In her short book Teaching a Stone to Talk, Annie Dillard comments that words, some words, bring us back to reality, waking us from sleep. The people who use those words catch us asleep or ‘dead and gone and grieving’ and become, as it were, alarm clocks rousing us from our slumber.
She writes, “The mind—the culture—has two little tools, grammar and lexicon: a decorated sand bucket and a matching shovel. With these we bluster about the continents and do all the world’s work. With these we try to save our very lives.” (Annie Dillard, Teaching a Stone to Talk 24).