how to read text from the mac clipboard

Is there a way for applescript to get at the text contents of a that has been manually created (with a word processor or other text program) or even better, can applescript control MS word in such a way as to do this?

Thanks for any help!

set x to (the clipboard)

works perfectly!

from your answer I also figured that applescript can set the clipboard by:

set the clipboard to “yippee”

thanks for the quick answers!