Words Mean More Than What Is Set On Paper…

By Odimegwu Onwumere. Odimegwu is a poet, writer and media expert. He lives in the Port Harcourt Province of Rivers State, Nigeria.

A child is engaged with words than reading and this comes even with the child’s first days in school. Processing the child’s thoughts and actions in communication analysis are at most times difficult. Parents and teachers will require the voice skill to properly convey some inbuilt message so that the child can understand instructions, respond and grow up. This is the reason why politicians in Nigeria unlike in the West particularly do not send letters to persuade the electorates during electioneering. Nigerian politicians use speech to address their political spectators and followers in order to make them come to terms with the intrinsic meanings of their political message. Even when they possibly send letters across, they still follow up to digest the content of their missive with oratorical skill or voice. Else, they will not be taken seriously.

Maya Angelou was an American author and poet born on April 4, 1928, in St. Louis, Missouri. She died on May 28, 2014, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina in the United States. She was credited with the phraseology: Words mean more than what is set on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with shades of deeper meaning. She was right in noting that voice communication has the effectiveness for clarity than written words, because there is always room for explanation by the speaker. The importance of human voice in communication has been seen to be more important to written communication.

Some organisations like the Museum of the Word, which is set on the first route of Don Quixote International, saw this importance and set aside every 23rd November each year, as the Day of the Word. The Word here is regarded as a Bond of Humankind. Complimenting this capturing and symbolic representation of the sense of words, one Barbara Walters had admonished humanity about the importance of voice-words that we live with. Walters said: Many people think that polysyllables are a sign of intelligence. It takes the voice to explain every bit of word written or said. One may read written words without comprehending what has been read in line with the writer’s view point or sense. But with voice, it will be more explicit as questions will be asked and interactions made to explain the embodied meanings.

In the good words of one Jean Baptiste Girard, people are meant to know that, by words they excavate, fix the word puzzles and learn thoughts. And by gaining insights on thoughts they learn life. In addition, using colours to form knowledge and meaning, one Edward Thorndike did sum up what Girard had said: Colors fade, temples crumble, empires fall, but wise words endure. Even in some religions, the power in voice-words is essentially recognized. The Christian Bible in the book of Luke 6:45 said: The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks. From this biblical capturing of words, we can understand that words are used as a mechanism of expression, flowing from the heart. Words are mirrors of the inner heart. A cultural heart is framed on the language and dialectics of symbols of a group’s way of communication.

Somebody like J. B. Phillips saw the deeper side of voice in communication and consequently said that “If words are to enter men’s minds and bear fruit they must be the right words shaped cunningly to pass men’s defences and explode silently and effectually within their minds.” In one of Tomasz P. Szynalski’s treatises, the writer although believed the obvious in ‘Reading is easier than listening’, yet had this to say: The only real way to learn to understand fast or accented speech is to spend a lot of time listening to many different speakers. This is why a child who is new to school learns through voice before learning how to read. Words open the listening and communicational orifices of humans to learn.

Maya Angelou was right with her philosophy associated with words and learning. Many scholars like Vincent Ferraro and Kathryn C. Palmer of Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, MA would say that for any person to understand communication better, that person must be dynamic with human orifices. And this is what the oral communication represents, unlike the static aspect which written communication represents. While the scholars believe that there is “a higher level of immediacy and a lower level of retention in the spoken words” they however did not betray the fact by accepting that a speaker has more aptitude to connect with the listener expressively. The argument is contained in the “Differences Between Oral and Written Communication”. Showing Maya Angelou to be right with her view point, her knowledge and expression contenders even wrote that the written language can be significantly more precise, which invariably means that it does not water the quest of the learner to understand more in an understandable approach where there may be questions to ask and answers to be derived. In the modern scientific information on dyslexia, learning difficulties, and developmental disorders in everyday language, one would notice that using oral-IQ and processing tests in the diagnosis of dyslexia and other learning difficulties, have been said to be the best.

Linguistic and language specialists had given this point of view as it is above in ‘Understanding words, behavior, and concepts’. Here, it was shown that a newborn is a fast learner not by the text he or she reads, but by the voice of the parents, even though that the newborn does not fully understand what the parents are saying. The wrangle of this position is that linguists have shown through research that even while in the womb, babies start listening to their parents’ voices, not reading their parents written words. The source of this insight further stated that: Once born, your baby begins tuning in to your words and sentence patterns to figure out what you are saying and instructing. The child also uses his or her learning curiosity, sensitivity and powers of observation to learn about some of the more complicated things – such as love, trust, time, and cause and effect – that exist in his or her physical and emotional world and cultures.

It is imperative to know that in voice communication people learn well than when they are reading. Professionals would say that even when listeners do not understand what the speaker was talking about, there is every tendency that the listener might learn and pick certain aspects of the speaker’s voice style, namely body gestures and moods such as happiness, sadness, love, concern, anxiety, and anger; unlike when they are reading. Connoisseurs also had shown that using voice sends message deeper than written words. They buttress this point by using a baby as a case study. In some estimation, listeners use their senses to take new information about the world around them. Significantly, voice keeps people sensitively adjusted to the people closest to them, than the books closest to them. People respond to the tone of the speaker’s voice, the smile and maybe, the placate of touch. Maya Angelou invariably was saying that through voice, people’s motor skills advance deeper than when they are reading. And she was right!

2 comments on “Words Mean More Than What Is Set On Paper…

  1. Charles. Chidi. Achodo on

    Yes. That’s the poet in her speaking. Voice gives tonal spirit to letters. Letters voiced are infused with life! Variegated life!

  2. NA on

    What people hear is more important than what you say or write. The voice is the major instrument in Igbo tradition and culture. Igbo believe in human voice.
    They pass their history orally. They tell stories to their audience in different voices.Word has wings. Word by whom all things came into being. The voice gives words extra power.Voice is a comforter.
    The voice engages the ears, and the word arrest the eyes and ears and mind at the same time. You can play a tape while driving your car. You can’t do that while you are reading a printed words in a book.


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