Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

The Importance of Words ~ What’s Your Take?

Not everyone thinks words are important—ever known someone who uses about 100 words and is usually very hard to understand?

How about the person who knows 20,000 words and totally confuses you?

I’m an admitted “word-freak” but I feel I’ve learned some practical vocabularic restraint—I love to study words but I try not to use the ones that “most” folks don’t know

So, since I’m hoping some of my readers will use the Comments to share their feelings about the importance of words, but I’m clearly aware most readers don’t leave comments, I’ll share a few links to posts in the Oxford Dictionaries blog—if I see in the Stats that folks have clicked on the following links, I’ll have learned something about my readers :-)

* A very, extremely, highly, really, most *unique* opportunity!!

* Kapow! The language of comics

* Boomerang vocabulary: words that return to their origins

* Why do some words have two opposite meanings?

What are your thoughts and feelings on the importance of words?

How big should a person’s vocabulary be?

Really, no Really, what are words??

Addendum—Quotes About Words:

All these primary impulses, not easily described in words, are the springs of man’s actions.
Albert Einstein

As soon go kindle fire with snow, as seek to quench the fire of love with words.
William Shakespeare

Words, words, mere words, no matter from the heart.
William Shakespeare

In prayer it is better to have a heart without words than words without a heart.
Mahatma Gandhi

Eating words has never given me indigestion.
Winston Churchill

Words are only painted fire; a look is the fire itself.
Mark Twain

He who speaks without modesty will find it difficult to make his words good.
Our Comment Link Is At The Top of The Post :-)
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11 responses to “The Importance of Words ~ What’s Your Take?

  1. Simone Benedict June 12, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    Ha ha, oh man, vocabularic restraint, can I relate! I used the word ‘frugal’ with a local, a professional sort with some kind of college degree or other. He looked at me all befuddled, “Frugal? What does that mean?” Another struggle I have with the vocabulary in my locale is the heavy use of biblical references. As an example, “We’ll pass this delilah to the next guy.” It took me years to learn what that one meant.


    • Alexander M Zoltai June 12, 2012 at 1:11 pm

      Do tell, Simone—delilah means____________


      • Simone Benedict June 12, 2012 at 1:24 pm

        I believe, when I look at the story of Sampson and Deliliah from the Bible, and compare to the context when “a delilah” is used, it means something that is a pain in the neck or prevents you from doing what you had intended. I’ve never formally researched it though. There was a writer who played with a lot of these kind of terms. Faulkner maybe?


        • Alexander M Zoltai June 12, 2012 at 1:57 pm

          From your local context and adding what my dictionary gives (beyond the Biblical character), “a seductive and wily temptress”, I’m getting the drift of its meaning-evolution—especially the “wily” part: “skilled at gaining an advantage, especially deceitfully”…


  2. martinaseveckepohlen June 12, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    Thank you for these great links, Alexander. Words are powerful, they empower people or take their confidence away, open doors to new ideas or create fear of the unknown. We cannot know too many words, but we should consider who listens to our words: a child, a learner, someone with a smaller or a different vocabulary (e. g. when a gardener talks to an engineer about gardening).


    • Alexander M Zoltai June 12, 2012 at 2:00 pm

      I love your example of a gardener talking to an engineer—perhaps a gardener with a proper vocabulary could use the power of their words to induce a metaphoric-transference of meaning that the engineer could use in their profession—the “blossoming” of new technology, perhaps?


  3. martinaseveckepohlen June 12, 2012 at 2:47 pm

    Yes, perhaps. I have listened to conversations between my father and my father-in-law about gardening and technology. They used a strategy of levelling, even less metaphores and going into details of details. Tiresome to listen to but apparently satisfying to both.


  4. jacobdp June 13, 2012 at 3:08 pm

    I like Simone’s example of the widespread lack of vocabulary. I use words all the time that confuse people yet are pretty common for people that read as I do. I read alot of Greek and Roman Classics and 17th Century onwards, so my vocabulary is probably full of obsolescence to the commons.

    I’ am constantly surprised on the misuse of words and how many times people use words in the wrong context and their lack of knowledge of the definitions of the words they use. It is disturbing, in my thinking, as words are the symbols of communication. Sophisticated precise communication is essential to an advanced civilization and society at any level to function.

    These beautiful little squiggly drawings we collect into letters, then into words hold so much emotion, thought, meaning, that they are little Gods into themselves. I worship, the original meaning only means to give respect, these little deities and collect their little idols upon my Altar of Symbology. The feeling of finding a word that expresses an emotion or thought and being able to communicate this emotion or thought previously private is a great feeling.

    In summary Words to me are the Fire of Prometheus, the Light of God.


    • Alexander M Zoltai June 13, 2012 at 3:27 pm

      I very much appreciate your sentiments, Jacob

      I found this quote as a response:

      “I know nothing in the world that has as much power as a word. Sometimes I write one, and I look at it, until it begins to shine.”
      ― Emily Dickinson


  5. Pingback: 4 Very Different Language Sites « Notes from An Alien

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