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#147: What Do Words Mean?

Monday, November 23, 2009

If you've been a regular reader of these messages, you know how, as a writer, I often find words hilarious.

I read in a mystery story this week of a woman who loaded a shotgun with "trembling fingers." Personally, I would have used ammunition. :)

Then there was the headline in the local newspaper that did not use the word "county" after Orange: Orange Man Found Guilty Of Illegally Selling Arms." Does this mean any other color man COULD legally sell his arms? Or that it's legal to sell any body parts other than arms?

I heard someone today tell a person who had helped him, "You've been more than helpful." How can that be? You're helpful or you're not. So how helpful is "more than" helpful? Got me.

I'm sure you've heard someone say, "Each and every..." If you're referring to everything, doesn't that automatically include each individual thing?

Ask someone how they're feeling and they reply, "Pretty good." Does that mean they feel almost good but not quite good, just "pretty" good?

A guy said he bought a new car. His buddy asked him if it was a "brand new' car. Is "brand new" somehow newer than new? Got me again.

Yes, I'm having fun with some of the things we write and say but the underlying point is that our words can mean something different than what we intend.

And in those instances what we say can have a lasting negative effect. As, for example, when we tell a child who has dropped a plate or glass, "You're always dropping things." Is that true? They're "always" dropping things? I don't think so.

But you get the idea. Words can lead to funny headlines and conversations but, to reinforce yesterday's message, we need to be careful that we use them for building up ourselves and others.

Don't you agree?
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