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Sometimes Just One Word Changes Everything

Updated on November 25, 2010

Every Word Counts

The English language is different from all other languages in that it first describes what it is and then tells you what we are talking about. All other languages tells you what we are talking about before describing it. This is easily demonstrated in the Spanish vs. English for the white house, and in Spanish it is the house white, la casa blanca.

The English language also gives us many many examples of words that can be used in different parts of speech, for example and the easiest example is everyone's favorite cuss word, the f word. Without using it and to not offend anyone, I will give very brief examples of this, which would be -- that f--ing dog, that dog is f--ing, or just what a f--er.

I actually got a legal case dismissed because it was determined that a curse is not technically considered to be a threat. The words I used were just like the old time curse that you read about in legends, like "may your dog never be rid of his fleas," and " may all your camels be forever sterile".

In these instances because of the use of one word, "may" it was decided that no direct threat was made, and that if anything happened, it was indeed only because the receiver of the "curse" made it happen themselves, or it only happened in their own mind. It took several minutes of discussion to come up with this decision, which was appearant to me right off the bat, and kind of made me laugh.

There are also some very confusing usages of words, that were pointed out to me by my students when I was teaching adult Spanish speaking people to read in their own language. For example the word "hot" in English is interpreted about five different ways in the Spanish language, which confused a lot of people, for how could they know what was meant, except by the surrounding words. We have a hot day, talking about weather, a hot bowl of soup, meaning the temperature of an object, a hot chili pepper, meaning a spicy hot, and a hot woman, meaning that she is good looking. In Spanish these all are different words, thereby telling the reader immediately what the meaning is. This is why English is one of the most difficult languages to learn.

Besides the words that sound the same but mean different things, there are the words that are spelled the same but are pronounced differently, like though, cough, tough, brought, which all have the ough spelling but are pronounced very differently. The only other language that comes close in difficulty to English is Chinese, and that is only because of the differences between usage of an alphabet and symbols that have meanings with no phonetics involved.

One last example of why English is a language that does not abide by any normal language rules are the slang's that we have evolved into meanings that are not even understood by many of our own English speaking people. This shown by example can be the word "bad", which can mean bad, as in not good, but the young folks have turned it into the opposite, and with more than just this one word, as in that is a bad bike. In this instance the speaker means to portray that he likes the bike. Here are several words that have evolved into two and very opposite meanings by our youngsters--cool, bitchin, bad, awesome, and so on.

So, in ending this all I can advise is this, when you are putting something into writing, make sure that you have used the right words, make sure there are not double meanings, be sure that you have it in the right part of speech, and perhaps even go on to describe what you mean so nobody is confused. If you read that it is a bad ass hot chick, who is so cool many guys are hot after her, read it twice perhaps.


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    warm whispers 7 years ago


  • tnderhrt23 profile image

    tnderhrt23 7 years ago

    Very interesting, thought-provoking, informative hub! I love language and words, for their weight and power are great keys to the human heart. Thank you!