I dedicate this to my family, friends, and the Swiss government, for their help and support freely given and gratefully received.
Maybe the best way to preface this manual is by explaining why no other writing has challenged me more and taken me longer.
The reason it took so long is when I looked for a guide to words for myself, I found it hadn’t been written yet difficult to believe because, if true, it meant I had to write it myself. At the time, I had other plans.
Doesn’t everybody, every day use words? Or have I overlooked something? Leaving no stone unturned, it turns out I hadn’t overlooked anything major which, therefore, left only two options: Start writing and quitting.
Writing about words with words challenged me beyond imagination. Quitting wasn’t an option but came with a price: Behind every horizon, there is always more to see, not at once, but in small doses, and everybody knows…
“All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.”
– Arthur Schopenhauer
Having hit that milestone time and again, I’m over the moon, and honored, to share my best work ever with you now.
How to get maximum value from this manual
Here are three things you can do to make this user manual an interactive, on-going learning experience.
- Accept words as they are.
It takes replacing an old habit with a new one and everybody knows how hard that can be. I can assure you, once you get rid of the notion that words could be something else, you acquire a great many wonderful new freedoms.
- Expect resistance initially.
Do what it takes to overcome the resistance, if any, because in the long run, not accepting words as they are, will hurt you infinitely worse than trusting your eyes now.
- Enjoy the journey.
Relax. Not a single word here is new. To get maximum value from this manual, keep in mind a fresh perspective doesn’t change you, but only how you look at words.
Why a user’s manual for, of all things, words?
Doesn’t everybody know all there is to know about words from years at school already?
Well, I invite you to look at words as an alien would, with fresh eyes, because with fresh eyes, even familiar words can give you that feeling of traveling by train, where new landscapes unfold that everybody knows have been there all along, the unfolding is you.
The heart of the matter
Your heart may be dancing, trembling, aching, pounding, torn, or breaking, simply because there is precious little a heart cannot do. But what when the heart is just beating away quietly, doing its job? Then we tend to ignore it and take it for granted, don’t we?
Years of research have led me to conclude we respond to words in similar ways. As long as they keep quiet, we take them for granted. Nevertheless, the heart of the matter is that words, not hearts, are why we are here and the wordless aren’t.
Then as now
Then as now…
… world is a word, hence to each their own.
What have words got to do with it? Well, all kinds of things are being said, depending on who is saying them. And what to believe remains what it’s always been, a question of character and personal preference, to each their own.
Fact is, words have changed the world before.
Can they do it again? Or is it all up to you?
You be the judge.
Of the world’s great composers, the least sung about and most overlooked is the one without which there wouldn’t be any.
I believe that is wrong.
I want it changed.
That is why I wrote this guide.
One has become three
I’m not suggesting it ought to be sung about. All I’m saying is let’s give words a chance.
Words was originally a 1-book idea, but it outgrew itself and I decided to divide it into three. However, all three are part of the same vision: The vision of words taught at school.
- THE WORD USER’S MANUAL – what words are, do, and have now.
- THE STORY OF WORDS – how words came about.
- THE YOU USER’S MANUAL – who words exist for in the first place.
What is in it for you
“If words control you means everyone else can control you.”
– Bruce Lee
Designed as a cup with a handle, for immediate practical application, the focus throughout this manual is on down to Earth.
Additional benefits are later in this guide, in a section on their own.
Nothing is true until it is believed.
With more truths than anyone can handle, many feel there are no truths left to believe in. It can be a struggle, and a fresh perspective can come from an unlikely source, in fact, they often do, and usually from without.
It hasn’t always been easy. In 2012, I had come to the end of the line. My prospects looked bleak and the future dark, but that wasn’t the worst part. The worst part was I didn’t understand why. Why me?
When your only options are get over it or be capsized, you work hard to clarify your thinking and make it simple. It took me years, and here to tell not only it is worth every calorie and minute, but also that this manual can help you get there, if so inclined, with greater speed than I.
Hang tight, we’re getting there. Just one more thing before getting started.
Terms and abbreviations
The terms and abbreviations in this manual include the following.
Before Words, or BW, for the time before words, and After Words, or AW, for the time since.
Wordless for what is also known as evolution, nature, or the wild, that is, everything.
Wordy for the word-users, commonly known as people, persons, humans, mankind, homo sapiens, personnel, and human resources.
Earth-Time for the 4.65 billion years between the birth of Earth and the year 2021.
Which language to write the manual in was a no-brainer. But which – the Irish, Scottish, English, Canadian, or USA English, to name a few – I couldn’t decide. I love them all! For these and other reasons as well, I opted for Swinglish, a mix of Swiss and English, all of them rolled into one.