Saturday, December 03, 2005

The hidden power of words (not what you might think)

I knew I'd hate COBOL the moment I saw they'd used "perform" instead of "do".
- Larry Wall, programmer, creator of Perl programming language (1954- )

There is a place for fancy language. Some people with the ability to manipulate such language don't have a clear idea of when its use is inappropriate.

For example, in western English countries, no one "goes" anywhere any more. They "head" somewhere. Or they head back.
Is "head" a fancy word? It is for some who sense a certain power being able to use a word that is not controversial (not subject to the whims of the political correctness movement) yet still has a fresh patina.

Words have power and people feel that power when they have the ability to use them in ways that might upset others in some way. Someone who uses the word "articulate" in common conversation, for example, wants to stand about the rest. Everyone knows what the word means, but few would use it in common conversation. Unless they want to feel some degree of power over others.

Words have power not just in their meanings, but in the context in which they are used.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to help everyone understand the hidden meanings of the way people use words.
Learn more at

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