Sitting alone on a West Midlands train, I buried my face in my hands wondering what on earth I should do. “I can’t do this,” I told myself. I’d just spent the day calling international schools in Europe trying to sell them an education package for a friend’s business. I think telesales is one of the most soul sucking activities in the entire business world! “I can’t make money for other people for the rest of my life,” I said. “I won’t.” It was the summer of 2005, and it was my seventh day back on British soil after serving an 18-month mission for the LDS church in the US. I graduated with a degree in international business management before my mission, but now the prospect of pushing paper for a career, like all the other business minions, was not appealing. Like the sunny countryside whizzing by, my own train of though was working its way through hills and valleys of ...view middle of the document...
It sounds a little rash but words can do that-they can mean that much and move us to do big things. My mother has been a social worker for over 25 years. When I was in college the first time, I envied her for having a real job, a job that helped people. Now it was my chance to work towards a real job, a compassionate job of my own.
Words, of course, have been the subject of many lectures and presentations within my major of speech and hearing science. Aside from the powerful semantic meaning words can carry, the very production of words is a wonder in and of itself. Somehow, the gray matter in our brain is the home of all we know and understand. Thoughts gather, and words are born in a region of our brain called Broca’s area. Once the planning is set, neural impulses fire commands to the structures and muscles for speech. Sound is disturbed air. As the lungs slowly exhale, our vocal cords chop up the air stream by rapidly opening and closing. This essentially creates a buzz in our throats. The buzz resonates up through our throat and into our mouth where it’s formed by the tongue. Air blown into an empty bottle, sounds different to one half full because the space for the air to flow and vibrate is bigger. Almost like an ever-changing water level, the tongue changes the shape of the space where the air flows within our body. Each small movement helps us make the 47 sounds of English. So the expression, that word is right on the tip of my tongue, is not far from the truth! Speech is the most complex movement a human being makes, but why does this matter? It may not matter to many people but it does to me, and certainly to those who experience problems with their words, with language or speech.
Having something to say, but not having the words to say it; hearing the words, but not understanding the message; speaking, but not being accepted because it doesn’t sound like everyone else, and not being understood are why the words matter. This is the literacy of my future, words themselves and the things that make the words.