09 April 2014

Words are the most powerful things on Earth but they are not just on earth – “Houston we have a problem”.
With a word you can reach out from your brain and flick little electrical switches in someone else’s brain. Say “Red” to someone and think how many neurones you have affected. Images of redness swarm into their visual cortex.
PapillonWebWords can be kind, cruel, gentle or devastating – “Press that button there Mr President”.
Words are ephemeral  - how often do you call someone a Mountebank these days? They compete with each other, evolve and transmute. Gray becomes grey. Gay is no longer brightly coloured. These days a door can be alarmed without raising its adrenalin levels. Less and fewer have fought it out and fewer is the loser – shrivelling and dying. Will we have less words in the future. Radio 4 listeners despair.
Words have no substance they can exist in any medium. They can be on paper or in circuits in binary. They can be spoken and vibrate through the air crashing into eardrums to be translated into nerve impulses and ultimately meaning in a mysterious consciousness.
They can last for thousands of years carved on stone or die in seconds in the air or in a brain. A word can be worth a thousand pictures - what about omniscience or omnipotence?
Words can multitask. The same word can be imperative or interrogative. “Fire” could have a very different meaning if you were standing in front of a firing squad from when enquiring tentatively about how to dispose of garden rubbish.
They can be wormholes to another part of the verbal universe allowing the stream of consciousness to flit here and there like a careless butterfly.  Let us consider the birch. It is a beautiful tree especially in its silver manifestation. Did you know the birch was sometimes made of hazel in the Isle of Man and that Churchill said that the Isle of Man was, of necessity, a long way from the Virgin Isles and that Richard Branson was a teenager when he began his business career ?
What is the following word? – ‘Polish’. Could it be an eastern European with a sheen? What is a bow? Is it the weapon used by a genuflecting toxophilist?  So words are conduits. They are a slippery delight, darting with an eel-like slither, from pool to Sargasso Sea.
I could swear that ‘word’ is a four letter word with its expletive not deleted.  What will be the last word? It could be “hot” as in the sentence “Isn’t it hot?” when the sun engulfs the earth. Perhaps words will have escaped our planet stowing away with us or cunningly, have hitched a ride on radio waves to far flung civilisations where they might meet and breed with alien words.
Hybrid might have originated this way. The answer to the title is ‘Yes, lots’ and so can you.

Papillon

 

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