The Power of Words
According to the Bible: In the beginning was the word and everything that came after that was the result of that word. Words can hurt, words heal, words create, words destroy, words uplift as well as deflate our egos. If we were standing in front of a firing squad, the last word you would hear is; "Fire".
I am in the words business. I read them. speak them. and write them. I have even been known to used non-verbal communication that eventually gets translated into words.
As an avid reader consuming words from a variety of sources, I confess that my favorite magazine is "The New Criterion." Each month, I am offered new insights on our culture written by very clever writers. My favorite article this month (May, 2021) is "The Cost of Words" by John Steele Gordon. Here are some of his observations:
Human beings are communicative species because we are profoundly a social one, and individuals of all species communicate with their fellows.
Ravens, a few species of ants, and honey bees can communicate location and distance of newly discovered food sources. But not even animals as cleaver as ravens have anything resembling speech with its infinite ability to precisely convey information.
Most linguists believe that it (speech) evolved by at least 50,000 years ago.
The invention of writing marks the division between prehistory and history. The oldest forms date to the fourth millennium B.C., with Egyptian's hieroglyphs and Mesopotamian cuneiform...Both systems used logograms, symbols that stand for words.
While (the Greek) alphabet was a tremendous improvement, storing information remained very expensive, for one needed not only writing but also a means of storing information...the people of Mesopotamia used clay tablets, which when baked, made a durable, if cumbersome, means of storing information.
The Egyptians used a plant called papyrus...but these scrolls were inconvenient in that only way to get to a particular section was to unroll it and then unroll it to that section and then re-roll it...Also used was parchment made from animal skins...The prepared skins were rolled, cut, and bound together on one side forming a codex, or what we would call a book.
Paper was invented in China during the Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 .AD)...it was far cheaper than parchment, and its use spread westward until it reached Europe in the 11th century...and was in common use by 1400.
In the mid 15th century, Johannes Guttenberg brought paper, movable type... and the printing press together to produce the most earth changing invention since writing itself.
Newspapers had been developed in the 17th century; they were expensive because of the limited press runs possible. (Coffee houses evolved as places where you could read a newspaper).
To newspapers could be added magazines and books, which also exploded in popularity, thanks to the great drop in printing costs.
True digital computing had reached practicality in 1945, with the electronic numerical integrator and computer (ENIAC).
The micro pressor, introduced commercially in 1972, is essentially a computer on a silicon chip. Today, one hardly larger than a postage stamp can have more than four billion transistors embedded in it. That's why now every high school student carries around his backpack, computing power that the pentagon couldn't have afforded in the 1950's.
Good reading and happy trails to you. Go ahead. Use your words!