What is a word worth?
Individual words are added together to create sentences and then accumulated into documents, speeches, and presentations of all types. Is one format valued or privileged over another?
A word in “Words with Friends” has a point value and is part of a competition. Will my total point value exceed yours? If yes, that game will be added into my total as a “win”. But what about the words that I have evaluated and added to my own vocabulary as a result of “playing Words with Friends” and stretching my own vocabulary use?
“A picture is worth a thousand words.”
A single visual image has a value of many words. Is that value in the visual or in the words that are used to describe what we see in that image? Do I use the same words as you? What is the real value of a “thousand words”? (Or by now are you saying, “Does it really matter?”)
“Words have a magical power. They can bring either the greatest happiness or deepest despair; they can transfer knowledge from teacher to student; words enable the orator to sway his audience and dictate its decisions. Words are capable of arousing the strongest emotions and prompting all men’s actions.”
– Sigmund Freud
How is the value of words shared? Do both the author and the reader have equal responsibility? How and and when is that “power” or “value” passed from one to the other?
What is the lens that we use to consider our words? I remember Kelly Boland Hohne at #TCRWP using the “lens of language” to see more as readers.
These questions help a reader focus on how an author has used language. Is their value in talking about the power of words to help, to heal, to share, to live and even perhaps to love our friends, family, and neighbors? What about that positive or negative tone? Did the message transmit as intended? Did it perhaps go a wee bit astray? Which words are you regularly using? What message does your “word use” send to others?
How do you value words?
How do you share that value with others?
Tuesday is the day to share a “Slice of Life” with Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. Thanks to Stacey, Anna, Beth, Tara, Dana and Betsy for creating a place for us to work collaboratively.
Such a great food for thought when sometimes, as in digital communication, we rely on words only, with body language not present. We need to be so choosy and careful with our words. I really liked the way this slice got me thinking Fran. Thank you 🙂
You are welcome!
Language includes so much. The words spoken and maybe the words unspoken as well. And then yes, the whole thing with body language. Words can heal. Words can hurt. 🙂
Words are so important and we do need to value them. Look at race. Look at politics. Look at violence. Look at peace. Look at love. All have a vocabulary and set of words that define how we communicate and talk to one another about issues that are important. Words are the architecture of meaning.
Thanks for commenting!
You listed some very important words that are the “architecture of meaning.” Sometimes we may be just a bit too casual in our use of words and language!
Maybe one of my favorite aspects about writing is how careful and conscious and explicit I can be about word choices. Oral language doesn’t offer the same opportunities! I should do more with wordles and word usage programs that we can use when we write electronically. Great post, Fran.
As I wrote this post, I was wondering if I “worry” more about words in this kind of writing than I sometimes do in text or even email messages. Or does it depend upon who I am communicating with? When am I careful? When am I just responding quickly!
Even more to think about ~ Thanks, Melanie!
Always such a powerful lens through which to read…and to reflect upon experience, with. I think that the power of words has somehow been devalued in our world – we aren’t as careful or choosy as we should be. Thanks for this post, Fran!
Interesting, Tara as I was just thinking about “value” vs. “power” and wondering if I used the “right word . . .We have to think about the impact of our words!
Thanks for commenting!
Ahhh, the power of words. So important. And so, so important for kids to understand. Words matter.
Thanks, Dana! Words do matter!
Words are so important – so is tone, context and intention. How we use words is important to think about – often I wonder if we don’t think enough about the power of words. Thank you.
Clare, clear communication is so much more than just the words. Your response reminded me of the quote that “the pen is mightier than the sword.” Always more food for thought!!!
Your post has brought up so many powerful thoughts. The words that hit me reading your post and comments:
value, tone, intent, meaning
Words define us. They can lift us up and carry us, and do the opposite. Thinking about words we choose, and how we use them matter. Thanks for making me think.
Thanks for adding to the conversation because words can lift us up and do the opposite. I wonder how often I reach for the “easy words” or when I should wait and not have my words be “first” . . . Right now I am wondering about “tone” and “intonation” – minor change but maybe whether I’m the speaker or the listener!
So much to think about!
Thank you, Fran, for bringing up one of my favorite topics, the power of words. The idea of using the lens of language to grow as readers and writers is a worthy thought. I especially liked the quote from Freud and will probably use that for future presentations.
I love talking about words and think that “language” is the home for vocabulary especially under the Common Core. Specific word choices can also fit under some of the reading and writing standards, but language is our “first go to!” That Freud quote is an interesting one!!!