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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Words: Nuclei of Thought and Communication

I have had an amorous relationship with words since way back when I passed high school and joined college. The first two books which I got issued from my college library were Pearl S. Buck’s “The Good Earth” and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's ( the creator of the unforgettable Sherlock Holmes )“The Hound of The Baskervilles” Both books introduced me to an entirely new but fascinating world in which words communicated beautifully every aspect of life. I came to know a lot about China before the revolution from the first book and suspense, mystery and horror as the core of the detective fiction from the second. Later my interest in Doyle's  detective series with the cult figure of Sherlock Holmes deepened and his mysteries turned into unputdownables till the unraveling of the knots in the end.

Sherlock Holmes the enigmatic detective tempted the hungry curiosity of my young mind for long. It is during these years when my interest for reading and learning new words developed and became a lifelong passion. Simultaneously, I religiously started jotting down difficult words and their meanings in the course of my readings. (My father got me a copy of “Oxford Pocket Dictionary” which became my best friend and loyal companion till it was replaced by a regular one). I had a couple of diaries for writing new words and their usage and would look them up once in a while to refresh my memory and this habit has stayed with me till date.

Words are powerful entities and extend their semantic boundaries regularly, defining new concepts, and conferring nomenclature to unimaginable changes which are taking place in the universe all the time. Words keep pace with the needs of the expanding world by assimilating words from other languages and cultures and by coining new words to explain the strides in the field of technology, literature, art, music, cinema and many other fields.

The power of words can’t be over emphasized. It is not for nothing it is said that ‘pen is mightier than the sword’. Battles are won or lost depending on the oratorical dexterity of a General, to revive the sagging confidence of his forces or of a teacher to lift the students out of examination fever or of a parent to calm a restive child or of a lover to overwhelm his partner.

Just look at various word games proliferating in print media and being lapped by young and old. All time favorite ‘Scrabble’ has its loyal fan base. Testing  vocabulary and comprehension of  students are an integral part of school curriculums, language proficiency tests and competitive examinations.

Remember the contribution in this field by the most popular ‘Reader’s Digest’ with its attractive page, “Word Power”. There are readers (including myself) who are addicted to this page so much that the first thing they check out is this interestingly conceived page.

Words will always remain inadequate to express the infinite world in which we dwell. Language says Saussure (father of modern Linguistics) is a living organism and flexibility in its connotative sphere is inbuilt. Words denote particularities but connote concepts as they combine two aspects of the language phenomenon i.e. concept vs. acoustic image.

In his book “Literature and Science” Aldous Huxley says that words empower us not only to communicate scientific quantified regularities but also to weave oceans of human experiences and emotions in a purified, highly sensitized and nuanced language.
For a writer enriched vocabulary is no less than an ‘El Dorado’.

 Image courtesy: Internet

Dear friends, let’s share a few gag bags to revel in the word play

Gossip: A person having a great sense of rumour.
Flattery: Giving someone your candied opinion.
Marriage: A bachelor’s blunder to taste the thunder.
Lock: A device to keep your neighbours honest.
She wanted to see the world, so he gave her a world map.


  1. Aha, now I understand how your writing is so good!
    Yes, good training in the formative years makes a lot of contribution to language skills.

  2. Hi Pattu,
    Thanks.The thing is I started pursuing the writing process seriously a bit late in life. Though I dabbled in it since long but it was perfunctorily done and thus didn't grow into a habit.
    It is never too late and i think both us are doing pretty well in our respective fields and three cheers to us.:)