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You should have seen my son’s face when I gave him a dictionary for his birthday

You should have seen my son’s face when I gave him a dictionary for his birthday

He was speechless, but he soon learned the true meaning of words.

We may fail words, but words never fail us. There’s an endless supply of them, and they’re all free to use.

T*O*W*E*R. The tiles flip over. The T is grey but the other four letters are green.

Grey means it’s the wrong letter and green indicates that it’s the right letter in the place. That was my fifth round of Wordle. One try remains to guess the five-letter word.

My unbroken 133 Wordle streak is at stake. If you’ve ever played the word game that has captured the world’s imagination, you know Wordle can be a jerk.

One letter will either spark joy and my day will start with a spring in my step, or cause me to hobble about in a grump.

One letter can make a big difference.

Word War Three erupted between Wikipedia editors over whether aluminium should be spelt “aluminum” or “aluminium”.

More than 40,000 words were spilled fighting over the pros and cons of the extra “i”, and eventually “aluminium” emerged triumphant.

Electricity gets switched off, water doesn’t always flow out of our taps, and even the Internet goes out of whack, but the world never runs out of words.

We may fail words, but words never fail us.

There’s an endless supply of them, and they’re all free to use.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, there are 170,000 words in use.

We speak an average of two words per second, so with 86,400 seconds in a day, it would take you 24 hours to utter every single word without pauses and without your tongue tripping on otorhinolaryngologist, Worcestershire, or anemone.

We’ll never run out of words because new ones like nearlywed, petfluencer, and enshittification are constantly being added to the dictionary.

Words also have multiple meanings. “Set”, for example, has 430 different meanings.

A flower is not only a plant, it’s also something that flows. Number is a number, like three, but it’s also something that makes you numb, like ether (which, coincidentally, is an anagram of three).

Words can entertain you. You can spend hours making anagrams like “moon starer” from astronomer, and “Presbyterians” from Britney Spears.

Who needs a PlayStation when you have words, which is what I told my son on his 15th birthday when I handed him his gift: a dictionary.

He was speechless.

“What do you say?” I asked him.

“I have no words,” he shrugged, so I made a mental note to give him a thesaurus for his 16th birthday.

But words aren’t only fun and games.

They are powerful tools that are at the heart of human connection.

They can make us laugh (“My three favourite things are eating my family and not using commas”) and cry (who hasn’t wept to Harry Chapin’s tearjerker Cat’s in the Cradle?)

Words can make people rich (ask JK Rowling), transport us to faraway places, let us slip into other people’s shoes and help us make sense of the world.

They have the power to give hope, provide comfort, and renew a person’s belief in themself. They can weave magic.

It took only six words to tell this poignant story: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn” (which has often been attributed to Ernest Hemingway), while Tolstoy needed 587,287 words for his massive opus, War and Peace.

Words develop our ideas and shape our thoughts, helping us understand complex concepts so we can change, progress and move forward.

In the right hands (mouths?) words foster friendship, create peace, and inspire us.

The right words at the right time can change the course of history, but so can the wrong ones. We need to be intentional when we use them

And so it was with great intention that I made my final Wordle guess. I held my breath as the tiles flipped over. P*O*W*E*R.

Five green tiles. Phew! The power of words.

Jonathan Ancer

Change expert, Jonathan Ancer, believes that the big change equals big opportunity.

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