Words Cannot Express

How many times do we hear the phrase, “Words cannot express” or, “If only I had the words…”?

The complexity of the human situation challenges the fact that the purpose of words is to express this complexity. Every time we say the above phrase, we are not  giving testimony to our depth, but to our frustration in not being able to utilize the language for its very purpose.

The obligation of writers is to utilize every linguistic mechanism available in service to the expression of the human condition. Expression may be all that is due from us; others have the responsibility to use our work in their own  arenas of endeavor. Writers, therefore, have the opportunity to better the human condition in ways they may never imagine.

One never knows who will read your writing or how it will impact the reader. Write to the best of your ability,  and revise, revise, revise.  If you want to call yourself a writer, know that what you write is important, not by virtue of the fact that you wrote it but because it meant so much to you that you felt compelled to share it with people you will never meet.

 

 
 
 

13 responses

  1. Thanks for reading and commenting on this. I’m surprised more people have not done so. Words can, indeed, express. Witness all of our blogs. Witness the major books througout human history that have influenced humankind. I, too, never want to say, “Words cannot express.”

  2. There are times when words cannot express, or when words cannot fully express, because within that time and space there are no words, there is the silence, there is something more than words can convey.

    Like those times when it’s said “An angel just came through.” These are times when even when no one is speaking, and the usual household sounds disappear. There is silence … soundlessness, wordlessness.

    Sometimes, it isn’t necessarily that you couldn’t write it … or write it later. It’s simply that when you place words to a thing or experience, the words become a framework, in a sense a boundary in their description of what you are trying to convey.

    Sometimes the best description, the best conveyance is to draw near, but let it be as it is without words.

    It draws out in its own time, words come when it’s time. So during the midst of, there are no words.

  3. You are right, Susan. When I wrote this post, I hadn’t yet discovered that words sometimes limit expression by erecting a boundary around a boundless subject.

    Then my father died. It’s been nearly a year, and I have not been able to write about it in any depth. The grief of losing someone as dear as a wonderful father cannot be expressed in words.

    However, I may try to write about it, piecemeal, bit by bit, the only way such an event can be written. I don’t know.

  4. salam for all here
    its realy a very soft warm expression when we say words can,t express the real feelings . as susan said the silence will control on every thing and you feel that the time stopped and every thing is calm .and this is the most expression we can feel in that time and its the most great one ! you will feel yr self in a unexpected pleasureand wormth and happiness or sadness .that depends on the situation that we are passing in in that moment.and i think its the right thing to just listen and dream or think or go to the space in your mind to feel the needed feeling to the unlimeted .

  5. I just happened across this. I feel that despite trying to gain the skills to express things with words, there are moments, situations, or feelings that just end up being too shallow if expressed in words. That is my understanding of the phrase “words cannot express.”

    Just my thought.

  6. Welcome, flameshaft, and thank you for your comment! I had to smile– the expression “words cannot express” lends itself to convoluted thinking. You say that feelings “… just end up being too shallow if expressed in words,” but I say that the feelings themselves do not become shallow; rather, they are rendered shallow because the writer has not found the exact words with which to express those feelings.

    I know, I know, you meant that certain feelings are beyond words, that they can never be rendered whole by words alone. Certainly, I have had that conviction at times.

    Whether it’s is true or not, I do not know, but the writer’s responsibility is to dig as deeply and broadly as he/she can to render those complex feelings as accurately as possible. It’s a task that does not end, nor should it end. One gets better with time and effort.

  7. There is a word that mans unable to express in words; I remember looking it up but forgot the word. I have a word journal but apparently it did not get into it. What is it?

  8. I think it is more accurate to say “I cannot express” or some variation. As soon as I read the words “words cannot express” I stop reading; if I hear the words, I stop listening. If “words cannot express” then you should remain silent. The very act of writing or speaking means that words _can_ express. Maybe not as eloquently as you’d like — but they do in fact express — they express you.

  9. Thank you, Freda, for your comment. Yes– to say, “I cannot express,” is more accurate than to say, “Words cannot express,” but is it possible that some people experience a depth and complexity of emotion that really cannot be expressed in words? I don’t know. All I know is that we have the obligation to use words as best we can because they do express ourselves.

    Eloquence no longer holds the respect it deserves. I wish our schools would reclaim it as one of the most useful skills a person can develop.

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