The power of words

Have you ever seen this video, so successful among Internet users in the last days? Whether you like it or not, I am pretty sure it doesn’t leave you cold.

A blind man panhandles, showing a piece of cardboard with the following writing: “I’m blind, please help”. Nobody sees him, until a young lady changes the wording to: “It’s a beautiful day and I can’t see it”. Here comes the little miracle: people start to “see” the man and to give him money.

It doesn’t really matter to me if this is a short advert, as it is really helpful to think about the power of words: not only what we say, but also how we say it, makes the difference. Especially when it comes to our feelings!

How many times we just say “I am fine”, being totally unaware of the many nuances hidden behind these easy words. And how many times we say something to a friend and we use exaggerated/wrong/uncalled-for words, so that in the end we think “if only I had found the right words…”.

This means that the search for the best terms is not only an exercise for linguists, or a sophisticated little quirk, but a real need which could help us to improve our lives. Italian dictionary, for instance, is made up by 200000 terms, more or less, but the usual words are no more than 7000 and this number drops significantly if we consider just basic conversations.

How is it possible to save the unusual words we are forgetting or to discover new ones, without being forced to open our heavy and dusty old dictionary? Let’s make a couple of good examples, at least for Italian language!

Don’t miss Una Parola Al Giorno (One Word A Day): born from the idea of two young University students, this website, as the title reveals, revises one word a day, giving the meaning, the etymology, useful comments or interesting anecdotes about it. You can also receive the word of the day directly to your email address, thanks to the free newsletter service.

Another option: the Dizionario delle parole perdute (Dictionary of Lost Words), whose aim is to fix with a virtual nail the Italian words that are no longer used.

What else to say… Enjoy the reading!

[Italiano]

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