Basement Films: I Learned to Talk in Candyland

Sean Strain

Words have power in our society. Words can create images, senses, feelings, and ideas in our mind. When you hear the word McDonald’s, you probably see the golden arches, smell the odor of burgers, and hear that jingle in your head.

Words can also be misinterpreted or they can be taken the wrong way. This is especially problematic with verbal speech as we often have trouble communicating what we mean when put on the spot. This problem is one I know quite well and am embarrassed by when in conversation as my mouth cannot keep up with the speed of my brain.

I remember that I used to take speech classes when in elementary school. Every week, our class of three kids would meet, we would play a rule-revised Candyland, and they would tell me how put my tongue under my teeth so I could make a “th” sound.

The problems of verbal speech are also a major point in the movie, In The Loop, a British comedy that satirizes 21st century politics and the Iraq War. In the movie, the Prime Minister of Great Britain and President of the United States are planning to launch a war in the Middle East. The media records the Minister for International Development, Simon Foster, saying the probability of war is “unforeseeable” and later that the country needs to “climb the mountain of conflict”. Not only does this action anger the Prime Minister, but soon launches Foster into a complicated web of political intrigue between those who want war and those who are against it.

This is one example (although a comedic one filled with a lot of cursing) of how we can butcher our words or meaning, which is a struggle for many people. I may be able to say words that have a “th” sound, but I still have problems when speaking to others. Yet, I must be doing something right since people correct my grammar and pronunciation everyday. They had to have understood my meaning in the first place in order to correct me. I believe though that even they suffer from misinterpretation of speech and it is something we all have to work on if we ever want to be able to use the true power of words.