Springingtiger's Blog


Words

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I like to write, as you are probably aware. Frequently over the course of my one year challenge to blog every day, I have not been able to apply the amount of revision that I have felt some posts needed. The importance of carefully considered words was brought home to me the other day, several people thanked me for a poem I wrote which they had found useful during a sad time. Words have power to hurt and heal, just as they can help, a word uttered in anger and hate can do irreparable damage. Relationships can be destroyed with a cruel or ill considered comment. We only need to look at the tragic effects of internet bullying to see the power of words.

There was a time when words and writing were considered magical and then they were not as lightly used as they are today. Just as the Bible, talking of creation says, “In the beginning was the word” so Saivism considers all of creation to be formed of the sounds represented by the Sanskrit alphabet, understanding language is the key to understanding life itself. The magic of all cultures relies on the focused use of language.

As well as the words themselves power comes from the combinations and rhythms of the words. I believe poetry should be an integral part of every child’s education, language takes on a while new magic when words are presented with rhythm and rhyme, the writing of poetry brings with it a discipline in composition that extends to all one’s writing. I am a little disappointed that children are no longer taught grammar in school. I am aware that once we leave school we tend to leave formal grammar behind, however I believe it not only provides a foundation for our own writing and appreciation of others’ composition, but also an understanding of the structure of other languages. I was taught, at school, from “English Today” and owe a lifelong debt of gratitude to Ronald Ridout whose book showed me that grammar is fun, I used to love box analysis! I keep by my bed, for my amusement, an excellent text book which Neelam was given by her cousin Seema in Delhi. “High School English Grammar and Composition” by PC Wren and H Martin is, I believe, the reason why so many educated Indians speak and write better English than their British contempories. I don’t agree with Michael Gove’s drive to return education to the Victorian era, I believe education should be fun and that creativity and independent thought should be encouraged. I also believe that good English properly taught can be fun and promotes thought.

Words have power and we have a responsibility to use them carefully. Understanding etymology and the rules of grammar allow us, not only to use words more effectively and responsibly, but also, I believe, makes us less likely to inflict casual damage by sloppy usage.

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