Death by Words


            In Mark Twain’s humorous tale, Roughing It, the main character travels across country by stage coach and meets a passenger unacquainted with the conversational pause. Lamenting his misfortune, the main character says “The fountains of her great deep were opened up, and she rained the nine parts of speech, forty days and forty nights, metaphorically speaking, and buried us under a desolating deluge of trivial gossip.”

            Not all verbosity achieves the biblical status Twain attributes to this fictional woman. Still, less skillful chatterers sometimes force their prey to feign the flu or other temporary illnesses, anything to avoid death by words. Even the distant whine of a verbose person’s voice pumps enough adrenaline through veins to send us sprinting for cover.  Windy wonders suck oxygen from conversational circles but no one has yet indicted one for murder. That doesn’t mean that wordiness doesn’t kill.

             Wordiness kills good conversation. Marathon talkers hi-jack good conversations and fly them to subjects only they have knowledge of.

            Wordiness kills potential friendships. Bonds develop during the pauses after sentences. That’s when others speak and we listen. As they talk, we discover their talents, loves, histories and styles.

[ Job Answers God ] [ I’m Ready to Shut Up and Listen ] Job answered: “I’m speechless, in awe—words fail me. I should never have opened my mouth! I’ve talked too much, way too much. I’m ready to shut up and listen.” (Job 40:3 The Message)


About rosemccormickbrandon

An award winning personal experience writer, Rose McCormick Brandon is a frequent contributor to faith magazines, devotionals and compilations, including Chicken Soup for the Soul. Rose is the author of Promises of Home: Stories of Canada's British Home Children (2014). One Good Word Makes all the Difference (2013), He Loves Me Not, He Loves Me (2012) and Vanished: What Happened to My Son. She's a frequent contributor to The Testimony, Today's Pentecostal Evangel and other faith magazines in Canada, U.S. and Australia. Rose also writes about Canadian history, specifically the era of Child Immigration from Britain. Read her stories of child immigrants at:
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2 Responses to Death by Words

  1. Mary Lucchetti says:

    I LOVED this on death by words! Brilliant. So so true.

  2. vanyieck says:

    It’s like a saying I heard down south. “Talk slow and don’t say too much.” It’s very true.

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