No. 56


The English poet, letter writer and political figure, Lord Byron (1788-1824), has made this observation concerning words: "Words are things, and a small drop of ink, falling like dew on a thought, produces that which makes thousands, perhaps millions, think." When taken in this context, I believe we can see how very important it is to choose our words carefully, because words not only influence the quality of our thinking, they also enable us to express ourselves --- to communicate.
Thank you for spending a few moments of your time with me. I would like to begin by sharing some thoughts concerning the "right" words and how, if we are not careful, they can expose some of our misplaces values. Here is an example that will illuminate what I am saying. The story is told of a man who was a public speaker by profession. Using the right word, in the right place, with the right pronunciation, was a passion for him.
One day during a stroll by the river, he slipped off the bank and sank under the water. An elderly lady shouted, "He'll be drowned-ded! He'll be drowned-ded!" The public speaker came to the surface sputtering and coughing. He asked for no help and didn't reach for the rope thrown to him. Instead, he fixed his eyes and index finger on the lady and shouted, "Drowned, not drowned-ded! Drowned!" His thoughts were not on life, but the right word.
When it comes to using the right words, I'm limited in some respects and I tell people my vocabulary is kinda like the printer who said, "I ain't never made but one grammatical error since I come to work here. I seen it when I done it, so I taken it back." All kidding aside, the manner in which we communicate is very important as it relates to achieving success in today's times.
Our effectiveness in communicating with others is determined to a large degree by our vocabulary. It's been said that we should know big words but use little words if we are to communicate with the vast majority of the people around us. Along these lines, something that may cause you to think is the results of a survey that I came across some time ago. It's been determined that the average middle class person in our society uses less than 400 words, 80% of the time in his or her normal everyday conversations.
If you will think about it a moment, you'll be able to come up with many of these words, like: hope, happiness, security, money, work, love, family, time, sale, bargain, food, if, and, it, but, or and so forth. Now if you will continue on, I believe you will see that it takes a lot of these "regular use" words to reach 400. However, when it comes to successful communication this is tragic, because there are now over 700,000 words in the English language.
Another consideration here is what educators call our "reading level." When we read a story or an article that has one or more words that are not familiar to us, much of our comprehension or understanding can be lost. While we can certainly get by without a large vocabulary, and millions do, it does give those individuals who have a good vocabulary a great advantage in these days of rapidly changing technology.
In conclusion, when we take the time to improve our vocabulary so we can use the right words, we are taking a step in the right direction and this will pay handsome dividends in the months and years to come. Please consider these ten two letter words: If it is to be, it is up to me. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley rive, Conway, AR 72034.)