What’s in a word?

October 5, 2009 § 1 Comment

When everything I tweet about is interesting, eventually I need a new word for interesting, because the meaning I once held with the word ‘interesting’ has been diminished and diluted by my own abuse of it.

What’s in a word?

So often companies and individuals alike have a list of the words we use and the words we don’t use.  Over time these lists have developed as we have tied certain meanings to each of the words and attempted to create our own identities and brands.  Using ‘proud’ vs. ‘pleased’.  Eliminating negative words, ‘I don’t want any debt’ vs. ‘I will be abundant’.

Words are what help us to frame our world, our perceptions and our existence.  Words can have a variety of different meanings for the person using them depending on what our past experience has been.  ‘Dog’ can instill fear in someone who was bitten as a child, or joy in someone who grew up with a family pet.  ‘Party’ can mean a great time to some, but petrify those who don’t like crowds.

Catch phrases can often become tiresome to the user and listener alike.  For example, I find so many things ‘interesting’ on the web.  But because I use it so often as a quick description of what I just read, the meaning I once held with the word ‘interesting’ has been diminished and diluted by my own abuse of it.

There are also plenty of words that I have chosen to banish from my vocabulary because of the connotations I associate with them: don’t, need, should, have to.  To me these are negative words, and they attract negative elements.  Don’t think about an apple.  Don’t focus on the negative.  Focus on the positive.  Which sentence actually entices you to think positively?

My day to day is continually bombarded with a variety of statements, but as I begin to question my own outlook and use of vocabulary, I begin to question the use of words by others and the motivations behind it.  Whenever someone says to me ‘You should be doing this’ or ‘You need to try this’, those to me are trigger words to stop and ask ‘why?’  Is their suggestion something that will actually help me?  Or do they have something to gain from my actions?  And if they do, is it a win/win scenario?  Or focused solely around their own wants?

Words are funny things.  Their use and their interpretations, whether consciously or unconsciously, influence so much of our day to day.  What words would you consider ‘trigger’ words?  What words have you eliminated from your vocabulary?  And vice versa, are there any words you attempt to use more often?

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§ One Response to What’s in a word?

  • Adrian Schatzmann says:

    Trigger words… well, I stay a little more basic – like, you know, f***. These are trigger words for me.
    THey also trigger a reaction if they are/were said several time in a short time.

    You know, like when someone is talking to you, like, they explain something, you know? And they, you know, say those words very often, like, you know…

    I do not enjoy this speak pattern very much… It sounds improper. And I met two English teachers that talk like that. Well, may be a little less extreme.

    I assume they picked it up during high school; but do they not hear the difference if they listen to someone else that does not use f…, like and you know in almost every sentence? It does not even have to be more eloquent.

    One of those teachers was teaching English in foreign countries. If the teacher talks to the students in this manner, how does that affect the students? Are they going to copy this pattern because they are being taught by a teacher from an English country, and therefore it must be proper English?

    Do they speak like that because they have a tinier vocabulary than other?
    Do they not care?

    As Wendy is replacing negative words/sentences with positive examples, I am trying to use an English that everyone understands and uses a broader vocabulary. The refinement is going to be applied a little later.

    Hmm…, do I just have a too high standard?

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