What’s going on when you say a word?
For the sake of a thought experiment, temporarily forget everything you know about language. I’m going to paint a picture of someone speaking to someone else:
A Message is Intended
Even before the first word, there exists a thought. A spark. Some message to convey. Whatever the launching point, there is something that you wish to verbally communicate.
Thoughts are gathered as you piece together a string of meanings from an index of strings of sounds with applied meaning (words). After you piece together your string of words, you should take a brief second to reflect on this statement before proceeding. This is to ensure that it correctly conveys your message and accomplished your communicative goal. This is called thinking before you speak, and is apparently optional, though I highly recommend it.
Vibrations Roll Out
Air expels from your chest sacs, squeezing through 2 membranes in your food tube (throat), producing vibrations. These vibrations carry over twisting tongue and moving lips, both of which we manipulate to modify the sound on it’s way out. We warp these sounds to mimic those stored in our brain’s index in hopes of the message being understood in a particular manor. In other words, we produce sounds that have meanings.
Vibrations Squeeze In
Human beings (and other critters) within range of the vibrations may detect them through two small drums made of skin. These skin drums vibrate 3 tiny bones that, in-turn, mechanically prod a fluid-filled, snail-looking membrane. That membrane then sends electrical signals to the brain thing.
The brain thing quickly digests these signals by referencing them against it’s own index of sounds & words, applying meaning to the words.
Furthermore, the brain strings these words together in to a larger understanding (sentence), and eventually determines meaning (subjective interpretation).
This is just one person speaking to another; This description is void of body language & visual queues, a language system and it’s respective rules, and 3rd party external sounds/stimulation. There is a lot going on here.
Technically speaking, saying & understanding a word is an impressive task. It’s simple for us because of our complex brain things which autopilots this task, combined with years of flexing our communicative muscles, so to speak (hardy har).
The better we can communicate, the better we co-exist. Communication is a cornerstone in every relationship, both personal & professional.
Vocabulary is one (of many) branch of knowledge that you should always strive to improve. Words are a tool of expression, and the more familiar you are with the tools, the better you can use them to express.