There are words that we don’t like because they remind us of people we don’t like. It happens to me with the expression “it’s amazing.”
I hear “what happened” and I see the image of that person saying it. Grrrr. I even hear his voice inside my head. Grrrr. Those two words are enough to feel the same discomfort that this person causes me. Grrrr.
That’s why I ask my trusted friends: “Don’t say that expression, for God’s sake. The demons take me away.” It’s like Proust’s cupcake but bad.
Marcel Proust was transported by a piece of cupcake dipped in tea to the old house of his childhood. The flavor of the bun made him “indifferent to the vicissitudes of life, its harmless disasters, its illusory brevity.” Savoring the cupcake filled him with love and “a precious essence.”
The opposite happens to me when I hear a word that I associate with someone that I don’t like. Instead of forgetting about the vicissitudes of life, I remember how slimy life is. And instead of filling me with love, it fills me with “I want to get out of here, yes.”
Words are as evocative as smells and tastes. There are words that give tenderness. There are words that make you laugh. And there are words that are disgusting. It also happens to me with “how cool”. It is a word that says a lot to a person that I don’t like. “Cool”. Grrrr.
And worst of all is the echo left by those words. It doesn’t matter who says it later. It doesn’t matter if that word is pronounced by someone you love. The word is already threadbare and scratchy, and you never want to hear it again.
It is very difficult to separate a word from the emotions it provokes. As if voice and emotion were hopelessly tied. It’s a kind of stimulus-response from Pavlov’s dog.
There are words that individual individuals dislike and there are words that a large part of society dislike. Here it happens, for example, with the word spinster. Grrrr.Spinster will be your father! We no longer allow a woman to be despised for not having a partner. That idea of a woman as a waste if she is not married has no meaning or place in today’s society. That’s why the word spinster it falls badly enough and disgusts even more.
The Italian pedagogue and journalist Gianni Rodari used to say that words produce sensations and feelings, shock waves! Just like a stone falls into a pond. In the Fantasy grammar He tells it like this: “A word, thrown into the mind by chance, produces surface and depth waves. It causes an infinite series of chain reactions, attracting in its fall sounds and images, analogies and memories, meanings and dreams, in a movement that interests experience and memory, fantasy and the unconscious “.
Rodari said that the mind does not receive a word and deciphers its meaning without further ado. The mind engages and “accepts or repels” it. The “link or censorship”.
A word is so powerful that it unearths emotions and memories. “It sinks into the past, makes submerged presences re-float.” And it can rescue “fields of memory that lay under the dust of time.”
We can also justify this theory of words that we like and do not like with the work of Ludwig Wittgenstein. The mathematician and linguist said that words are like the surface layer of deep waters. That layer is what resonates, but below are the emotions and feelings and what really moves us.
That emotion and those lived experiences are shaping our vocabulary. I say a lot corduroy because I love that word. Say corduroy and my head fills with memories of conversations with my nephew. But I never say “how cool”. I never say “what happened”. It’s that they choke me just thinking about them. Grrrr.
What a wonder this is about love and repudiation for words. All emotion. All passion. All hunch in each letter … and in each emoticon: