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Power of Language - Nicolette Ash

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Power of Language - Nicolette Ash

Post by Orchidee on Thu Apr 10, 2008 1:20 pm

This is an essay of Nicolette Ash, our lovely tutor, my adorable friend Wink Nic, I hope you don't mind I posted it here. Your paper is sooooo great. I'm totally in love with it. To be honest, I'm kindda envious of your writing skill Embarassed

Nicolette Ash
AP Language and Composition
Mrs. Ritter
November 2007

Power of Language

We allow words to rush through our ears and bubble within our bodies, churning our emotions and creating new currents in our thinking patterns. Like rain drops falling to a puddle, different words create different feelings that ripple throughout our lives and affect our actions and the people around us. In every language, a word is like a wave; it could create a small bump in our lives or become a huge tidal wave that comes crashing down upon us, leaving no time to run away or go to higher ground. The moment a word is heard, read, sung, or thought of, our brain processes the message and we feel a feeling—a human emotion—that contributes to our future actions and affects the way we think. Due to the fact the there is more than one language in the world, languages may be a barrier between the understanding and acceptance of every known culture. We tend to isolate ourselves and secretly believe that we speak a superior language, forgetting that the woman speaking that foreign language may be just as intelligent, if not more intelligent than ourselves. However, language may be less like a barrier and more like a bridge over troubled water; a single word in every language provokes a universal thought, image, action (or lack thereof), and feeling. Those thoughts, images, actions, and feelings produced by every word known to the world become the central dogma to each race and ultimately, to mankind. Language itself is an ocean of letters, words, and sounds; each different language is another river branching off into a different part of the world. Its tributaries stretch its fingers all the way into the inland portions of every single continent and control the way we think, act, and feel. Some say thought creates, but it is in fact the word that is mentioned that produces the feeling which leads to an action. Words have power. Language has power. Through the use of rhetoric devices, we manipulate the feelings intended to be produced by those listening and reading, and furthermore create our own destinies through the power of our language.

Waves create ripples throughout the vast oceans that shape our lives. The bigger the wave, the farther the ripple travels; the smaller the wave, the less distance it covers and the less of an impact it has on our lives. In the poem “The Word” by Pablo Neurda, words are depicted as the blood that runs through our very veins. Words, delivered from what ever maternal source they may come from, affect the way we live. Personified as a living storm rather than a wave, Neurda writes:

“Later on, meaning fills the word./It stayed pregnant and was filled with lives,/everything was births and sounds:/affirmation, clarity, strength,/negation, destruction, death:/the name took on all the powers/and combined existence with essence/in its electric beauty.”

All of the ideas and feelings words produce contribute to the aftermath of the wave; spoken words, words that are thought, and words that are sung, all create a certain size wave that falls down according to the actual words that were mentioned.

In the novel The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde, an entire community was affected by the single novel, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. As the words changed and the plot was skewed, the public became outraged and revolted. Literature and political pieces have greatly affected society as a whole. The words chosen to create a certain image and/or describe a certain idea need to be carefully selected; just as a word follows with a consequence, a wave follows a gush of water.

Within each culture, a language is born, birthed by the sounds formed by our ancestors. For many, only one language is understood in a lifetime, forcing them to isolate themselves with those of a similar language. This isolation is what creates the barrier between each culture within the world. Many assumptions and prejudices are made based on the languages that people speak. For instance, in a selection by Amy Tan called “Mother Tongue”, people are perceived as less intelligent when they attempt to speak a language other than their own. Tan’s mother worked very hard to learn English, but was only able to produce a “broken English,” causing many people to judge her as an uneducated and low-class woman. However, Tan’s mother, native to the Chinese language, submerged herself in English magazines, economic reports, and even listened to the English radio in hopes of becoming better at speaking in English. Despite her many attempts, her English co-workers and bosses continued looked down on her. To Amy Tan, “her language, as I hear it, is vivid, direct, and full of observation and imagery” (Tan 273). Tan, an “English master” herself, was able to recognize the tone and mood of her mother by the emotions that stood behind her words.

Meena Alexander in “Fault Lines” had a bit of a problem too, as she always felt that she was a dismantled jigsaw puzzle. Coming from so many different backgrounds, she never really felt as though she had a true identity. Always referring to herself as broken and fragile, she was disappointed with her lifestyle and wanted to belong to something that she could call “pure”. Alexander limited herself rather than bracing her unique diversity. She based her “broken” life on fragmented pieces of languages rather than looking past a word or an image and seeking its real root. If people would step outside of an actual word or image and search for its meaning as Tan was able to do with her mother, there would be much more of an understanding amongst the different races and cultures in the world. Language could continue to divide us, or we could look beyond words and images and search for their meanings, just as Alice Walker did in her essay, “In Search of Our Mothers’ Garden.”

