I have a secret passion about language. All right, well, if you know me and have known me for any length of time, then you know I have a thing about words. I enjoy them. I like feeling the flow of them roll across my tongue as I communicate with others. I enjoy spending my time going through the etymology of various words, just to see. I like seeing the history of a word, as we know it today, and why the meaning of words have changed. Occasionally, I try to start using some older phraseology in my communication with others, but I tend to stop after a while. Not many people quite understand me when I speak as though I am attempting to recreate the flowery sentiments of Medieval English and the lavish ideas expressed by tales like the Perceval, the Story of the Holy Grail. Besides, I can’t write the words out in nearly as fancy a script as they used to.
But words fascinate me.
I enjoy them.
I enjoy employing them.
I use many on a daily basis. I sit in front of a computer all day, communicating usually through E-mail with my clients. I’ve been told at this job that I need to always second guess whatever it is that I want to say. I’ve been told repeatedly that I need to “dumb down” my language. This hurts me, honestly. I never thought of my communication skills as being above anyone else. I use the words that come to me because those are the ones I learned. However, I also know that a lot of the verbiage I’ve learned over the years stems from my varied and extensive reading lists. So, I’ve been forced to think and re-think my E-mails. There are days where I stare at an E-mail for hours and hours because I know that words like “differentiate” and “rectify” and “allocate” and the like may go over the heads of the people whom I’m talking to.
This wounds me.
It’s almost like because I have a passion for reading and for learning new words, then I am wrong. I know the whole point behind the statements of my supervisors: my language skills are far above the people who I am interacting with. This makes sense. I don’t know the people on the other end of my E-mail, but it’s possible that they are all very much like me: working a dead-end job in the hopes of one day actually making ends meet. And in many cases, they may not like to read or to learn new words. In many cases, they may just be only interested in getting through the second in front of the one they just wasted reading my E-mail. And maybe, in that second of wasted E-mail reading, they didn’t understand anything I had to say because they don’t care about utilizing various words to make the point they’ve been aiming for.
Whatever the reason, I understand the philosophy behind my supervisors’ statements.
It still wounds me.
I think a large part of my passionate love affair with the various forms of communication stem from my writing background. Even though most of everything I have ever written has never seen the light of day, it is a realm in which I have created using nothing more than the ability to describe effectively, to use words effectively to create that other world. It’s helped that I grew up lost, almost literally, in books. My entire world would change from each day as I chose a new book to read. But, honestly, if it wasn’t for the desire to constantly write some new story, some new universe where the bad guy loses or where the good guy loses, then I honestly wonder if I would be nearly as interested in the history, definitions, and use of various words. I strongly doubt this would be the case.
Whatever the reason, I enjoy words.
This goes well with the whole ancient Egyptian belief about words.
Words, in ancient Egyptian belief, were the founding blocks of everything. Without the supreme act of creation – through the correct verbiage by the netjer in question – there would be nothing. As I was reading The Priests of Ancient Egypt by Serge Sauneron, he touched on this very briefly towards the end of the book. But as I was reading this second, I felt the potency of the point he was making. Words have power and in that power, it is only that which we grant it. In a single moment, we can create something explosive such as life. Or in a single anger fueled second, we can tear down a single person to the very fiber of their beings. Words, as such, are incredibly important in many modern-day Kemetics’ practice. But with this, also comes the fact that the world has changed and the words that may have once founded a nation or destroyed poop with so heroic a measure are no longer practiced in the way they once world.
The ancient world fell out of favor for one reason or another and the beliefs contained therein did as well.
We modern-day practitioners create this to the best of our abilities, but it is difficult. It is never so much more difficult than for those of us who have no intent or no ability to learn the words that once created the world. It is not a simple act of not being able to, or willing to learn, on my part. It is simply a theory that was sort of cemented after reading that book by Sauneron: the ancient Egyptian language is, in itself, a magical formula. It is not a thing for the laity. Even with teachers aplenty, back then, it still took years upon years for a scribe to be perfected enough to utilize their own language effectively and learn the magical formulae for the daily rites. Scribes were a specialized service and I am not to be a part of that because that is not where my path leads me. Laity is my world and I will continue down this path.
But how does all this knowledge work with modern words?
Nowadays, there are words everywhere. In some instances, these words have some severely negative associations. This is the fault of people for using them in such a way. Some words, people have taken back their power from. I’m not going to list them because I am not one of the people who have taken those words, usurped their negative association, and given it a new meaning. In other instances, the use of some words is a hotly debated contest between who must be correct and who must be wrong. I honestly try to steer away from all of that. I just love the words and the meanings and the how they came to be and the everything in between. Whether the word was negative or positive is only spun by the people utilizing it – so why the fuck does it matter so much?
