Magic words

April 22, 2015 § 7 Comments

Words. The currency of communication, and the tools of my trade.

They’re relentlessly regimented, yet random collections of sound that I never tire of. I love their plasticity, their malleability, the seemingly endless combinations of meaning they can form.

Linguists tell us there are about 6 500 languages spoken in the world. Like an astronomer contemplating the stars in the Milky Way, that number makes me gasp. Imagine the creativity of a world that can form 6 500 different languages! And that’s without contemplating all of its variations: the dialects and creoles and slang, the whispered secret codes of seven-year-olds in schoolyards.

Words are spoken, written, sung and signed. They are shouted and swallowed, performed and preached. They are heard, misheard, not heard.

They swirl and change; they ebb and flow. They are borrowed and bulldozed and bent to people’s will.

They influence our behaviour; our behaviour influences them. We use them to burn bridges, to blur boundaries, to break down some walls and build others.

And we never seem to run out. There’s always someone with something to say about this, about that, about anything and everything. And someone to correct or chastise, coddle or criticise.

What’s not to love? Words are pure magic.

This is the last in a series of tandem blogs with Dave, Cath, Scott, Nick and Brett. See what they wrote on this topic by clicking on their names.


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