Evocative Vocabulary

One of our greatest writers is the poet, Edgar Allen Poe, who could use words to conjure up pictures in our mind, so that we might never forget them. His most famous poem was “The Raven,” that begins “Once upon a midnight dreary . . .”

His words were so powerful that one of our most dynamic NFL teams took his title for their name, The Baltimore Ravens. Poe lived for some time in Baltimore and is now buried there.

Whether we speak or write, we are judged by our vocabulary. Words should be chosen to excite the mind. Words can decrease stress and bring a new focus to the reader or listener, along with a feeling of well being. Words have sounds and like music they are processed by the brain when heard or read. Original word sounds were used in chanting in various countries. Chanting can cause emotion and suggest ideas to the one chanting or the one listening.

In written English, there are 5 vowels and 21 consonants. But in spoken English, there are 21 vowels sounds and 24 consonants. The goal of vocabulary is to have a profound effect in a short period of time. However, if we talk or sing too much, it is unhealthy, because we alter our breathing pattern and less oxygen goes to the brain and heart. 

Because of time-constraints, one the most important parts of speech or writing is the verb. Verbs can have an active voice to indicate powerful acts of the subject. Action verbs in the business world include:

verify      perform      fulfill         send hire       succeed     leave      receive  accept     improve     develop     

Linking verbs include forms of the words, “To be” seem, become, appear, prove, look, remain, feel, taste, smell, sound, resemble, turn, and grow.

Some intransitive verbs are complete: won (we won), dropped (prices dropped).

Others are intransitive and need complements like lie (past tense is lay), sit, rise.

Transitive verbs need a receiver: lay (past tense is laid), set, raise  The voices of verbs: Active, to describe direct action or Passive to express or take attention away from self.

The moods of verbs:

Indicative Mood: make statements or ask questions 

Imperative mood: to command or make a request

Subjunctive mood: express doubt, wish, suggestion, or condition contrary to facts, or request.

The American poet Poe expressed word usage in his “Philosophy of Composition.” One of these was the sound of words with the long vowel “O”.

These words are described as acoustic, because one has to open the mouth for resonance. “O” was first used by the Egyptians to symbolize the eyes or mouth. It is the 15th letter of the English alphabet and the 4th most used letter.  Another form of “O” is defined by the letter r, as in the long vowel sound in words like door, more, and explore.

Poe knows negative words are powerful like short vowel sounds in sorrow, terror, and borrow. Shakespeare wrote about many tragedies in life brought about by words that are, “Poison in the Ear.” This happens when some one tells a lie about you which can lead to defamation of character, or cause you to act irrationally, like his hero Othello, did.

Words for electrifying the mind in our business world include profound, tantamount, paramount, surmount, confound.  Others strong words are impeccable, succinct, lovely, expeditious, immensely. Notice that the adverbs

next to some words are also powerful.  It is important to stay positive in all our communications.


Courtland, L.Bovee and John Thill. Business Communication, 9th Edit, New Jersey, Pearson Prentice Hall. 2008 (Business Course at Florida International University, Miami Florida 2007).


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