Just say it ( The power of Words)


Why should the mere mention of a word mean so much to anybody? This question was born out of an interaction I had with a friend- Val.

She was very angry after ending a phone call one afternoon. To me, maybe the call had tripped, or the service provider ended abruptly her all important conversation with her beloved Joe because she didn’t have enough airtime.

On our way to the office that morning  until our MPhil. interview prep later that evening, Val looked worried like someone who had performed poorly in a quiz. Or was  she only nervous towards the interview on Friday? Well, if the cause of her worry was the latter, it was okay, because  I wasn’t feeling any different.

We began the interview prep without Pearlyne- another colleague and interview candidate. Val was moody and I thought it wise to help her with techniques to ease her anxiety and cracked a few of my best jokes yet she didn’t badge at all, only giggled a few times.

Then came the big question, ” Val, what’s the problem?” she first starred at me and said ” Ray, I’m fine”. I tried coaxing the problem from her by probing further. And then, she burst out ” Isn’t it Joe !”. I asked “What about him?”. when she sat properly ,I knew I had broken through. Val began by telling of how her beloved boyfriend never ended even their romantic midnight phone conversations with a common “bye”.

She went on and on and on about how it really hurts her feelings and emotions anytime he didn’t say  goodbye before ending his phone call and when he did, it was as though he  had a gun pointed at his head.

While I sat and listened to her with amusement, I asked why the mere mention of a word as simple as bye could mark the beginning of World War III in Val’s love life.

So I read a little into why words and their meanings meant so much to us and especially why people found it very difficult to express themselves in words.

What are words and why are they important?

In linguistics, a word is the smallest element that may be uttered in isolation with semantic or pragmatic content (with literal or practical meaning). This contrasts with a morpheme, which is the smallest unit of meaning but will not necessarily stand on its own

Plato analyzed words in terms of their origins and the sounds making them up, concluding that there was some connection between sound and meaning, though words change a great deal over time. John Locke wrote that the use of words “is to be sensible marks of ideas”, though they are chosen “not by any natural connection that there is between particular articulate sounds and certain ideas, for then there would be but one language amongst all men; but by a voluntary imposition, whereby such a word is made arbitrarily the mark of such an idea”. Wittgenstein’s thought transitioned from a word as representation of meaning to “the meaning of a word is its use in the language.”

To me, words represent an expressing of thoughts and feelings. Words are important aspect of communication. The importance of words have been underestimated over the years with axioms such as “Actions speak louder than words” ,and ” its easier said than done ” among others, yet we can’t rule out completely its importance especially in instances where they are said with sincerity and passion to act accordingly.

There have been historical instances where the use of words where essential.

The bible teaches that this world and all except humans in it were formed from the words spoken by God.

Poets paint pictures with words,

If you are reading this, Words made that possible,

Even without Words you can’t play scrabble,

Words like ” I am sorry” ” I love you” ” I care” among others strengthen and save our relationships especially if you are a guy like Joe and have a lady like Val.

So next time you say hello on the phone, please do remember to say goodbye at the end just in case…


From Ray with love

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