The Language Is Everything

16 Aug

Words are everything. They are our most important tool in communicating with others and how we learn language and learn how to use language will have much to do with our success and our failures in life. The beauty of words is that they can have so many varied and different meanings depending on where and how we use them. However, what makes words beautiful in one person’s mind can also make them ugly and frustrating in another. How are we supposed to know what a person means unless they are exact and precise in what they have to say? One man’s definition could lead to another man’s doubt. Take for example the Declaration of Independence; a document that although forthright in its declarations can reveal upon closer scrutiny that when words are chosen carefully enough, meanings that seem straight forward and clear can still be open to further and even contradictory interpretations.

“All men are created equal.” That seems simple enough doesn’t it?

All: Everyone. Men: Male. Created: Made. Equal: Same.

So what they were so eloquently saying was, every male is made the same.

They could just as well have written “All people are equal.” Not very poetic but definitely more precise and certainly leaving nothing to argue about, but they didn’t did they?

By using the word men they were excluding half of America’s population, namely the women! By using the action verb created instead of a verb of being like is or are they were implying that after someone does the creating, we can still make you a slave, or ignore you altogether, like the Native Americans and African Americans, thereby leaving out another 20+ percent of the continents population. In all honesty, once you’ve added “men are created” to the sentence then words like all and equal are useless modifiers.

It took me a long while before it occurred to me that two of my favorite founding fathers from history, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, owned people. No matter what their thoughts were about freedom and the rights of people, they never let it get in the way of business. They truly were the first trickle down theorists weren’t they? If American slaves would only join the revolution and fight along side the colony’s white revolutionaries there would be freedom for all upon victory. First freedom from the tyranny of the British king would come to white Americans who would then eventually see to it that freedom from the tyranny of white American slaveholders would eventually trickle down to the lesser American’s… like slaves. And it only took 4 score and 7 years (and a civil war) for the trickle to make it all the way down.

So we need to stress in our public schools and to our public school students that not only is learning to read and write important but also that the study of words and their various meanings and usages are equally important if not more so. Students must be admonished to always remember to use them carefully and remember that others may be using them carefully too. And above all, like our founding fathers, have some fun with them because not only is language important, language is everything. Now go read the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States (I’ll bet you never have really read them before) and see if you can figure out what our founding fathers were trying to tell us.

And while you are at it how about starting a little notebook for yourself right now? Jot down all of the words in this book that you do not understand or maybe have never heard before and then look them up in a dictionary and write down their definitions. If you don’t want to go to all of the trouble of getting your own notebook (makes you feel like a student again, huh?) then just copy the words and definitions down on the blank pages at the end of this book. Darn! Now you have to go get a pencil…and then try not to lose it! See the great difficulties that our young students face in school? But if you do it you WILL learn something and gain some Knowledge in the doing…and Knowledge IS power, especially word knowledge. The more vocabulary you learn, the more you will understand what people are saying. Increasing your vocabulary is almost like learning a foreign language. In fact for many of my students over the years studying a foreign language in school was easier for them than studying English! Go figure!

Mr. Picone’s recommended Collection of

Big Ass Words for College

In any language, words are important. No matter what language you speak, increasing your vocabulary within that language will increase your intelligence, your knowledge and your ability to communicate. Building a large vocabulary is like acquiring a large circle of friends. The more people you know the more opportunities you have to make connections in life that will enhance your ability to influence others and for others to influence you. It works the same with words. As more and more words become available to you, your ability to access knowledge will increase as will your ability to understand what others have already learned and have written down for you to read and absorb. And you’ll look sound and actually be smarter!

One day in class my students were copying the weekly vocabulary list into their notebooks when a student sighed and remarked, “Man, these are some big-ass words!”

So here is your opportunity to begin your own personal dictionary of big-ass words for your own enjoyment, enrichment and edification. This is the fundamental lesson about education. It’s all about the student! If you want to learn you will learn. Teachers are facilitators who tell you the information you need to know or who can show you where to find it and who can help you to process it and find meaning in it but they can’t remember it for you and they can’t pay attention for you and they can’t listen for you. Education is all about being a good STUDENT.

So…If you are not familiar with a word that then write it down and look for its definition. (No need to go crazy, usually a single word synonym will do) Do whatever it takes to help you understand the word’s meaning and be able to make it one of your new big-assed best friends. If making new friends is not your thing, well then, just keep on reading…but just in case, look at it this way; What if you don’t like what I have to say? If you’re going to take the time to read this book then why not come out at the end smarter than you were when you started?


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