In the normal course of events, we use words without thinking much about them. We communicate with a variety of people verbally, with non-verbal communication skills of gestures and movements, and written skills.
Even if we spend a day without human contact, we have internal conversations or thoughts with ourselves, pets, via email, ordering something online, playing a game, watching television, listening to the radio and a myriad of other communication methods that involve words. We can’t escape them. Since words are such a part of day to day life, we usually end up taking most words for granted. Then, something happens that puts words we don’t think about into the forefront, and we’re reminded why and how words matter.
Virus, quarantine, masks, vaccines, tests, contagious, isolation, lack, suspended, closed, take-out, supply, demand, ventilators, lonely, dying, civil liberties, entitlement. These are just a sample of words that always existed, but no one gave much thought to their meanings.
People in the medical field used some of these words in their normal course of business. Now, many of these words are part of our everyday lexicon, and have an import most would never have imagined.
I like words. I guess that’s why I’m an avid reader and listener who tries to pay attention to words used by others. But, like with most, I get lazy about words. It’s easy to use well worn words each day. Clichés, using the same sentences/words as excuses or descriptors, are things we all do.
Occasionally I thumb through my dictionary or thesaurus that is usually nearby. There really is a bunch of great words out there that one doesn’t hear too much anymore.
I’m currently listening to a book by a duo of authors who also like words. This particular book is one that features one of their recurring protagonists. I realized the plot hasn’t been as catching, but I’m finding myself enthralled with the words they use. I was reminded that’s probably my real interest in the series.
The problem is I usually listen to this series while driving, which prohibits me from writing a word down to look up later. I get irritated with myself when I’m not always successful at remembering to look up the various words that caught my attention and curiosity, so I find myself revisiting sections of the book to capture some of the melodious words they treat us to in their narrative.
Most often our conscious and subconscious views of situations and the world at large are based on words we hear or see. We place value on words. We expect and hope people will keep their word, make decisions and take a course of action based on their words.
Our relationships with people depend on words, both spoken and unspoken. Relationships flourish, or end, because of words and the actions/inactions that accompany those words. Words can inspire, motivate, comfort; they can also incite violence, fear and hatred. Words empower; words destroy.
We decide if we want to operate with words that convey truth or lies. We navigate those waters every day.