2015-04-23 / Opinion

The Power of Words

What’s in a word?

Plenty, especially words well chosen.

Of course, we make a living here with words. Week after week, words are, hopefully, ours and our readers’ best friends. In one issue or another they may tell of harmony or political discord. Or, they may relate richly rewarding tales of the nice things that people do for each other on Aquidneck Island, and sometimes well beyond.

Words can be powerful but simple—such as “hot,” “cold,” “long,” or “short.” They can also be somewhat more complicated— “obfuscating,” for example, or “somnambulist.” More on these later.

We mention the latter because last Jan. 8, Newport This Week launched “Word of the Week,” using “somnambulist” as the inaugural challenge. Readers are challenged to be the 25th emailer to correctly define the word and tell us where in the newspaper it appears. Winners receive a $25 gift certificate to one of several participating local restaurants.

The response has been enthusiastic. Each week brings scores of email responders to the challenge. We’ve especially enjoyed hearing from families whose notes describe searching the paper for the weekly word with their children. The youngsters, we hope, will embrace the experience and grow into regular adult readers of this and other newspapers.

Then there are the office workers who described taking four papers from the newsstand at lunchtime and then competing to see who could find that week’s word first. Or, the out-of-town winner who works on the Island but grabs the paper each week to help find activities for her elderly mother, a Newport resident.

Some readers, we’re told, rush to be first, even though the weekly prize goes to the 25th email responder. We acknowledge the first three responders in the following week’s issue.

The hebdomadal word can show up almost anywhere in the paper. They’ve appeared in the Faith Community Bulletin Board, the nature column, the front page, this editorial space and even in an advertisement or two.

In an era when technological advances are said to pose an increasing threat to traditional newspapers, it heartens us to see readers so engaged with Newport This Week (Of course, like most other papers we also publish an electronic version of the newspaper. As they say, you can never be too careful or too rooted in the past).

We’d like to thank the several restaurants that have supplied gift certificates for winners of our popular contest—Coddington Brewing Company, Diego’s, LaForge Casino and Mama Leone’s.

Finally, in case you missed these earlier “Words of the Week” and their meanings: a “somnambulist” is a sleepwalker who performs activities that one must normally be fully awake to accomplish.

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