Column: The beauty of words


Words: first in our consciousness when we awaken and last before we go to sleep. If we can’t hear them, we can read them. If we can’t see them, we can hear them. What a gift!

There is a theory that the unborn fetus responds to words before birth. Perhaps, but how would we know? Dementia patients sometimes lose their ability to connect with words (my mother didn’t respond or speak the last couple of years of her life).

New parents are thrilled when their baby makes its first word sounds, but it has probably responded to their words much earlier.

Playing word games is a longstanding pastime – crossword puzzles and now Wordle, plus several others. The board game, Scrabble, is a great way to encourage children to learn new words.

I’m fascinated with how short, one-syllable words connect with long, five-syllable words: praise/appreciation, work/opportunity.

Imagine the confusion of learning another language, such as English. Some words have two meanings: freeze could mean below 32 degrees or stop where you are.

Then there are the “bad words,” the ones we were told not to say as a child. There are also the special words and phrases, “I love you,” “will you marry me,” “you have won.” And the sad words: “I’m sorry, your _____ was killed,” “you have cancer,” “there was an accident.”

Life without words would be a blank.