We make it matter.
What seems like years ago now, but really not that long ago, I ended up using a word that has had many definitions. This word was apparently the wrong word to use in the mixed company I was within. What startled me was the vehement reaction to, well, a word. I had gone through some of the negative actions of this word myself, but by the act of being able to use it in any of its other definitions meant, somehow, that I was not a survivor. Or, maybe it meant that I was and that I was a fucked up one. Whatever the actual belief behind the people who ripped into me for using this word, I stated my piece and walked away. It wasn’t worth the conversation, but it did make me realize that there were people who there who feared words, who hated words, who felt that they should stamp out every possible other association with a single word just because it had once been used in context to something they had experienced.
I think what startled me the most was that people seemed honestly to hate the world and were scared of it.
We have long since come from the world when words were acts of creation. They can still be – obviously, we have writers. But the acts of creation that these words can create are not the same as that the netjer once created. What writers do is but a pale mockery to what the netjer have done, in my opinion as a writer. While I create very much akin to the netjeru who have used words to create such things as people and the world we live in, it’s a pale comparison to me. I can never create something as varied and beautiful and horrible and terrifying as the world we live in today or the people who populate it. I can only attempt to create a one dimensional world that, maybe, someone will enjoy spending time with now and again. (As if.) It is nothing like the world my gods created as much as it may be trying.
Now, we live in a world where whatever spin we want to make on a single word is up to us.
But we can only make it as angry and hurtful as the tonality of our voice or the expressiveness of our face. We can only give it the power that it probably does not deserve.
The word itself is neutral. It has no basis in anything unless we give it that basis.
I am tired of people telling me a word is hurtful.
How can it be if I am using it at its most basic definition?
The word is not any of the things that you associate it with. It just is. It is a part of the world that we live in because we created it to describe certain instances. Whether you give it a negative association or not is entirely up to you. Whether it has any worth at all is entirely up to you. Whether you use it or not, is up to you. Whether it is erased from your vocabulary in its entirety is up to you. But because all of these things are up to a single, individual human person, everyone else’s reaction to the word is going to be different. Every single person is going to have their own specific and special circumstances in which they come right out and say, “I do not want to use this word. I will never use this word. Please do not use it around me.”
I can respect that.
I have to since the world I find myself in more and more is entirely surrounded by nothing but words.
My problem is that I don’t understand why people give these words any type of power. By fearing it, by hating it, by striking it from your vocabulary, then you are giving it a strange hold over you. A word is an item that humans created to describe a thing. In that action, there is neither malice nor joy. As I said, the word just is. It is a thing. And just as a gun or a sword has no negative or positive association with it unless you give it either one, so too are words. There is little difference I suppose. Words can be utilized as harshly as either of those two instruments to destroy a person. I’ve seen it happen, I’ve done it myself, and I have had it happen to me. The thing is that words are something we will see and use far more regularly than either of the two weapons I just mentioned.
So, why is there such a need to strike words from use?
Why is there no legislation moving forward to ban the words that people despise, that people will not use, that people cannot use, or that people ask others not to use?
Has legislation not been entered to restrict gun access?
Perhaps we should do likewise with words.
But then, that enters an entire gray area and there is no real way to enforce such a thing.
The point here is that we give the words the power that wound us, destroy us, that hurt us. We allow them to take over and make them into the boogeyman that we must hide from. I find this, as a Kemetic, incredibly disheartening and the entire trend is anathema to me. It is as though the power that the netjeru gave us to create our own worlds – through writing, through heka, through these descriptors – that we are slapping them in the face for their gift of language. We are telling them, “Thanks, but no thanks.”
Words have had much power over me in my past.
I’m tired of this.
I’m tired of cowering beneath the weight of my terrors and my traumas. I am most entirely tired of having to defend my use of linguistics when, point of fact, the word that I may utilize is the very word that I mean and in its proper context.
I know what it feels like to be raked over hot coals of horror and fear. I know what it is like to have something hit you square between the eyes and take you for another round of guilt, shame, and revulsion after you finally managed to crawl out of your personalized pit. I know what it is like to lay cowering beneath the weight of the world and fearing everything associated with it. I know what it feels like to have someone you love whispers harsh invectives towards you just to watch you break a little more with each day. But the thing is that I won’t let those invectives or even those seemingly innocuous words rule my life, my will, my power. I will not let them. I will not stop others from allowing this to happen. But you must understand that I do not understand. I will never understand no matter your explanations, kind or otherwise.
I have my fucking power.
And I will keep it.