Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Would vs. Will

Greg and Sharon are having a conversation about suicide.

Greg: Why would you be so upset if I killed myself?

Sharon: Because I like you so much. You make me laugh and smile.  You mean so very much to me.

Greg: Eh, you're a strong woman.  You'll get over it.

The wording here is very subtle, but very powerful.  The conversation begins hypothetically; Greg uses "would".  Sharon then responds to that hypothetical situation honestly.  She does not use "would" because her answer is not hypothetical; she legitimately likes Greg in the present. After that, Greg says the she will get over it, not that she would get over it.  This indicates a certainty in the future.  In this one word (and technically, it wasn't even the full word since it was a contraction), Greg has said that his mind has been made.

The most frustrating aspect of language is the vast amount of nuance within them.  Denotations and connotations and implications and suggestions are part of every word and sentence, and even when we aren't actively conscious of them, we are still aware of and affected by them.

Consider your words carefully.  When I talk about being concise, this is the kind of thing I mean.  When you can choose a single word that explains a shift in emotion, explains a sentiment, and declares an intent, you have a very concise sentence, and a very powerful one.  It's a sentence worthy of poetry when you can be that concise.

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