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Saturday, January 21, 2012

words, big

i love words. i've always been interested in learning and expanding my vocabulary. it would seem to follow, then, that my writing, my discourse would be infused with lots of impressive lexical utterances. but that doesn't follow because, while yes i heart words, i also love THE LANGUAGE OF NATURAL THOUGHT. and, thus, i only use grad-school-y type of words when they fit naturally within the sentence, when they serve the broader goal of clarity and force and concision. my advice for young writers is this: develop your vocabulary, but not at the expense of your prose's readability. a big word is awesome, but only because it trims the fat: the bigger the word, the more little words and modifiers it "sums" up/contains/embodies. this is somewhat of a tricky point to grasp, so let it linger in your mind before giving it a final "yeah, he is TOTALLY right (or wrong!)!" for now (jesus, how condescending do i sound right now?!?), just try and notice how the fancier the word, the less it has a one-to-one synonym with another word (EXCEPTIONS GRANTED). and that's the kicker: we use big words to preserve a forward flow, to (paradoxically) heed the less-is-more principle. instead of lots of little words that accrete into a big idea, we can use a big word that operates as a verbal container for all those little words. (now for some aspirin.)

1 comment:

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