The Weight of Words

Weight of WordsHave you ever heard, “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me”? Who came up with that saying? Whoever it was, they must have never heard hurtful words.

The truth is words can hurt just as much as stones. Words have weight, too. Sure, we might not stay as sensitive to others’ remarks as we were in, say, junior high, but that doesn’t mean we can’t feel pain caused by words. A promise broken, a lie told, a trust betrayed – each involves words and can dent or even shatter our lives.

On the flip side, words can anchor us to good things, catapult us into greatness and change lives. Words like home, traditions, family, love (casa, tradiciones, familia, amor give context to our lives and – while we may feel that they weigh us down at times – they could also help keep our feet on the ground where we need to be. Many agree that these words play a big role in Latin American culture even in the 21st-century. Encouraging words can tip the scales and help us overcome our doubts. Who hasn’t been strengthened by a “Go for it!” or a “Great job!”? As one man put it, “Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” [1] Truly, the right word at the right time can change someone’s life.

So what is a well-said, well-timed word’s weight worth? An ancient proverb says, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.” [2] Gold and silver? Now that’s some valuable weight!

At Understanding the Guatemalan Patient, we want to help you know just the right words so that you can use them at just the right time. One pocket-sized book may weigh only 2.5 ounces, but with 600+ entries in the Spanish-English section alone, its worth far more than it’s weight in words. (And it won’t tip the luggage scale or overload your purse!)

[1] Napoleon Hill, (accessed 10 August 2015).

[2] Attributed to King Solomon, Proverbs 25:11, ESV.