Thought creates. If it can be thought, it can be created. But what really produces a thought than words themselves? Most thoughts are produced as a result of a said word—or a thought up word/idea…but then we could end up getting ourselves tied up in the whole “what came first?” bit, “the chicken, or the egg?”—and resort into some deep metacognition that the not even the most brilliant psych professor could wrap their mind around). Once a word is understood by the mind, or rather, the intended meaning of the word is interpreted, a chemical signal is set off in our brain and produces one of the human emotions. The emotion felt creates a feeling which controls the actions that follows—along with personal morals and a few other contributions—but to think that this process could all be set off by a string of words in any language, or even one single word itself! is amazing. The power that the word has is not only what creates life in the world, but has the biggest role in the outcome of our destinies. People must choose their words correctly, as their effect is greater than what anyone could ever expect.

In the play Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw, the effect that proper English language had on a person’s social status was equivalent to the amount of money they have in their bank accounts that day. The main character Eliza is a poor girl who learns how to speak proper English in hopes of giving her more opportunities to make money and not to be judged based on her social class. Initially, her ridiculous pronunciation of words distorted their meanings and caused people to think lowly of her. Her chosen words affected her social status, and as absurd as that may seem, it continues to happen today. As she became increasingly better at her phonetics, not only did her reputation change for the better, but she was finally given an identity and a voice of her own. She now had the power to control her future directly, instead of relying on others to help her along the way.

Nancy Mairs in “I Am a Cripple” is another prime example how words effect our destinies. Born with a physical disability at birth, Mairs was forced to live a life that not many would choose. In the world that we live in today, many euphemisms are used to “protect” minorities and precious self esteems. Mairs mocked political correctness and objectively stated that she is a cripple, not handicapped, not disabled, but a cripple. Instead of living this weak life that had to be constantly protected by a literary trope, she chose to be strong and to just be herself.

Rhetoric devices have been used since mankind was able to form a legitimate sentence. Used to create images to aid an intended meanings better, rhetoric devices give new flavor to the way we present ourselves and consequently, affect our own futures. Even great Roman poets, like Catullus himself, used metaphors and diminutives to demonstrate how he felt. Catullus wrote very emotional poetry as each verse displayed exactly how he felt. If he were frustrated with another “bad” poet, for instance, Suffenus, Catullus would use figurative language and alliteration to mock Suffenus’s writings and compare them to garbage. His creative use of tropes shaped the way he was perceived by the public which in return unfolded his future; a very emotional and opinionated poet that would live on in history for his creative use of words and tropes!

It is interesting how the word, “word” seems rather dull itself; a combination of four letters to represent the most powerful tool in human life—the very object that shapes our own destinies. Perhaps we use just a simple word to describe this “tool” because we can never really truly express what we are feeling, no matter how hard we may try. Just as man could not develop a single language to express the accumulation of human feelings felt in a lifetime, the English language could not designate a more elaborate word to describe just that. People come and go, words are said and heard. Let us dip ourselves back into the ocean of vowels and consonants that developed the words that are used today. Let us swim down those rivers and plunge into the depths of a word and swim past its surface; let us discover what lies beneath it all and what truly controls the lives we live each and every day: the power of language.

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Post by TheEleventhYear on Fri Apr 11, 2008 8:20 am

Hey! That's my essay :D Thank you for posting it darling, I really appreciate it. I'm glad you like it...but I want to see your essays up here soon! You are such a BRILLIANT writer/translator yourself!!!

<3 Nicolette


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Re: Power of Language - Nicolette Ash

Post by HQT on Sun Apr 13, 2008 5:29 pm

I just scanned through the essay, not read thoroughly but I think it such a nice essay Mad.

I always admire people who can write those beautiful, graceful literary things. It's always the most terrible thing to do for me. And I'm really bad at literature as well :">.

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Re: Power of Language - Nicolette Ash

Post by trangtm on Wed Apr 16, 2008 1:28 pm

Such a great essay! I like the first part best. A lot of simile makes it so beautiful!

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Re: Power of Language - Nicolette Ash

Post by clbt on Tue Apr 29, 2008 10:19 am

Very beautifully written! I can definitely see the passion burning.
Hope we will see more Smile


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Re: Power of Language - Nicolette Ash

Post by Jennie Tran on Sun Jun 01, 2008 11:14 pm

it's very interested....
i really love it...oh man...i wish i could have a good writting skil like Nic and you guys... >.<
i always have troubles in my writting lab class....
Jennie Tran

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Re: Power of Language - Nicolette Ash

Post by icandoit on Wed Dec 17, 2008 3:55 pm

i LOVE THIS ESSAY . Crying or Very sad i WISH i could write like that. My essays are killing me.


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Re: Power of Language - Nicolette Ash

Post by tuongvan92 on Thu Dec 18, 2008 9:21 pm

it's beautiful. my writing skill is really bad Crying or Very sad


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