👉 I’ve scheduled the very first One Word live event – “[Insert Title Here]: A Name-Your-Shit Wordshop” for JAN 21. I’ll be sending out a couple emails about it, I reckon. Don’t want to hear about it? No worries – just click here to opt out of info about this event. Consent’s so cool.
As in the refrain, “Oh, this really resonates with me!”
Each time I choose a word to re-examine in this series, it’s one that nips somehow at the back of my unconscious. It irks me in some way that I don’t understand … usually until I put it all down here.
Resonate has been one of those words for quite some time. You’ll never hear it issue from my lips, but also haven’t put my finger on WHY, exactly.
Generally, every word we look at here starts with me asking, ‘Why does this word make me feel [insert emotion here]?’
When I asked my colleagues, they didn’t sense anything strange at all. Re-Son – to sound again. Indeed, on the surface, its meaning presents itself as rather beautiful. A kind of supernatural echo, a connection across the deep aching gap between what we mean and what we say: That idea that sounded in you also sounds in me.
So why does this word bug me? Is this one a personal bias?
Hypothesis #1: Does it rely on a mixed metaphor? At first, I suspected it might be because the way we use resonate conflates the physical and emotional senses.
The word resonate, after all, is a word that originates to describe a property of physical, tangible, perceptible sound. Whereas we use it now to convey a deep emotional reverberation.
But as a music lover and creator (did y’all know I’ve been in a band for over 20 years?), I can’t see this giving me unconscious pause. Of course, sound and emotion – i.e. ‘makes your heart sing’ – are linked!
Hypothesis #2: Could it be part of a spiritual lexicon that feels uncomfortable to me? This possibility was more likely. Did resonate raise the same hairs for me as spiritualities that claim to operate at ‘higher frequencies?’
Yeah, maybe. But the influence of 70s-era spirituality and drug-informed vernacular gave us several phrases that don’t bother me. You may not catch me saying ‘good vibes,’ but it doesn’t make me flinch.
But in French, they use a different word
– rejoindre, (not résonner) -. and voilà!
Now I know what was bugging me about ‘resonate.’
I’ve been working on my first French-language ads campaign. And while researching the brand and prepping the copy, I came across a similar phrase.
The phrase in French was, ‘Si ça te rejoint … .’ If this meets you where you’re at right now … Rejoindre – to rejoin, to meet at the same point in space AND time.
I understood (and verified with a native Francophone just in case) the verb rejoindre was being used in the same way Anglophones use ‘resonate.’
And I love it SO much.
It’s the temporal and self-referential distinction in rejoindre that makes the difference for me. That meets me where I am right now.
With the English ‘resonate,’ we often think we’re saying, ‘Yeah, that sounds right.’ Or ‘That feels true.’
‘I’m picking up what you’re putting down.’
Resonate attempts to acknowledge, verify, and concretize
a shared – but experientially relative – truth.
But resonate, I believe, implies something much stronger. A deep emotional connection. An otherwise difficult-to-communicate (aka supernatural, spiritual) understanding of shared experience.
So it just feels like the wrong damn word to use to say we AGREE with something, ya’ know?
Like when folks say utilize instead of use (Why, god, why???).
While I’m of the opinion there’s never a reason to “utilize” anything, I’m sure there are perfectly good situations where “resonate” is the perfect word.
I just doubt that situation is your sales page.
That’s the word, nerd.