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Inspiration - Motivation

Words Create Worlds – Why Words are Important?

Words create worlds.  What do you think of this?

Do you think that the words you choose in your everyday life are there just to describe the world you live in and your emotions and to help you communicate with others?

Well, at least this is what I thought about words and language until a few years ago. While studying literature theories and linguistics I first read about structuralism.

Structuralism according to Britannica is “one of several schools of 20th-century linguistics committed to the structuralist principle that a language is a self-contained relational structure, the elements of which derive their existence and their value from their distribution and oppositions in texts or discourse”.

One of the main representatives of the structuralism theory, Ferdinand de Saussure, supports among other things that our language does not simply record the world we live in but actually constructs it. He says that the meaning which is given to any object or idea is attributed to the human mind. According to his theory, this meaning is constructed from and expressed through the language and it is not in any way included inside the object or the idea.

cotton sack with apricots near books on table
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If you take a few minutes to process the above thoughts you will understand what I mean when I say that your words create your world. I don’t know about you but to me, it definitely changed my attitude towards language and words, written and spoken.

Science and Convention

“The beginning of wisdom is the definition of terms.”

Socrates

When it comes to sciences, the definition of terms comes in a way that offers clarity and understanding. It couldn’t happen otherwise. No progress would ever be possible if they weren’t defined this way.

The same stands to a point for the terms used to describe our everyday life. I say to some point because even the most obvious and simple terms used could be the subject of a question.

pumpkins and blooming flowers in glass vase on table - words create worlds
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

Dr. Sebastien Christian in his TedX talk uses as an example the definition of a table. One might say that a table is a surface on which we place things. Another would add that it has four legs, and could be of several shapes and heights. But on a table, I might also sit or lie. Would that make it a chair or a bed? There are also tables with three, two, one, and zero legs. However, when we most think of a table we all have an idea about it. And this word “table” offers us some kind of common understanding about what a table is.

Related: Try to fit in this World? Why People Persistently Do So?

How Words Create Worlds

So, more or less about the everyday simple things, it is clear what something means. But what happens when we talk to other people or to ourselves about our ideas, our beliefs, and things we might think or want of them? Is our language able to communicate in clarity all those things to others?

The language itself and words of course can communicate everything no matter how complex or simple that is. But how would anyone be able to use the right words in any case or whether how anyone would perceive these words that is another issue.

funny dog with glasses and book
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One issue is that it definitely depends on the depth of the knowledge of the language each person has. But not only that, previous experiences and personal communication codes that somebody uses could fall under a totally different interpretation from one person to another.

“The limits of my language means the limits of my world.”

Ludwig Wittgenstein

Nicklas Balboa and Richard D. Glaser in their article “Words Create Worlds -How love, consciousness and imagination play key roles in our evolution” state that “One of the most advanced cognitive functions we have is our ability to create, understand and share language. Words, despite their objective Webster definitions, have unique meanings to those that perceive them”.

Related: Perception is Reality – 4 Tips to Help You Alter it

Conclusion on Words Create Worlds

It is important for all us humans to understand that whatever we experience in this world is the subject of our personal translation. There is not only one way that someone can perceive something. From another perspective, everything can be the subject of question and judgment.

The whole world we live we create it mostly inside our minds. The way we see this world we created is what defines the way we act and react, what we dream of, and how we perceive our reality.

“But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.”

George Orwell, 1984

Resources – Relative Articles

Peter Barry, Beginning Theory: An Introduction to literary and cultural theory, Manchester University Press, 2009

https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/social-sciences/structuralism

https://www.britannica.com/science/structuralism-linguistics

46 thoughts on “Words Create Worlds – Why Words are Important?”

    1. Definitely culture is important, i guess I somehow thought of it as previous experiences since the culture is something we grow up with. Thank you for commenting 🙂

  1. Language and words are so important, especially if you’re having a discussion about something sensitive to someone close. Fantastic points here!

  2. That is fascinating! Unspoken and unconscious words create our worlds, too, if they are in the form of limiting beliefs or perceptions. Also, this reminds me of the work I used to do with a client in my healing practice who was very good at remembering her dreams. I would ask her to define or describe the things that populated her dreams as if she were talking to an alien.

    1. Exactly Jeanine! unspoken and unconcious words are also powerful. Interesting experience the one you had with your client. I am glad you liked it. Thank you for commenting 🙂

  3. This was so interesting Eri! I was fascinated by the table example and how many different definitions there are for just one word.

    1. The world of words, philosophy and psychology are fascinating to me Vourneen. I am glad you found it interesting. Thank you for commenting!

  4. I’ve never heard of Structuralism before but it makes a LOT of sense and I love the idea that our words and language can construct our world. Words are so powerful, I’ve always known that and I think that’s why I’ve always been such a keen reader and writer.

    1. Writers and readers are perfectly aware of the fact that words create worlds in so many different ways Jenny. Thank you for commenting 🙂

  5. This is very true. Best observed when you compare languages. I studied English and German, for example. It’s funny how your perspective on certain things changes depending on the language you speak aka the way you use words. Very insightful!

    1. Very good point this Wanda! My main language is Greek and there are some thing I feel I cannot communicate them the way I want to always in English. Bad thing but I think in Greek and try to translate in English. Thank you for commenting 🙂

  6. Great post. I love the idea that words are so powerful and I totally agree with you. It’s also important to understand we all bring our own viewpoints and look at life through our filter.

  7. Words pay such a huge part of my life – this post has given me much to ponder on. Merci from France.

  8. I’d definitely agree with Ludwig Wittgenstein, that “the limits of my language means the limits of my world”. My limited ability with language due to my dyslexia has shaped everything I’ve ever done, having a negative impact on my life and abilities across the board.

    I would love to see the theories behind this applied to how populist leaders manipulate people with their words and how words like ‘alternarive facts’ have shaped people’s view of the world

  9. Very good post regarding words and language interpretations. You made some great points. Our words definitely impact us and those around us. Thank you for sharing. ☺️

    Pastor Natalie
    Letstakeamoment.com

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