To finish the first day of a course recently I asked the participants to summarise in less than 20 seconds the most important thing they’d learnt, using some of the storytelling techniques we’d been working on.

One struck my attention for the content: “10 years of my life studying linguistics. From Degree to Doctorate level. Every word has value, none has more and none has less than any other. One day with Alan and what do I take away?: that the word ‘but’ is bad.”

How do you think I felt?

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