Words Matter

I would hurl words into this darkness and wait for an echo, and if an echo
sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to
fight, to create a sense of hunger for life that gnaws in us all.

~Richard Wright, American Hunger, 1977

Monday was National Grammar Day! Not only was it a day of great grammatical celebration, but also the ONLY date that is an actual complete sentence within itself. March forth on March 4th, so to speak. This great day is, according to the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar (SPOGG), “for people who crave good, clean English – sentences cast well and punctuated correctly. It’s about clarity. And who knows how many of the world’s huge problems would be solved if we had a little more of that?”

I admit that I am a bit of a word snob. I appreciate the written and verbal complexities of our great language, and I have great respect for the correct usage of them. And while I don’t know how many of the world’s problems are going to be solved through a perfect sentence…NOW I diverge.

If you are reading this on the ICMI blog, you will continue on with a tale of customer service. If you continue here, you get a more personal story. Words have played an important and sometimes monumental part of my life, from childhood to present day. Some of my fondest recollections are found within the stacks of the old and great Appleton Public Library. Some of my greatest memories are those that happened to others in pages of books. My body has become a literal literary canvas and is now marked with scrolls and passages and wisdom of others able to craft sentences greater than I can dream. Regardless, when a great story must be told, the author and mechanism is simply irrelevant. And now, as I write this, I realize I have no story to tell; I have but a plea. Respect the word. Enjoy the word. Appreciate the power. What is said and what is written has a tail greater than most can appreciate. Once it is wound around you, it is not easily undone. Words can inexplicably bite and strangle, but they can also inspire, love, and lead. Words matter, and not just on National Grammar Day.


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