Mastery of language is indeed a powerful tool. This is especially true when the speakers hail from the same cultural background, and can make use of all those subtleties that would be lost on the non-native. This point is brilliantly illustrated by an anecdote told about Ali Ibn Munqidh, who became emir of the district of Shaizar in northern Syria in 1081. His surname was Sadid al-Mulk, and this is how I will refer to him in this article. We will see that words effectively deployed can literally save lives. This story is adapted from Ibn Khallikan’s short biographical sketch of Sadid al-Mulk.