The power of words

The written word is not tantamount to symbols and letters strung together; it has the ability to sway opinions; to declare wars; to create imaginative worlds to visit; and to help us empathize with someone we’ve never met.

I think those who have a real love for language appreciate many aspects of how words fit together to create something wholly new and amazing. For instance, when reading, I find great joy in coming across a new word that precisely captures a feeling or idea.

On a completely different tangent, words can induce emotion through sound. Many poets emphasize this. A line ending in a harsh sound, for instance “clock,” feels different from a word with a soft sound, such as “smile” as it leaves your tongue and lands on your ears. Authors use this as well, for instance when naming characters. Think of famous names from writing that have entered our language as words, including Scrooge and Babbitt. The names sound like the character.

Continuing with the power of sound, tools such as assonance and alliteration can be used in poetry, fiction, and titles to great affect. The repetition of sounds can be charming, amusing, tongue-tying, or any number of emotions when used correctly. Think of well-known characters that employ this: Betty Boop, Willy Wonka, Olive Oyl, Gellert Grindelwald, and many more.

Words are a powerful, wonderful, frightening tool!

4 Comments

  1. And yet…and yet…words can be tricksy, dangerous, deceiving. They can slip between your fingers, imply things you didn’t want to say. They can clump together to make a curse; one word- a yes or a no- can change a whole life. Words are dynamite.

    I like this piece very much. It’s clever and thought provoking.

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