We’ve all heard the line by William Shakespeare. But is it true?
To market, to market…
Marketers would certainly disagree with the bard. Branding – the art of capturing a unique identity through words and images – is highly dependent upon words. Not only their direct meanings, but their more sensory subtleties, emotions and associations particular to a target audience and cultural context.
“Amazon” for example, is a terrific name. It’s easy to pronounce, suggests power and expansiveness, and has a hint of human presence.
More advantages? A touch of the words “maze” and “amaze” may hit the subconscious palate, both of which are apt: searching out hard-to-find books can be a daunting maze indeed, and the depth and breadth of an online bookstore should amaze.
It was a smart (and fortuitous) word choice, if for no other reason than it suggests big. Very big, which has allowed Amazon to grow its offering far beyond books, without changing its name.
Who wants a $10 word over breakfast, if “pass the milk please” will do? On the other hand, if you want to argue over the effectiveness of Emile Zola’s handling of generational abuse and social consciousness, you may be expecting a different vocabulary.
In the schoolyard, you have one way of talking. Looking for a hook-up at the local bar, quite another. Meeting the in-laws? You’re more worried about your deodorant…
If four-letter words offend you, I doubt you’ll be hanging with me. I don’t delete my expletives (without cause), and I use my curse-words liberally, in two languages. However, there are expressions – and specific terms – that drive me up a fucking tree. Some are religious, some are (non)grammatical, and epithets are unacceptable.
We seek out friends, colleagues, and partners with common attitudes and energy, values and humor, and subconsciously – those who share our style – if not appreciation for – communication. Case in point, the expression: “We don’t speak the same language,” which indicates areas of disagreement – or lack of mutual understanding.We judge through use of language, and we reveal a tremendous amount in the way we express ourselves verbally.
Naturally, a writer is a hard case. Words take on greater importance because they’re our stock and trade. But it’s more than that; it’s personal, a love-hate relationship and a stormy one as we set words on pedestals, knock them down, wrestle them to the ground, then frolic with them, bathe in them, release them to run wild, then lose ourselves in the anguished chase for another armed only with a flimsy butterfly net, hoping to capture just the right one, pin it to the page, and flit off in the quest for another.
L words – and more
In the romance department, words are HUGE. And not just in obvious ways. You may be trying to discern the hidden meaning between your new honey’s use of I adore you or I’m crazy about you even as you wait for the elusive “L” word. But it’s far more than that. There’s a reason that Cyrano de Bergerac is called upon to woo the fair Roxanne. The man could write one helluva love letter.
I once fell for a gentleman through his missives – years ago. He wrote with confidence, delicacy, wit, and mystery. I was beguiled. Our epistolary relationship was sexually scintillating and enormously satisfying. (Talk about safe sex…)
I’m a word woman. Big dictionary? I’m “putti” in his hands.
The flip side? I’ve been turned off (or at least, the volume turned down) by lack of exquisite word-fare, or the use of a term that touches a nerve.
My desperate future
How can a potential paramour have any inkling of which words will serve, and which will repel?
He can’t. Any more than any two people can know a hundred other things that will attract or deter. Hence, the drama (or dilemma) may continue.
The fact is: I’m one part Oxford English Dictionary, one part Urban Dictionary, and one part Petit Larrousse or Collins Robert, all of which takes precedence over… dare I admit it… my shoes.
Perhaps it’s kismet; I may have already banished myself to another time and place, to poetic prose, to dictionaries, to snarky snippets, and thus – to online love affairs with those I never see or meet, but who demonstrate their largesse and elicit my longing through the wicked word or lofty lexicon. A real man who could engage me with his mind and tongue in so delightful a fashion? Naturally, he would be welcome.
As for my love of words?
A rose by any other name? Nay…
I turn to Popeye, inspired by Gilbert and Sullivan: I am what I am.