Words: How do we use them? Are they really that great?
August 21, 2014
Some words have power and meaning, while some are just silly and insignificant while still helping us to get our message across clearly. While I will not deny that I have used the “words” blah, ugh, pfft, psh, ahhh, aw, and the occasional bleh, uh huh, and yeah, I also believe that it is important to use actual words that are intelligent. I feel that the internet lingo we have come to love and know so well has started to diminish the usefulness of words. Using certain words in certain ways can make a person “cool” or “uncool” just by the way they say it. One can use the pound sign (and no, # is NOT the “hashtag” symbol. It is the pound sign.) in a twitter, instagram, or facebook post either ironically to show indifference to the fad while still contributing, or in complete innocence thinking that it makes their posts better. (Don’t get me wrong, I am a user of hashtaggery. Sometimes in jest, sometimes because it makes sense in today’s internet culture.) Sometimes it does add to the post, sometimes it’s just useless babble.
Having a wide vocabulary can open more doors than one might think. To be able to write professionally can help when one is writing a resume or communicating in person for a job interview, or even just to speak to your future in-laws, or your professors, or even just your parents. We’ve become a culture of not knowing what to say in person, because when we text or respond online we also have the time to carefully think about what we want to say (even when we don’t think about it). Before I became more involved in social media and text messaging, I hardly ever said the word “um” when speaking to others. Now I find it harder to stop it before it comes out of my mouth, especially when talking in front of larger groups. In my experience, I only say “um” when I don’t know what word to say. If you know me well, you know that I usually do have quite a bit to say and it can be difficult to help me stop talking at times. It’s hereditary in my family. Just ask my mom!
I personally like words. No, let me change that. I LOVE words. I think they are interesting. You can look at a word and figure out its meaning by looking at the root of the word. In one of my English classes in high school I had the opportunity of studying etymology for a time. If I didn’t want to be in a career that helps me use my words more, I’d probably be studying etymology instead of Communications. (I like using words, too. Or have I mentioned that before?)
While my own vocabulary isn’t exactly what I’d call massive, I do pride myself on knowing better words to describe certain things. I can usually find a way to give advice to people that ask for it, in a way that they can understand. I don’t believe that a person has to use gargantuan words in their daily confabulation in pursuance of getting their ideas across to the generic personages in their prosaic continuance, but it is fun to know different ways to say what one is thinking.
What brought this particular post of mine to its birth is a peculiar coincidence during my browsing of good ole’ facebook today. I saw two articles: One shared by a friend of mine, and the other shared by a page I have “liked”. Both messages were quite simple. In order to have a better life in XYZ areas, you must learn this one word. The difference came in the word choice. The first article said that to be happy, you have to learn how to say “No” and the second promised a better experience in your career by learning how to say “Yes”. Now, if you have seen the Jim Carrey movie “Yes Man”, you certainly know that going to the extremes of both of these can be detrimental to your life and the lives of others. With anything else in our lives, we must learn to have balance in how we use our words, and how to decipher the words of others.
This post is mostly a bit of my own pondering (or word-vomit, if you prefer the “Mean Girls” description) and a little bit of a call to action. Think about the words you use before you use them. Learn a new word a day and try to use it in a sentence! (I like prosaic and confabulation, myself.) You might find something new about yourself, or you might not. I do guarantee that you will find a new way to describe that “thing” you can’t describe.
Thanks for reading my palaver! Feel free to comment with your favorite (non-profane) words!
(You can find definitions of the words I used at www.dictionary.com if you so desire.)