Senators Clinton and Obama are having a little difference on the power of words. The conventional wisdom is that Obama is a master of words and Clinton claims words are not enough. They are both right, I think. Words can inspire but they usually need to be backed up by action.
This morning in the student union Emily, me, and another member of the writing class were discussing politics. But we soon got off on words. The other guy, a senior from New York City, is taking a class on the History of the English Language. He said that most of the words we consider "dirty" today have a long history in English going back to Angle-Saxon times. I did not know that. Having been in only 4 states, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Kansas, I thought all "dirty" words came from toughs in New York, or someplace back East. Of course, I didn't say that out loud because I think the other guy likes Emily, like I do. So I hope she prefers the well built guy from the tiny town over the smooth, smart, sleek guy from New York. Incidentally some people from my tiny town called catholics "fish eaters." When I go back to my little town I had better be prepared.
But back to words. In addition to the "dirty" words there are words that are used in different ways. I think some words are illegal to use against other people like the N word. I'm not sure it should be a crime but it should not be used. Other words called ex.....(I don't know the exact definition) are used when you make a mistake and hit your hand hard with a hammer. You don't say "Aw,shucks". Other words are becomming unacceptable. Meg, Jack and Alice's daughter, does not like her kids to say a person is "fat." That is in bad taste, Meg believes. (Don't tell her, but they still use that word).
Sometimes we use words when we know they are not the right words. For example, when you look at a picture of a friend's kids you always say "how cute" even though they may look like another species. When Jack, Meg's son, makes a really bad play in baseball the parents yell "good try" when if he had really had his head in the game the other team would not have scored 3 runs. Or when little Jack hits a wrong note on the piano, big Jack says "good, but you missed a note or two." And I hope the very smart kids in my highschool who called me a "dumb jock" were just using words in a different way.
So, I agree with Obama at least on this point. Words are very important because they point something out but also tell what the speaker may be thinking. Now I don't control the words that are used around the house where I live. But if I had the power I would like to misuse three words. I would like "dad" to mean Jack, "mom" to mean Alice, and I would very much like "son" to mean me. The words would not be correct, but maybe someday they will be used that way and it would mean a whole lot to me.