A History of Words #1

What is a word? A word is a collection of sounds put together for the express intention of communicating something. Without words we would live in a completely different world.

The song Bedtime Story (written by Bj√∂rk and performed by Madonna) professed that words have lost their meaning and don’t function anymore. Now back when said words were written the world was a different place, one in which words arguably meant much more, in broader terms at least. But now, in 2018, what do words really mean? It sounds like an odd thing to ask, because of course words mean pretty much what they say, right? 

There isn’t too much to interpret beyond the occasional euphemism. But that’s where times have changed considerably. You could blame Twitter or you could blame Donald Trump, (who happens to have a presence on said platform) but in truth, neither of them really have much to do with it. Certainly, the latter has been a catalyst for the creation of many words, (‘covfeve’ among them,) in his time but that was not in the spirit of literary development so let’s put that aside for a moment.

No, it seems that so many conversations are now held silently; by messenger; by text message; by app; that we’ve lost the means to truly use words as they were intended. Now, on a slight tangent, one is in the habit of frequenting coffee shops and very often it’s a purely inspiration driven habit. Primarily, of course, a writer needs coffee and it helps if it’s in a cool independent outlet. Very often, the only words that leave me apart from the ordering of the beverage are on paper or typed. It’s amazing just how the environment itself can tease out so many sentences. Indeed, the life of a writer of any kind is probably a rather silent one when actually engaged in the act itself. But a conversation with your self is still an exchange, albeit on different terms.

How many words do you speak per day? It’s not a question easily answered, but it’s one I’d like to know an answer to, perversely.  The answer must surely be a revelation to whomever seeks it but it all depends how you communicate in the first place. Now if you’re one of those people who babble along in full flow in a very loud voice, perhaps for everybody to hear, then maybe you’re on the wrong track. It’s not meant as an offense, it’s a valid point. It’s quality not quantity that counts. Just like the ten track album or the finite run of a television show or perhaps an Espresso.

Life has many pleasures, good food, art, music, sex, books, coffee, people and many other things besides and it makes sense to filter out the stuff that just isn’t satisfying. If words are taken as an example, and they are a part of all of those activities and more in some way, then we all need to shut up pretty soon and start listening. The art of filtering conversation is an undervalued one and it only came to this writer a few years ago when on a mission to spend less time typing on a keyboard and more time out in the big world actually developing things to write about. Think about it enough and you realize that 75 percent of words are wasted, having no purpose really.

That’s to my experience anyway. There is, of course, value in every word to somebody and that should continue to be the case but spend a day out walking on the dales by yourself with no company but your flask of coffee and the wind and you realize just how much words are wasted for no reason other than communicating unnecessarily. On the dales, you don’t need to use words, cause there ain’t no-one to talk to. Now I’m not suggesting we stop talking to each other because in many ways it’s already happened.

No, I’m suggesting we value our words more. Really think about what you mean by, for example, Good Morning. Did you really mean hello?  Do you really want to know how someone actually is when you say How are you? One day, you might actually get someone say it like it is and, well, they’re my favorite moments  Stripped of pretense, a genuine verbal transaction with real meaning has occurred and whether you needed to know or not, you now know. That is when you really see the world as it is. Quite frankly, it’s an amazing feeling!

How you process it is up to you but it all boils down to respecting the word, both written and spoken. It is perhaps verbicide to say it, but just by realizing how often we waste words we can learn so much about life. Use short words; use long words; use weird words; use funny words; use no words… but never waste or abuse words. You never know who might use them next and attribute them to you!

Words by Le Monsieur.  Image (c) 2018 SRCZ Media.

Popular Posts