"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (St. John 1:1).
God gave man the power to invent and create words. By the use of words man is able to identify and classify all things in nature, and also to communicate thoughts and ideas.
Words have a long and varied history. The growth and development of words are interwoven around the customs, laws and traditions of the people who invented and created them.
It is possible that words had their inception with the Egyptians. The Hieroglyphics was the first method used to record characters, symbols and signs. This crude knowledge, through a combination of written symbols and also a combination of spoken sounds over a long period of time, created the Tree of Languages. (Indo-European--5000 to 6000 B.C.)
This Tree of Languages was composed of six original languages (1) Persian. (2) Greek. (3) Russian. (4) Teutonic, from which sprang English, Dutch, German and Scandinavian. (5) Latin, from which sprang Italian, French and Spanish. (6) Armenian.
From these six original languages and their offspring originated all the words in the English language.
With over five thousand years, and all these different languages from which to pick, the English language today has approximately five hundred thousand words. Everyone has an inviolate interest in all these words. A word becomes the property of anyone who uses it. A headful of words is better than a pocketful of money. Money is only a temporary convenience. Words are a permanent asset. Money is usually lost or spent. It is gone, but words once acquired are tools that may be used over and over again. The more you use them, the more potent they become. They do not wear out and will last forever.
According to the latest census report, there are about one hundred and forty million people in these United States. All these people are prospects for words. Words move and influence people to act. Science has found from experience that those who take the lead, and pick off the choice plums in business and social affairs, are those who have at their command a choice stock of words. A large stock of words gives a wide range of knowledge, and develops more tools with which to think.
A vocabulary is a stock of words used in a language, by a class or individual, or in any field of knowledge.
A vocabulary may be compared to a department store. A department store can do more business than any other store because it has a larger variety of merchandise.
A person with a large vocabulary can influence more people about more things than a person with a limited vocabulary.
Words are one of your best friends. Standing at attention, they are ready to go to work for you at a moment's notice.
"Attention, please!" was the greatest command among the armed forces. Two words--but what power! "Attention, please!" "Words" are the command in this chapter.
Is there a practical and interesting way to increase your word power? Interest in words is stimulated by studying their derivations, meaning, and also their application. As a matter of interest, let us observe the history and origin of a few words.
"Daisy" (flower) came from two old English words meaning "day's eye." The flower opened at dawn as if it were the eye of the day.
"Universe" comes from two Latin words, "unus," meaning "one," and "vertere" meaning "turn." "Universe" means that which is turned into one, combined into one whole. That which functions under one Law.
"Sandwich" (two slices of bread with meat, cheese, jelly or the like, between them). In the year 1740 John Montagu, the Fourth Earl of Sandwich, was so busy at the gambling table he did not have time to stop for his meals. He ate his meat between slices of bread, thus the name sandwich.
"Town" (any collection of houses), comes from the Anglo-Saxon word "tun," which meant an enclosed place.
"Hieroglyphic" comes from two Greek words, "hieros," which means "sacred," and "glyphein," which means "to carve." Hieroglyphic means " a sacred carve."
"Democracy" (American form of government), comes from two Greek words. "Demos" means people and "kratos" means "to rule." Therefore, democracy means "people rule."
"Confidence" (trust), comes from the Latin word "con," meaning "to," and "fidere," "to trust." To trust, to have faith.
"Alert" (on the watch), comes from the French term "alerte," "on the look out" or the "watch tower."
"Infant" comes from two Latin words, "in," which means "not," and "fari," "to speak." "Infant" means "one who cannot speak."
"Alphabet" (the letters or characters used in writing a language) has been formed from the first two letters of the Greek alphabet. "Alpha," meaning "A" and "Beta," meaning "B." Thus the A, B, C.
"Cereal" (a grain prepared for use as human food). This word comes from the Latin word "ceres." Ceres was the name of the Goddess of Grain.
"Etymology" (true knowledge of words). This is the subject we are studying at the moment. This word comes from two Greek words, "etymos," which means "true"--"real," and "logos," which means "knowledge." The true and real knowledge of words.
These twelve words illustrate the interest and fascination there are in studying and analyzing the history and derivation of words.
All ideas, according to Professor James, the celebrated psychologist, are instantly associated with words. Therefore, words play an important part in all business activities and social intercourse. It is very essential to use the proper ones. People will react more quickly and more favorably to word stimuli than they will to pictures or colors.
Since words play such an important part, it is only proper and fitting that we should pause for a moment to analyze them.
What is a word? A word is a name. It is a definite unit of intelligence. It is a symbol that means or signifies something. Without meaning, it is a noise or just a sound. With meaning, it is a complete unit of speech, which signifies and communicates an idea. It is being understood. Therefore, we employ words to build a durable structure of communication.
