The Power and Poverty of Words

I believe C.S. Lewis might have said something about the “poverty of words”. He couldn’t have said a truer word.

Oh yes, the story was perfectly clear in my head! I could watch the story happening like a movie in my mind as I wrote it – of course it made perfect sense to me! So in order to paint the picture I have in my head so that you can see it in yours – I have to use words.  There were so many things I wanted to express, or describe or elabourate on in the writing of the book, but words failed me at the point, and I had to abandon those ideas and keep things simple just so that the reader does not get confused. When I wrote something one way, one of my proof-readers will “get it” and another will completely miss the point. I thought I’d been clear!

I am so thankful to my proof-readers Tim D and Amanda L – two VERY different readers who have helped me out with reading the scripts and giving me feedback. My best friend Kate W also gave me lots of pointers to help me be clearer in the expression of the story. They pointed out all the discrepancies and all the phrases that made sense in my head (but in reality resembled more a dog’s breakfast), all my grammatical errors, and of course, the spelling errors. Any writer would know that once you are on a roll things just get typed and sometimes mistakes happen in the silliest places! And as they were editing I was making more and more refinements to the way the story flowed and how things were written and so on. Had I all eternity to work on it, I would have been editing the manuscript till Kingdom Come.

Words are powerful – our words can carry enormous power: to wound, to heal, to bore, to entertain, to influence another for good or for evil… I wonder if you have ever stopped to wonder why? Why do phonetics and intonation make meaning in a particular sequence – something which we cannot see or touch – how can it encode so much? Having done my Tertiary Education in Communication Sciences and Disorders (I studied as a Speech Pathologist – then gave up) I was particularly interested in the question.

On the other hand, how can four dimensional thoughts with all its inputs, influences, and the circumstances that surround the utterances be put into a simple sequence of sounds – let alone on a two dimensional sheet of paper? The physiology of language formation, learning and production is complex enough, then to add abstract thought into it just makes for a “brain hurt” scenario.

It seems that language is all at once wonderful and majestic in its scope and sway; and falls woefully short of adequacy all in the one go.

While day to day communication is important to mere mortals; there is nothing that can sway a soul like a well-read verse, or a good story told, or a moving tribute written for a purpose. What moves our very heartstrings go above and beyond things which are necessary for survival. This, I would put to you, is a clue to something greater and higher than ourselves.

Yet on the other hand, I think most of us have had the experience of being misunderstood, or having our words taken out of context.  It can also carry destructive power, or carry meaning we never intended. Such is the failure of words to convey all of our meaning. For all of our years on earth, us humans have progressed in many ways but our language has never been able to be perfect.

The Power and the Poverty of words is a clue. There is something of the Divine in our make up and yet something that falls short which we cannot help ourselves out of. We are made in the Image of the Living God – who Created the Heavens and the Earth out of spoken Word; and yet we fail the moment we open our mouths to express that which is adequate and fall short of the Glory of the Creator. Yet there is One who can help and the Gift is there. It is The Word of God (John 1:1-3). Why don’t you look in The Old Book and see if you can find the answers?


~ by alta6060212 on February 14, 2012.

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