Words are sounds.  Sounds are gestures.  Gestures get inside.  For the full power of words, every letter of every word is to be enunciated, for every letter can get inside and do its work.  Every sound is a gesture.  Listen to the Ulla poems here and see how words affect the heart chamber – not so much what they “mean” as what they do.

For more particulars on this topic, here is an except from the chapter called “Gesture” in Everything Is a Verb.

So many words do what they say.  Piano—you hit that p!  Violin—how the V is struck!  Flute—you blow through that F!  Trombone—your lips retract in, then slide out!  Drum—hit it with the D for the reverb in the M.  Soothing sounds are the “liquids:”  m, n, l.  No wonder we sing lullabies to baby.   Repel with the plosives:  p b k and the guttural g:  Push it away.  Kick it.  Bounce.  Get going.  Just to say ‘Pickle’ makes you crinkle your nose at its sourness.  The word ‘globe’ makes you form a sphere of your inner mouth.  The “L” sound in table pushes air out both sides of your tongue to be level, like table.   The word “yes” makes you smile.  “Oui!”  Oui, that French word smiles you, too.  The word “no” creates a scowl.  The Russian “Nyet” not only scowls, it expresses a little disgust.  The word “Hi” opens—it almost opens your eyes along with your oral cavity!   Why do you think we say to say “Cheese” before the camera clicks?  It happens to make us smile!  But cheese is not fromage, so the French photographer, perhaps, says to say, “Oui.”  The sound of sizzle actually sizzles on your teeth.  The moon is full.  A peanut has the tininess of eeee in it.  A whale makes a whale of an opening.   And who hasn’t noticed that the venerable ‘fuck’ sounds just like fucking.  Words are extraordinary when we see what they do as gestures as well as what they mean.  Each word is an action.

Of course there are exceptions:  kiss, hammer, fire, horse, crayon, iron.  Who can make gesture sense of those?  But it is more fun to find the correspondences than the exceptions.  For the actor, this exploration and exercise is the frosting on the cake, but even for the ordinary talker, to grasp the power of gesture is to be more complete.

Words are actions.  Sounds are gestures.  Communication is to push something from here to there and to pull in the “out there” to the “in here”.  Things move.  They are action.  Sounds are, for our purposes, all verbs.

To listen to more here, go to PoWoms or to Ulla Poems right here.