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.
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?