What Words Mean

https://xkcd.com/1860/

I think it’s astonishing that the universe is contained in eight letters. Or that love is contained in four. It’s one of the things I adore most about language. We can build entire worlds with the correct assembly of lines, dashes, and dots. We can bathe in the deep black of the galaxy with stars whizzing past. Or fall into a pile of red-dusted leaves in the autumns of our childhoods. I can make a whale orbit the sun or a blade of grass tickle your ankle as you walk towards the beach. Even just a single word can pull you into a litany of half-remembered moments–the breeze of the ocean, and light of the sun through the trees, the image of Saturn’s rings from a book.

But words are also tricksters. They mold themselves to fit sentences and preconceived notions, creating misunderstandings and stripping nuance from even the best-formed phrases.

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