Do Words Actually Matter?

The question is almost stupid to answer because on certain level they must matter or else I wouldn’t publish my thoughts. So words must matter to you because well you are reading this and you most likely communicate with society. There is a very good reason that being deaf and/or mute is an impediment to having a normal life. Communication is the lifeblood of society, at some level we all need to communicate for a host of reasons.

So words matter to the extent that one needs them to communicate with others in society, but on a deeper level do words really matter?

Hmmm, okay, well I am trying to convince you of certain position, so I must feel that words matter in the sense that the meaning of the words strung together can form a hopefully coherent argument that sways you to accept part or all of my position. But again we aren’t quite at the heart of the matter of do words matter.

Well let me first clarify the question a little bit, by do words matter, I mean do the words that we speak do they make a difference on our lives. In other words if someone insults you, does that hurt your feelings?

It’s an interesting problem, mainly because we all know that words matter because we use them all the time to communicate, to debate, to show emotion, a host of things only happen because of words.

Imagine trying to tell someone that you love them, without being able to talk to them. Just try to see how to express that emotion without the words to go along with it. Sure you can buy them gifts, give them your time, make love to them, but does any of that really truly express your feelings over this person? I doubt it.

Now that I have danced around the issue enough, let me just answer the question. Words don’t matter it’s the intent and the feeling behind the words that really matter.

Words themselves I believe have no power in and of themselves, it’s the emotion and purpose behind the words that give words power. Words are just that words, abstract concepts strung together in a meaningful manner to describe something. Imagine a beautiful poem, but being read in a monotone voice:

by John Donne

AS virtuous men pass mildly away,
And whisper to their souls to go,
Whilst some of their sad friends do say,
“Now his breath goes,” and some say, “No.”

So let us melt, and make no noise,
No tear-floods, nor sigh-tempests move ;
‘Twere profanation of our joys
To tell the laity our love.

Moving of th’ earth brings harms and fears ;
Men reckon what it did, and meant ;
But trepidation of the spheres,
Though greater far, is innocent.

Dull sublunary lovers’ love
—Whose soul is sense—cannot admit
Of absence, ’cause it doth remove
The thing which elemented it.

But we by a love so much refined,
That ourselves know not what it is,
Inter-assurèd of the mind,
Care less, eyes, lips and hands to miss.

Our two souls therefore, which are one,
Though I must go, endure not yet
A breach, but an expansion,
Like gold to aery thinness beat.

If they be two, they are two so
As stiff twin compasses are two ;
Thy soul, the fix’d foot, makes no show
To move, but doth, if th’ other do.

And though it in the centre sit,
Yet, when the other far doth roam,
It leans, and hearkens after it,
And grows erect, as that comes home.

Such wilt thou be to me, who must,
Like th’ other foot, obliquely run ;
Thy firmness makes my circle just,
And makes me end where I begun.

Now reread the poem, but this time give it emotion. It makes all the difference in the world. Words themselves are basically worthless, but words with emotion and feeling are indeed very powerful.

* Just on a side note, I absolutely love this poem, hence I used it.

Justin Yost is a full-time Software Engineer and a part time educator. A graduate of Texas Tech University with a bachelor's degree in computer science, Justin relishes programming and learning more about anything and everything. When not working, Justin occasionally gives talks at the local PHP Meetup. In his free time, Justin enjoys backpacking and reading science fiction books.

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2 comments on “Do Words Actually Matter?
  1. jtyost2 says:

    Once again the words don't matter it's the purpose behind them that really matters.

  2. jtyost2 says:

    Once again the words don't matter it's the purpose behind them that really matters.

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