We are a linguistically focused society – we frame thoughts in words more naturally than anything else, for the most part, and the specific words that we use often further defines and alters those thoughts. Apparently there’s a whole theory around this called the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, which looks at linguistic relativity and determination, ‘strong’ words vs ‘weak’ words, and a whole bunch of other stuff. Interestingly, they also link it into the idea of a universal base language:
But to restrict thinking to the patterns merely of English […] is to lose a power of thought which, once lost, can never be regained. It is the ‘plainest’ English which contains the greatest number of unconscious assumptions about nature. […] We handle even our plain English with much greater effect if we direct it from the vantage point of a multilingual awareness.
As writers we’re very aware that finding the correct word is vitally important. It can significantly affect the response of the reader to a character or world, or even the inclination to pick up the book at all. Some words call to people and some push them away. It’s one of the reasons titles are so important. So many words have a hundred associations (‘vampire’ being an excellent example) which will naturally colour the response to any sentence with that word in. It’s not just language, it’s all the emotions and past experiences and prejudices bound up in that language. Which is amazing, when you think about it. You can create incredible depth with just a few words, because of everything those words bring with them. Provided they’re the right words.