A Word is Worth 1,000 Meanings


By Alexandra V. Maragha

The words that are chosen to describe and illuminate a literary and actual sense of communication and messaging are chosen with purpose to create a precise vision.

When words are chosen to use in messages, they should be carefully examined in order to understand the true implications that a single word may have on an audience, as words may be worth 1,000 meanings.

Literary artists such as poets and some of the best fiction and even non-fiction writers have mastered the ability to create and evoke a precise image or thought after one reads such chosen words on a page. Likewise, the best advertising professionals have mastered this messaging technique to provide an audience with a need to seek a product or service, while many of the best rhetorical speakers know what to say to motivate an individual or masses to take action about a specific issue.

But what does this all really mean?

As a professional communicator, it is imperative to not only study and implement words in a way that motivate and capture an audience, but at the same time, it is equally important to be aware of the non-desired implementations that a word, and thus an overall message, can have when received.

For example, adjectives evoke not only what they are through definition, but they also are defined by personal experience and background. When something is described as “blue”, one person may reference a lighter blue than a darker blue that is intended. This may seem obvious or simple but could cause unintended problems when one “blue” is expected over another “blue” that is real. The background and experience that an individual has set a preexisting idea or tone about something when encountered again, leaving a second experience or reference to be skewed (either positively or negatively) according to the first experience. This both conscious and subliminal mind communication and association is an everyday occurrence with messages that are sent and received.

A recent study about food choices and taste aversion, posted on CNN, supports this communication phenomenon of how background and experience affect messages that are to come, be as it may through food. David Solot, a Ph.D. student in organizational psychology at Walden University, with a Masters in clinical psychology, studied the effects of food poisoning on the brain, thus leading people to dislike and avoid certain foods based on bad experiences. The article, Hate certain foods? It really is all in your head, describes taste aversion at its most basic level. As Solot proceeds, he describes how new foods can impose negative effects on the brain if a person becomes ill shortly after eating new food, even if the food is not the cause of sickness. Subconsciously, the brain is signaling and associating these ties to food and experience which make individuals act accordingly.

As seen in the study through food association, subconscious association plays a key role in communication whether through food or words. Clarity with words and supporting words within a message is essential in order to communicate the exact thought and feeling to an audience, as words may imply over 1,000 messages. It is equally important to understand these words and their meanings in a literal and actual sense as well as understanding the experience and background of those in an audience who will be receiving and interpreting the message accordingly.

The full article, Hate certain foods? It really is all in your head can be viewed here.