The Power of Words #MFRWauthor #amwriting

Welcome to week 9 of Marketing for Romance Authors 52 week blog hop challenge.  Each week, a lovely group of romance authors blog on a common theme. Visit them all here.  The topic, should we choose to accept it, is words that make me go ick.

When reflecting on which words affected me that way, the process reminded me  just how powerful words were. Not just words that we put together to create a story or a lie, but how one simple word can trigger a profound sensory experience.

Those that make me go ick relate to smell--feces, fart, because the smells these words invoke make me go ick.

Since my stomach is churning, I'll move swiftly to make my point in other ways.  When I was a teen-ager, my grandfather had a stroke and lost his ability to speak.  Every day a therapist would come to his hospital room to help him gain some speech back. The word she focused on was...shit.  We all knew, including my grandpa, that he would never leave the hospital. And shit is one of those words that holds enormous power to help individuals expel strong emotion--anger, frustration, hopelessness.

Credit: Siphotography

Sometimes, its not just the word, but its rhythm that induces a reaction. I lived in Italy for many years, and the act of learning to speak in another language -- using alternative sounds and patterns -- taught me several potent lessons about words.

First, the cadence of a word or words can be as important as their meaning.   I love the Italian work, insuportabile, which means unbearable. It was a pleasure to say, and the act of speaking it released some of the discomfort I was feeling.  As another example, Italian often uses a word twice for emphasis.  Instead of saying 'very beautiful' (although they do that too), they often say beautiful, beautiful or thank you, thank you which seems to generate emotions with more force.  Upon returning to the U.S., I still use this method when I went to express myself with greater vigor.

Second, words hold cultural or historical meanings. When not speaking my native tongue, the relationship between language and culture was cut. Words were reduced to a set of tools I used to make myself understood. Interestingly, this made some conversations, such as fights with a lover, easier because the words were just a means to an end, and carried no attachments to other experiences in my life.

My take away from all this life learning, is its not the words themselves, but the feelings or senses they conjure that determine how we react to them. Ick is just one of those reactions.  Words are proxies--powerful ones, but proxies nonetheless.

What do you think?

8 Responses

  1. Hello again, Shari. We're on the same two blog hops this week it seems -- this one and the SFR Brigade.
    • Shari E
      We'll have fun hopping around the blogosphere.
  2. You don't appreciate the value of words until you witness a loved one struggle with language. My mum is entering late stage Alzheimers now and she's slowing retreating into herself more and more. We talk but its a lot of repetition and new thoughts are very few and far between.
    • Shari E
      Heather, thanks so much for stopping by and sharing about your mother. Its true, it takes challenge for us to really appreciate the value of things we take for gratitude. And its so hard to watch our loved ones retreat from us. Keeping you and my family in my thoughts and prayers.
  3. I have a friend whose mother was born in Italy. In all these years, I've never understood why she says words or phrases twice. Thanks for explaining!
    • Shari E
      Your welcome. Try it sometime. It has a power of its own.
  4. I agree on the words relating to smell. Those are words I try to not use if I can avoid them. I've never been to Italy but it was very interesting hearing about how they use phrases over there.
    • Shari E
      Thanks for dropping by, Meka. Smells definitely make a person react.

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