Words? What do they mean? Do they mean the same for you and me?

Words? What do they mean? Do they mean the same for you and me?


We are all artists. We paint with words. But is my blue your red?

We start as babies with the spoken word and learn the rudiments of language.

As children we learn the letters and conventions of grammar, we memorise the various punctuation and put them together into the patterns that communicate.

Each word is a symbol. It is no more than an abstract idea.

We each live in our own personal universe and have to hope that the contents of that universe, and consequently the symbols we apply to that content, bear resemblance to the feelings, moods, colours and forms that reside in the universes of everyone else.

How can we be sure?

When I talk of sadness it is of a mood within myself. I must assume you attach the same emotion to that word. Every sadness is different. We apply our empathy.

English is a good language to have as it is such a mongrel of a language. We have purloined words from every culture round the globe and brought them into play. It is rich with great variety. There are many different words for the same thing. When I write I am able to choose the word with the correct nuance and intonation. It gives me scope and choice.

By combining these symbols and arranging them I am able to describe the full gamut of my universe. I am able to combine the symbols as one would combine colours from a pallet, to create hues of emotion, description and imagination. They communicate and so must mean that our universes (created by the range of our senses and operations of our brain) are similar. When I speak of red you can picture that in your head.

That is remarkable.

Yet I must always remember that symbols are not the real thing; they are not the experience. Our communication must, at best, be partial. The world’s we see and the minds we inhabit are unique. We are all so much more that the words we use.

But through writing, using these symbols, we not only see ourselves more vividly but also glimpse the truths of others like us.

Communication is good. Let us hope that we will always share our worlds. You are always welcome in mine!