Writing tips: Find Just The Right Word When You Write A Letter, Note Or Email

Learning To Communicate Effectively: Lessons From Great Poets And An Irish Joke

by Bill Funchion, Waubonsee Community College, Sugar Grove, IL

A woman told me recently that she had a difficult time trying to understand the death of her young brother. She wondered what was death.

Emily Dickinson in her poem “Parting” explained it in six words,

“So huge, so hopeless to conceive.”

The great poets combine many things, including sound, rhythm, economy, and the two things that will make you immortal: imagery and emotion. They also put the right word in the right place.

“Begin” and “start” are synonyms but we do not say “I will begin the car.” We say “I will start the car.”

Take the words “complete” and “finished.”

An old Irish joke, with perhaps a hidden truth, goes like this:

If a man marries the right woman he is complete.

If he marries the wrong woman he is finished.

If the right woman finds him with the wrong woman, he is completely finished.

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