Verba potentia sunt.

Hello everyone! It has obviously been a very long time since I posted, but I thought this an idoneous time to revive my once-dormant blog. I have been off saving the world by listening to jazz, writing about Shakespeare (with a bit of acting thrown in), reading Greek epic poetry, analyzing aviation accidents, and surviving differential equations.

I have come to realize yet again how much I love language. Words are powerful. No, not in the Marxist sense of Deconstruction. But really, words are powerful. Not only are their meanings determined by their context - both culturally and historically - but they're also determined by the individual thoughts and perceptions of those to whom the words are communicated.

What is communication? Is it knowing exactly what someone is saying literally? Or is it knowing the idea or feeling that the person is trying to convey? I would argue for the latter. It is of paramount importance, then, to consider how words and language fit into effective communication. With our definition of communication as an idea or feeling conveyed to another person, communication can be seen to include not only words and their literal meanings, but also body language, facial expression, and speech inflection. However, as important as these other elements are, the words themselves must not be underrated.

How do words contribute to effective communication? This is an important issue to consider, especially given the obvious successful communication achieved by written works such as novels, stories, and poems. In those cases, language must stand by itself and, in a sense, provide the reader with all of the sensory information of interpersonal communication using just written words.

Words are powerful, first, in their meanings. The essence of effective written communication is using powerful words. For example, contrast the words "scared" and "terrified." It is obvious that the second word is much stronger, for it not only conveys the same emotion, but it goes a step further and introduces a nuance of emotion. Next consider "scared" and "uneasy." Again, the second word is stronger and gives a different mental picture to the reader. Contrasting "terrified" and "uneasy," we can see that although the two words have essentially the same root meaning, they communicate radically different ideas. This illustrates how heavily effective communication relies on the use of the right word at the right time. Using powerful words that work together to communicate the same idea can create an extremely compelling picture for the reader.

Flowing from the idea of using words that work together, the combination of words is also part of effective communication. For example, two similar-sounding words placed in close proximity can catch the reader's attention and provide aural support for the idea being communicated.

Powerful words can also be used to describe objects, scenes, landscapes, facial expressions, actions, and even ideas to create vivid mental pictures in the reader's mind. These descriptions can stimulate the reader's mind and create communication that includes all of the senses.

The power of language, then, is the foundation for the other sensory aspects of communication. If words are spoken out loud, their sounds - especially those of onomatopoetic words - can enhance the meaning of the words. The more obvious aspects of the physical delivery of the words can also help to elucidate the idea being communicated. Again, however, effective communication relies most heavily on the words themselves, for words, indeed, are power.

I was going to post a story tonight, but it looks as if you got an essay on the power of language instead. I think I'm still in school mode. Incidentally, I wrote an essay for my humanities class on how technology has contributed to the deterioration of effective, meaningful communication; I suppose that could be considered a "prequel" of sorts to this essay.

And I'll let you in on a little secret: the real power of language is its power to keep me up late. :)I'll get the story up soon, but all this serious thought about language and words is reminding me how inept I am at using them. :P

I'm still trying to come up with a title for it. I'm thinking, "Illusio."

1 comments: (+add yours?)

Great Googly Moogly! said...

Good essay. Great essay. Spectacular essay. Stupendous essay.

I enjoyed reading this. My mind was feeding on your wonderful writing. I felt my mind expanding as I read this. My head hurts. My head is ready to explode! The truth of your words to my mind are like chocolate to my taste buds.

Words, words, many choices!

Seriously, this was a very intelligent and well thought-out piece of writing. You should "rap" this sometime! :-)