...

Danita, now we all know what you do to occupy your time while you're, uh, otherwise indisposed. Hee hee.

Paty, languages are another thing I was thinking about, too! The sounds of words. I mean, look at the Chinese language. Or I should say, listen to it. To me, it sounds like a series of grunts and chopped up syllables, and ours probably sounds really weird to them. They're speaking words! Just like us, only different. This boggles me, too.

Wavy, I like trivia like that, almost as much as I like word games. Snigglets, anyone?

Alice Sharpe said...

I like words, too, Karen, what writer doesn't, I guess. I was editing the hero's dialogue a few weeks ago when I met my son for lunch. I swear, I repeated about every other thing he said because he has this wonderful way of using language and phrasing himself and I'd just been working to make the hero's dialogue spare and "manly." It really struck me that not all men talk in grunts and one syllables!

Shake head at yet another cliche biting the dust.

Letters are like colors. Mix and match, make shades, define nuances, infinite possibilities. Fun blog!

Danita Cahill said...

Karen, in '98 I went to China (Alice has been there too). I speed-learned a little of the language -- you know hello, how are you, please, thank you, airport, fork -- things I thought I might need to know. Learning even those few words was harder than it sounds because the launguage is tonal.

In Chinese, the word "ma" for example, means Mom, horse or a really vulgar insult, depending on the tone you use. Needless to say, I didn't utter the sound ma once while I was there. Ha!

I made some Chinese friends before the trip. They helped me with Chinese, I helped them with English. Our lack of tone was just as confusing to them. When Grace -- her American name -- asked me to give her the tonal difference for Flower and flour, I could not. She just shook her head in dismay. Both words, to her, also sounded the same as the word floor. Imagine how confusing our language is to them as well....

Genene said...

Interesting blog, Karen. Kind of like there are only seven (or however many -- I've forgotten!) story plots, but they are written in so many different ways that they are very different.

And doesn't Hawaiian only have 12 letters? It truly is amazing!