Words that Work #46
By Graham Bell
I Love Words!
I can’t really remember a time when looking at words – or listening to them – did not fascinate me. Now I was not some kind of child prodigy – I started on comics. But I loved comics. And as I was thinking about this blog I decided to have a glance back at some of these comics. Somewhat depressingly I found my favourites under vintage comics! But in spite of the time elapsed, the names came flooding back. The Hotspur, Victor, Valiant and Rover were always the highlight of my week – they consisted mainly of adventure stories.
The funnies never held my attention in quite the same way – with the exception of The Topper. But whatever comic I could get hold of I would devour. Commando comics became another favourite and then the Superman ones. And very soon books were being devoured in much the same way. Every week I would be at the library re-stocking with such classics as Billy Bunter, Just William, Biggles, The Famous Five.
Quite why English public-school characters captured my imagination in the way they did I am not sure. I lived in a council house in Glasgow and attended state schools but the characters in these books remain vivid to me many decades later.
Even school reading could not put me off, and English was easily my best subject; mind you being seriously deficient in mathematics and science subjects meant I had few subjects to excel in.
So fast forward to current times. Words still enthrall me and I find myself having to ration my own reading in case I never emerge from books. Radio, podcasts and audio books now augment my diet of newspapers, magazines and books.
Throughout the world the output of words is rapidly expanding. And, since the Covid-19 pandemic struck, the words used to tackle the outbreak have taken on an extra resonance.
Which words should be used in slogans? Which should not? Which are clearer? Which words work?
Words that work are the holy grail for marketeers as well as politicians. But we all need to better use our words.
Words also bring huge enjoyment. I wonder how many novels are being read every day across the world? I think of the authors I enjoy the most and consider them wordsmiths - - experts who use words skillfully.
An author who is a personal favourite, and fits the description of master wordsmith, is James Lee Burke. Although he is categorised as a crime writer that seems an inadequate description of someone who as been described as a modern-day Thomas Hardy. He writes evocatively, mainly setting his characters in Louisiana. I have captured some of his words in my quotes file. Ponder and enjoy!
“At a certain time in your life you think about death in a serious way, and you think about it often. Then you have one urge and that is to somehow leave behind a gesture, a cipher carved on a rock, a good deed, some visible scratch on history that will tell others you were here and that you tried to make the world a better place.”
"Rationality deficit disorder. RDD. My doctor is a pioneer in the field."
"A catfish has whiskers so that he would never go into a hollow log he couldn't turn around in."
"I never had any understanding of the big mysteries and why things happen and why people get hurt and do the things they do to each other. I don't think figuring it out comes with age either. Otherwise we'd want to listen to old people. But we don't because most of them act selfish and childish and have to be tolerated and taken care of. I can’t even figure us out much less anything that's bigger than us."
"You can't change the world but you do good anyway so that the world won't change you."
“But perhaps age has taught me that the earth is still new, molten at the core and still forming, the winter forest will crawl with life in spring our story is ongoing, and it is indeed a crime to allow the heart's energies to dissipate with the fading of light on the horizon.”
Stay safe. Lead well
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