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“The Meanings of a Word” by Gloria Naylor is published in the Bedford Reader, which is a required reading in the RCC’s English 50 course. Naylor’s essay describes novelist’s frustration with attempting to use written language to capture the essence of the spoken word.

There is a phrase that says that 'the pen is mightier than the sword'. Taken in literal terms, this phrase is a physical impossibility. Obviously, he who wields the bigger, stronger sword would triumph over he who brings a flimsy pen to the fight, unless by some slim chance it was some sort of new, unbreakable pen. What, then, is the meaning of this saying? The answer lies not in comparing the physical appearances of these two objects, but in considering what they can do. A sword, when used by a master of the blade, can kill maybe a dozen people. A pen can kill millions. It can condemn entire cities to death. In 1945, documents authorizing the use of the atomic bomb on Japan did just that; with the signatures of the cabinet and the President of the United States, Hiroshima and Nagasaki's fates were sealed. Consider also, that while a sword may be used to threaten a village or two, using a pen can set entire countries free, and decide the future of generations to come. The independence of British colonies, such as Zambia in 1964, was finalized by a stroke of a pen at the bottom of the declaration.

Hey, I am kinda confused on the last paragraph. Like I get that her whole essay is about how consensus matters and everything, and how at first view of the word was way off of what the real meaning of it is because of the consensus she had heard it in and the context it was used in.

“The Meanings of a Word”by Gloria Naylor

1. The opening paragraph relates to the topic she is writing about because she is saying that written word is interpreted by the person reading it. At least in the inflection and whatnot. And she seems to say in the essay that a particular word may mean something entirely different when it is typed than when someone actually says it. The reason being, you can hear emotions in the inflection of the words, tone, and context. All of those things are interpreted when they are read.

-excerpt taken from Gloria Naylor's 'The Meanings of a Word'.

I very much agree that the consensus gives words power. Words themselves are words. They mean nothing until human beings decide what they mean. Sometimes words mean nothing much when used a certain way and something else entirely another way. Like the word bitch. If you are referring to a female dog then that is true. But in the context of calling a woman that, well you are likely to get a slap to...

A Descriptive Analysis of Nigger: The Meaning of a Word …

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Gloria Naylor: Critical Perspectives Past and Present, Amistad Literary Series (New York: Amistad Press, 1993), edited with H. L. Gates Jr.

Free The Meaning of a Word by Gloria Naylor Essays …

... word? Who knows, but that is what we relate the two together. Semantics means the study of the way humans use language to evoke meaning in others. For example, "I said you are crazy". How many different ways can we say that ...


The Meaning of a Word" Gloria Naylor, ..

... ., it has been used to describe totally unrelated things. How did society manage to distort and skew the meaning of a word to change from referring to an animal to demeaning a person? It is not very common nowadays to hear someone refer to his cute little female ...

Due Tuesday- Read "The Meaning of the Word" by Gloria Naylor

... is due to factors such as, confusion of sense because of sound, abstract words and phrases, synonyms, homonyms, polysemy and figurative extensions of sense. Some words may have two or three meanings depending on the context in which the word is used. Sense ...

I think that the meaning of the word "nigger" depends on the ..

“The spoken word, like the written word, amounts to a nonsensical arrangement of sounds or letters without a consensus that assigns meaning. And building from the meanings of what we hear, we order reality. Words themselves are innocuous; it is the consensus that gives them true power.” Naylor, said.

2/11/2015 · I enjoyed the story “Mommy, What Does ‘Nigger’ Mean?” written by Gloria Naylor because it clarifies the power of words

If the actual meaning of a word was the intention, (as titled) then I believe I am obligated to clarify that there is a great difference between the meaning of the word Nigger and the expression nigga.