Last night I attended Mary Poppins the musical, and there was this poignant moment right before Mary Poppins bursts out into song, when she is with Jane and Michael at the conversation shop purchasing some letters to make their words…
Jane and Michael create their words, simple enough, then Mary creates hers:
But that’s not a word! They say to her.
Well, why not!? Mary replies.
She asks them, who’s to say what is a word and what isn’t. Where do words come from? Someone has to have made them up at some point, right?
It got me thinking more about the origin of words, and how the meanings of words change overtime or expand to encompass more and more meanings in different contexts. The problem with creating brand new words is that they run the risk of being lonely words, only leaving a few mouths, sounding like gibberish to others, but if these new words or new meanings for old words are shared they can do a lot of things, travel, inspire, teach, change.
Take the musical, Mary Poppins for example, it appeals to children and adults alike they learn from its songs and its messages and its words. When we chalk words, we are distributing them in public spaces in a way that appeals to children and makes them ask their parents what is that picture or what does that word mean…
We set up are shop just like the conversation shop in Mary Poppins, only our letters and words are not blocks made of wood they are made of chalk, and they’re free!!