ABC

When we were in pre-k we were taught the alphabet. We were too young to think about why we had to learn and sound out 26 letters repetitively. Now after reading Kress, he states that “words are empty with meaning”(1). Think about it for a second. Words are just a combination of the letters we were taught when were little. According to Kress, the reason we understand what a particular word mean is because it is “filled with meaning” due to our imagination.

It’s kind of like learning a new language. I’m sure most us had to learn some sort of second language at one point. You would walk into class not understanding what was being written on the white board. Eventually you would come to write essays in this new language. So where did we have to start? Usually it’s with the alphabet and from there the vowels or any symbols that language has. Then we continue with nouns, verbs, and then adjectives. The process of learning a language and all its rules is a long and arduous. In the end we come to acknowledge this new language and we put meaning to the once unfamiliar words on the white board. I didn’t like Spanish that much.

It kind of interesting to think about words as a bunch of symbols combined rather than a word by the way we define it. How hard would it be to create a new language? Pretty hard I suppose. You would probably have to start with alphabet and assign sounds to each symbol, but if you can do it, then that’s just one more language to add on to your resume.

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11 thoughts on “ABC

  1. People form a cognitive image in their heads based on what is being read. Different individuals have experienced different events throughout the duration of their lifetime, so people will envision contrasting imagery when reading a piece of text. For an example, the statement “the dog is running in the park”, I visualize a basset hound awkwardly running through a open field, but you probably envisioned something entirely different. People assign different formulations of imagery to various words, so meaning in text is based on people’s own interpretations.

    • I agree with what you’re saying. It’s pretty interesting how one person can say something and every person in that room will each have a unique image in their head. I guess that’s why when two people read the book they approach it differently. One may read it in one setting and be able to imagine everything, while the other would have to reread it several times before understanding.

  2. Even though Kress states, “words are empty with meaning”, words are necessary for communication. Using a language as an example proves right there that words do have some kind of meaning. I do agree that pictures and images have more but what would our world be without words? How would anyone understand anything? Yes, we must use our imagination to give words meaning according to Kress, but doesn’t that come naturally to us already? Reading articles like these in an English course reminds me how I was taught to always use my imagination in my writings, especially in grade school. Kress’s article would have never been understood if those words were ’empty with meaning’.

  3. Words do indeed consist of a variety of symbols, which in turn gives us a substance we can add meaning to. Without clumping words to a meaning, they do remain “empty,” however that can also be applied to images as well. If someone was exposed to a certain image or scene for the first time, it, too, would be meaningless. Meaning behind words and images arise from personal experiences and the way the world has chosen to define them. Also, in terms of acquiring a new language, I always thought it was interesting that there is a short window of time in the younger years of our lives to truly develop the correct phonemes of pronunciation, and during those years, we can acquire a language faster than any other point in our life.
    -Uzma

  4. Words are just a bunch of symbols and letters pushed together so that we can communicate with each other. But in my opinion, they are not empty of meaning. If you were to take a famous author, such as Shakespeare for example, his play are full of meaning, and half of us can not even understand his meaning. That is where the English language started out, and unfortunately has become, according to Kress, empty of meaning. This is unfortunate but true, and it unfortunately will continue to go this way. Why can we not all speak like they did and put the meaning back into the words themselves?

  5. When Kress said “words are empty with meaning” that made so much sense that it just got me really thinking about it. Words and meanings as we look at them are made up to be so perfect or imperfect. In reality these words mean nothing. Good or bad. Words are just words and when you really sit there and structure how it is words and meanings came about it really starts to get you thinking. I remember when my mom was on leave and we ended up moving to Germany because of her job. I was put in a position to learn another language and I had no idea where to start. I just realized that in Spanish, there are so many different dialects. You can be speaking to someone from Peru or Brazil but that doesn’t mean they’re going to understand the same Spanish as someone from Mexico. I just think it’s crazy how words and meanings can be either the most simple thing on earth or the most complex most difficult things you have ever had to deal with.

  6. Words are just like bricks, because usually the whole message has to be assembled with many words in order to truly have an impact. Therefore, I would have to agree with Kress, “words are empty with meaning” (1).
    For example, someone screams a word help, what is being communicated? Is someone singing along to the Beatles? Is someone in trouble? Should I worry? Is someone playing a joke on me? The list of questions can go on, so Margaret is absolutely on point, when she says that meaning is up to a person’s own perspective. I also would like to add that context also plays an important role in determining the meaning of a word.
    Someone was just really excited to see the Help.

  7. That’s a really great way to look at language and how we learn it. I do agree that words are filled with our own imagination. I remember not understanding words and then putting my own idea of the definition in place. Until I learned the proper definition of the word I would just make a fool of myself when using the word wrong. One example I remember, was when I was younger and first starting to get into the Red Hot Chili Peppers, I heard and liked the song, “Californication”, but not seeing the music video and being a little too young to really know, I told my parents that we should go on a Flornication to see grandma. Needless to say, I learned the words true meaning and was greatly embarrassed about the whole subject. So yeah, words are empty vessels waiting to be filled with the right, but sometimes wrong meaning.

  8. I agree with the ab0ove comment. with out words how would be able to describe feeling or just state facts. Acutally feelings can be seen through body launage, but withpout words it would be very difficult to understand what people were trying to relay to you. With out words how would you be able to tell a story, just make a simple statment without having to act out like you are playing charades. For this fact i believe that words do carry meaning, not to say that pictures and sources dont, but words are just a much more expedient and simpler way of delivering your message
    -kb

  9. I agree with the ab0ove comment. Without words how would be able to describe feeling or just state facts. Actually feelings can be seen through body language, but without words it would be very difficult to understand what people were trying to relay to you. Without words how would you be able to tell a story, just make a simple statement without having to act out like you are playing charades? For this fact i believe that words do carry meaning, not to say that pictures and sources don’t, but words are just a much more expedient and simpler way of delivering your message
    -kb

  10. You make a very good point which reminded me of something my sister said the other day. She asked, “what if (an object) was called something different?” and she’s right. If we wanted to name a telephone or a shoe something different, then we could have. It just so happened that the word “shoe” was assigned to something you wear on your feet. Words could have endless meanings to a variety of different people. Another example comes to mind, Google. Many years ago, the phrase “googling it” would have left weird looks on people’s faces, but now it’s commonly accepted. The same thing applies with Xerox. If we were to ask young people what “Xeroxing it” meant then they wouldn’t know as opposed to an adult who used a Xerox machine.

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