Monday, February 25, 2013

Words...So Many Words!

Jacie, my 11-year old daughter, was shocked to hear that girls use 5,000 words more than boys. (I actually made up the number.) Here’s how the conversation went;

Jacie: Girl use 5,000 words every day?
Me: No. Girls use 5,000 more words than boys every day. So if boys use 6,000 words in a day, girls use 11,000.
She was shocked and and spent many words detailing how shocked she was. Of course, whether the numbers were made up or not, she was making my point. But her need to use up her daily quota of words clearly knows no boundaries, as the next night, she was found talking in her sleep. Clearly, if she doesn't get anyone to listen to her during the day, this will not keep her from talking.

She is not the only female in my house who talks in their sleep, but for reasons of safety, I cannot reveal the name of the other female. (Read: My wife would kill me if I told you it was her.)

This got me wondering what the actual number is for average words used per day by men and women. It appears there is no immediate link to a study done, as numbers vary from men using 2,000-4,000 a day while women use 6,000-8,000. On the more extreme side, men are said to use 15,000 compared to women using 30,000 every day.

Urban legend, it seems to be commonly accepted that women talk more than men. When I looked for reasons why, a good authority told me she would use fewer words if she didn't have to tell me everything twice. On the other hand, this seems to be a widely held notion among men;

"Once I didn't talk to my wife
for six months," said the comedian.
"I didn't want to interrupt."

All kidding aside, this did get me thinking about words. They are very important. They help us to convey emotions. They communicate our needs. They connect us with God through prayer. They give voice to our praise, our wonderings, our dreams, and our fears. They fill the blogosphere with thousands of thoughts read by dozens of people.

Words help us to build relationships. When used carefully, they can also help us restore those same relationships. In the right combination, they help us to think, laugh, cry, cringe and consider many things we wouldn't otherwise reflect on. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but actual words give feet to our knowledge and wings to our expressions.

The writers of Proverbs understood the importance of words. From warnings of foolish talk to commands to guard words, they never underestimated the power found in speech.

For I too was a son to my father,
    still tender, and cherished by my mother.
Then he taught me, and he said to me,
    “Take hold of my words with all your heart;
    keep my commands, and you will live.
Get wisdom, get understanding;
    do not forget my words or turn away from them. ~Proverbs 4:3-5

However many words I use, written or spoken, this is my prayer;

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight,
Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. ~Psalm 19:14

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