Ideas and thoughts are communicated in two ways, oral and written. To make these two methods more vivid and elastic, words are incorporated in the different parts of speech. The noun is used to name a thing. The verb is used to affirm or to predicate some-thing. It is also used to express action or mode of being. The adjective is used to describe. Words are the language to express our ideas, to make our message understood, our report clear, our deeds appreciated, and to carry on our social and business relationships with each other. Words discern and beautify our relations.
A building covers an entire city block. The key that unlocks the door to that building takes up very little space in your pocket. Yet that key permits you to make a complete inspection of everything in that building. Stored-up knowledge about a particular subject, profession, science or business may be compared to this building. The key that unlocks the door to this knowledge is words. Once the door is opened, the knowledge is yours.
On February 21, 1947, in Ripley's "Believe it or Not," under a pictorial sketch of the author of this book, was listed the following information:
EARL PREVETTE, LL.B.
COMPLETED 32 COURSES IN LAW--PASSED THE STATE BOARD OF EXAMINERS--WAS LICENSED AS AN ATTORNEY-AT-LAW AND GRADUATED WITH A COLLEGE DEGREE--ALL IN 5 MONTHS
Many people are interested in knowing how I could accomplish so much in such a short period of time. I used the key. All branches of the law, like all other branches of specialized knowledge, are built around key words. Get these key words established in your mind, and they unlock all the other doors. It seems to form a chain, and by quick review of key words, definitions, terms, phrases and all other necessary information flash vividly before you. It is like a chain of lightning, one flash instantly blends into another flash, to form the one big flash which illuminates the whole sky. One key word links to another key word, and soon the whole subject is completely illuminated and coordinated into a complete whole.
Speaking of key words, this is the way I made use of them to accomplish the results as told by Ripley. I reduced the whole subject of law to its simplest terms. Common law is common sense, so I endeavored to apply common sense in making use of key words.
Law is a rule of action, to establish and maintain order in private and public affairs. A violation of this rule in private affairs is cause for civil action. A violation of this rule in public affairs is cause for criminal action. Key words, "private," "public," "civil," and "criminal."
All "private affairs" in law are based on one key word, "contract." Contract is an agreement between two or more persons based on a sufficient consideration, to do or not to do a particular thing. It is the key word to regulate all business relationships dealing with tangibles or intangibles. It deals with individuals, partnerships, corporations, personal property, real property, wills, mortgages, insurance, assurance, or any other property. A violation of the terms of a contract by either party constitutes a civil action.
A violation of the rule of action in public affairs is a crime or an act or omission forbidden by law.
Crime is expressed in "misdemeanor," "treason," "murder," "felony," and "arson." These are key words in criminal law. A knowledge of these words enables you to understand the fundamental principles of the law pertaining to crime.
In private affairs "contract" is the key word in law. In public affairs "crime" is the key word. The knowledge of law or any other subject depends on key words. To follow the simple clue of picking a key word will enable you to master any subject and to put it at your command.
As an insurance broker, 1 try to know the full (meaning of every word connected with my business. Does it pay? Listen to this story.
I was talking to a man whom I had never seen over the telephone about insurance. He asked me the difference between insurance and assurance. This is what I told him: "Insurance is the act o£ insuring, whereby one party undertakes to indemnify or guarantee another against loss by a contingent event." A fire-insurance policy is based on a contingent event, one which may not occur. In fact, a fire insurance policy may be in force forever and never be a claim. "Assurance is the act of assuring, whereby one party undertakes to indemnify or guarantee another against loss of life, which is based not on a contingent event, but on an event that is certain." All life "insurance" policies are really life "assurance" policies. If kept in force long enough, they become a claim, either as an endowment when the proceeds are paid to the assured in cash, or as a death claim when the proceeds are paid to a beneficiary. Therefore, all fire policies are "insurance" that depend on a contingency for fulfillment, and all life policies are "assurance," predicated on a certainty that must happen.
The man was so well pleased with this simple explanation that the commission for the business he gave me amounted to over one thousand dollars. One hundred words--one thousand dollars. Does it pay to know your words?
Every digit in mathematics has its place. Anyone out of place means a mistake. As an example: 12 plus 13 is not 21, it is 25. Substituting the 5 for the 1 corrects the mistake.
Every note in music has its place. It is the correct combination of notes that produces harmony. Any note out of place causes a discord.
As digits speak in mathematics, as notes speak in music, so words speak in dealing with people.
A lot of words thrown together may be only a noise, while if placed in the proper combination and spoken with the right pitch and tempo, they become notes and tones of power and influence.
The carpenter, the mason and the engineer must keep a close watch over the tools and instruments they use. It is these that enable them to build durable structures and to do the job well. In dealing with people, you must check up on the words you put in action. The words that you use are the tools that persuade people to act. It is very essential to get the real meaning and true significance into each word. "Every little movement has a meaning all of its own"; so does every little word. Words must be of such nature as to carry the real meaning to others. People must understand what each word refers to, and when you get this meaning over, there is a meeting of minds. There is an understanding and an agreement. This instantly establishes confidence and makes it possible for you to present ideas and thoughts with authority. Get people to agree on things to which your words refer, and they will act.
