Thursday, June 9, 2011
Why all the big words? Are you trying to impress us?
No, I'm actually showing you respect. Let me explain.
I like to read. I enjoy good writing, like the prose regularly appearing in The New Yorker and Harper's Magazine. When you read good writing, you are exposed to and absorb a wider vocabulary. Many obscure words have shades of meaning that simpler synonyms lack. Once more precise words are planted in your mind, they germinate and bloom. Then, when you think, your mind uses words more accurate and descriptive than simpler ones. Such words also add color and vibrancy to our exchanges.
I think in words belonging to my personal vocabulary and that sometimes includes uncommon language. When I communicate, I express my thoughts using the words in my mind. My goal, at all times, is precision. I want to communicate lucidly and my word-selection aims at that goal.
Sometimes, of course, I deal with people whom I suspect won't understand certain words because of their probable lack of exposure to that language. In those instances, I reluctantly replace the words in my mind with simpler terms. I don't like to do that, but being understood by others is more important than being precise.
When I write on this blog, I give you the unvarnished contents of my thoughts. I don't dumb it down. By using my own words, I'm showing you respect -- I'm saying I believe you can grasp the meaning of my words and I want to you see my ideas in their greatest efflorescence.
There's a word for people who think in simple terms and then replace those words with fancier language to impress others -- that word is pretentious. I hope you never view me as such.