Words of Understanding

Bailey - Winthrop, Maine
Entered on May 1, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
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I believe in words. Years ago when my daddy read Dr. Seuss books to me, he would pause at a nonsense word – and I would jump in and pronounce it for him. I assimilated actual words with equal enthusiasm. Zephyr, bosky, gossamer, contemplative… I still get a chill when I discover a particularly beautiful new word.

My motivation for expanding my vocabulary began as a desire to understand everything around me. As my understanding grew, so did my awareness of the power of communication. Words have a power that is often forgotten. They have the power to heal, to encourage, and to cheer, but they also have the power to devastate, to anger, and to scar. Personally, I desire the power of words to make people understand.

Most of the world has grown ignorant of this power. My brother and his friends were playing a video game one day, and every time they grew frustrated, words burst from their mouths like bullets from the virtual guns they were wielding. Profanities, obscenities, cruelties and slurs pierced the armor of my heart and I ran upstairs and wept. They don’t understand. They use these powerfully painful words to punctuate everything, without a thought for the true meaning of what they are saying.

I will keep searching for my words. I have to make them understand.

My search has led me to love learning a new language: French. How can you not love a language that calls a grapefruit a pamplemousse? I was staying with a French family in Quebec a few years ago, and we were about to go to a winter park. The mother asked me if I had warm socks. I forgot the word for “wool,” so I told her, “Oui, comme un mouton.” Translated, that means, “Yes, like a sheep.” She laughed, and I was glad I had made her understand. I look forward to being able to discuss matters of more importance than the material of my socks, but it’s a start.

I still believe that I will find the words I need for the future. When I find the right words, I will be able to make the world see, make them understand, make them feel – the truth of the power of words.