Science estimates that people will respond to word stimuli within one-to two-tenths of a second. You can prove this by making some harsh or cutting remark to a person and see his face instantly turn red. Harsh words offend the ear and cut to the quick. In writing or speaking, by all means avoid harsh and bitter words. They sting with the tongue of an adder.
You can slap a person down with your fist, he will arise, and be your friend; but cut him with a harsh word and he is an enemy for life. Words cut deeper than a sword, and their wound is incurable.
Man could make things long before he invented words to describe them. He could make signs and talk long before he could write. His primitive nature will respond more quickly to spoken words than to the written word which represents his cultural training. Words spoken are sound signals and a means of getting the quickest reaction and, in many cases, the best response. Pay strict attention to your spoken words. As Dickens so aptly said: "A word in earnest is as good as a speech."
Disputes and sometimes heated arguments may instantly be allayed by consulting the dictionary. At our house we have one or two dictionaries always at hand. In the case of a word in dispute as to derivation, meaning, usage or correct pronunciation, the dictionary is immediately consulted, and everyone is satisfied. The "dictionary habit" is a good one to cultivate and many useful words may be added to your vocabulary by using it.
Beware of using big words and technical phrases. Verbal ghosts and hifalutin talk may sound good, but they do not mean anything to people. To direct the thoughts and actions of people successfully, you must use plain, simple words that they can understand.
The late Will Rogers once said: "I'm just a plain old cow-hand from Oklahoma, trying to get along; and as long as I remain a plain old cow-hand, I will get along and be able to eat." There is a great lesson in this for everyone, especially when words are used. As long as you present your thoughts and ideas in a sincere, plain, old-fashioned way, the results will speak for themselves.
Certain words, according to psychologists, produce an emotional reaction in most people. The word "lemon" makes your mouth water. "Roast beef" creates a gastric juice and makes you feel hungry for a minute. Some words cause your hair to stand on end. Some cause your heart to beat faster. Therefore, words are a very potent influence on people, and by speaking the right word you can always get people to say "yes."
Napoleon had generals who were a foot taller than himself, yet they obeyed him. These generals did not dread Napoleon's physique. It was the words he used that made these generals move and caused thousands of people to follow him. Men can be subdued or led to victory by words.
We all know the story of Ali Baba, when he stood before the cave, and spoke the magic words "open, Sesame," and the door opened and lo! untold wealth and riches were available to him.
The sale of any merchandise, service or proposition depends largely on the words used by the salesman. The salesman who uses the most colorful words, with the most feeling and meaning, is the one who usually leads the sales force.
Using the right word for the right occasion is no trick. It is an art anyone can develop by studying the meaning of words and their application. Speak and write in words that others may understand.
In dealing with people study and analyze the words you use. Catalogue a few key words, around these build your conversation and write your letters. Of course, you can vary them with the occasion. Say the words aloud, pronounce them correctly, and try not to use dull words, flat words, or words with no feeling. Speak to someone about the words which you may think are doubtful, and endeavor to find out if what you are saying is being understood the way you want it to be understood. The words that signify meaning, and words that sparkle with meaning, are the words you want to use. Words that simplify things, and simplify the utility of them are the correct words to employ. Use little words with hooks that catch the attention. Use apt words and they will nail your message to the minds of people.
The application of words starts with an idea in your mind. The words you use are the tools to get that idea over. A point with an idea, presented with right words, hits the bull's eye. You live in a practical world, you deal with practical people, and for their sake and for your pocketbook's welfare, it will pay you to use plain, popular, everyday words with a practical meaning. No one can prevent you from using big words and high-sounding phrases, but they may prevent you from being properly understood.
Therefore, in conclusion, let me suggest that you analyze yourself, analyze your job or position, and analyze every word you use in your occupation, regardless of what it may be. Put yourself in the other person's shoes. Ask yourself: Do these words appeal to me? Would they make me act? Would they persuade and convince me? If you think they would, they will have the same effect on the other people. Words usually react on all of us in about the same way. By studying words, they will talk back to you and reveal many hidden secrets that mean much to you. Knowing the full meaning of words teaches you to spell and pronounce them correctly, and they become magnets to attract others to you. A robot or a parrot never varies. They put no sense in words. You can put both sense and feeling in them. Words, like music, when harmonized, convey not only meaning but feeling. Hard hearts wilt in the flame of kind words, and when spoken softly and gently, kind words render a good and lasting influence. The good, the joy they will bring, no one can tell. A command of words qualifies you to present thoughts and ideas clearly, forcefully, and convincingly. They are the tools you use every day to promote business, create plans and establish social relations. The correct words qualify you to do this with efficiency, grace, ease and charm. Use "The Key to a Fortune" and help yourself.