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  1. slockmn
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    slockmn New Member

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    Are some of my words too complex for my audience?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by slockmn, Dec 20, 2011.

    I'm writing a novel and I really like using my advanced vocabulary to put in some interesting words.

    But are some of my words too complex?

    I'm looking at the ages of about thirteen right though to adults and older citizens.

    Some of the advanced words I'm using are:

    Ecstatic, Transmogrification, Reviled, Intrepid, Sprawled and Dispersed.

    Are these types of words too advanced? Do I need to find some simpler synonyms?
     
  2. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    Those words aren't that advanced. I'm sure the average reader of Harry Potter has come up against more difficult.
     
  3. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    They are not too advanced. Your readers are not stupid; do not treat them as such.
     
  4. Quezacotl
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    Quezacotl Contributing Member

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    None of those words are particularly 'advanced'.

    The only time you need to worry about this is when you start using concepts from abstract sciences and college jargon.
    The time you want use a thesaurus is when you start using terms such as pulchritudinous, avolition, ectype, and hellion regularly.
     
  5. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Just use the words you want to use (if you can use them correctly). At worst, your reader will have to look a word up in a dictionary, and that's never a bad thing.

    I think most kids want to learn. If you give them a good story, they'll eagerly look up whatever they need to in order to understand it. Kids who read are intelligent, creative, curious. Don't sell them short. Give them whatever is the best you have and they'll eat it up and demand more. Don't dumb down your stuff by eliminating what you think are "advanced" words.
     
  6. the1
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    the1 Active Member

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    Those words are not advanced at all. I do not think your audience will find them any trouble at all :)
     
  7. Kallithrix
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    Kallithrix Banned

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    Agree with the consensus - they're not all that advanced. I probably knew those words (with the exception of transmogrification) by the time I left primary school at 11.

    Like Quezacotl said, the only vocab you really need to watch is either technical jargon or archaic and esoteric words. I got in trouble for using 'ubiquitous' once. I also get it in the neck for words like impugn and prolixity, lol
     
  8. lostinwebspace
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    lostinwebspace Active Member

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    I'd say the only one I would find complex is "transmogrification." The only reason I know what it means is it was used in a Calvin and Hobbes series of strips, but the average reader (who isn't on this site) might not know it, and if they do, they might appreciate a more familiar word, something that isn't quite a mouthful (mindful?). Opinion? Yes. Valid? Mmmmebbe.

    Also, Kallithrix, I don't see a problem with "impugn." Who rang your neck for that word?
     
  9. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    Who complained about those words? An editor, or a reader who simply didn't know them? I wouldn't bat an eye at ubiquity or impugn. I know prolixity without looking it up, but that one does look rather like a failed attempt to impress.
     
  10. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i have to agree that the examples shown [with the possible exception of 'transmogrification'] are not out of the ordinary for average folk in your target age range... based on that, your vocabulary doesn't seem at all 'advanced' to me, either, despite what you may like to think... so, just write your book and simply don't use words that are not relevant to the story, for the sole reason of wanting to sound smart, and there should be no problem...
     
  11. Kallithrix
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    Kallithrix Banned

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    Actually, an English lit professor at my uni! They cited that, along with a few other examples of my better than average vocabularly, to try and accuse me of plagiarism, because 'it was too advanced for a first year lit student'. WTF??? I challenged them to find exactly what I'd plagiarised, and in the end they admitted that ok, maybe I'm just bright. LOL
     
  12. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I got the same from a fifth-grade teacher I once had. I wrote a book report and she thought I must have plagiarized it because my vocabulary was far above what she expected from a fifth grader. I guess she didn't realize that I had already been reading books from my dad's shelves for a couple of years and I was comfortable using an adult's vocabulary.

    Kids are brighter than people realize. Challenge them, and they'll rise to meet the challenge. Please don't dumb your work down to what you may think is their level.
     
  13. Yoshiko
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    Yoshiko Contributing Member Contributor

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    I would only consider one of them difficult, but not advanced, and that would be "transmogrification". Two of them ("reviled" and "intrepid") probably don't come up in daily conversation but they're not exactly rare. Three of them ("ecstatic", "sprawled" and "dispersed") come up in regular conversation for me; I'm certain all three came up while I was talking with a friend this afternoon - and our levels of English vocab are entirely different! (For the record, English is only one of three languages I use on a regular basis.)

    Note that no matter what words you choose to use the reader will often be able to assume the meaning from the words/sentences around it.
     
  14. joanna
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    joanna Active Member

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    I also think those words are acceptable but that transmogrification is a difficult one.

    The average reader will not want to consult a dictionary to understand your story. They will, however, want to decipher a word's meaning by the context in which it is written. And most of us can do that.
     
  15. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Am I the only one that thinks that transmogrify almost provides its own definition, at least when it's presented with any context at all? It's not as if I ever studied Latin or anything, but it seems almost intuitively understandable. Am I crazy?
     
  16. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    That's funny. I've used a variant of the word transmogrification - "transmogrify" in one of my works. It never occurred to me that it would be considered advanced voacabulary. And, so, ChickenFreak, no, you are not the only one who thinks it provides its own definition.
     
  17. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I agree with lostinwebspace. "Transmogrify", or variants, appeared in the Calvin and Hobbes strips, and Calvin was portrayed as a six-year-old. A very bright and imaginative six-year-old, to be sure, but a six-year-old. While it's true that most six-year-olds don't habitually use that word, a bright and curious six-year-old might just grab it and fly with it, just because it's fun.

    So, yeah, it's a weird word, but kids love weird words. Go ahead and use it.
     
  18. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    No. I am in complete agreement.
     
  19. Baba Yaga
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    I work for a woman who told me to take the word 'creature' out of a script because she couldn't understand it. She actually asked me what cree-at-yur meant. Unless you're writing for her, I'd say those words are safe.

    Don't ever dumb down your work. You wont enjoy it and your readers wont appreciate it.
     
  20. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    And I know a guy who told his (ex) girlfriend that he had gotten into a verbal altercation with his boss. She accused him of using big words trying to make other people feel stupid! He asked me, "So what could I have used instead of altercation? Argument?"
    "No," I told him, "still too big."
    "Then what?" he wondered. "Maybe disagreement?"
    "Four syllables again, sweetie. She still wouldn't get it."
    Yes. She is a blond, but I really thought she was smarter than that!
    Don't worry about the random lunatic in the midst. There's always going to be someone who doesn't know what 'ecstatic'. They can go to the dictionary. It may even improve their vocabulary!

    Baba Yaga, you should have told your boss it referred to a particular breed of Indian, Cree, and their particular location. "Baba Yaga, there is a Cree at your door!" (Heaven guard us from the illiterati!)
     
  21. Ettina
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    Ettina Active Member

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    Even if you use a word your readers don't know, they can guess at it's meaning from context. Let's say your reader doesn't know what 'transmogrification' means, and your young mage student is heading into transmogrification class. There, he practices several spells that all involve turning something into something else. Most kids would be able to guess from that that transmogrification means turning something into something else. (Incidentally, I think this particular example happened in Harry Potter. Doesn't he have a transmogrification class?)

    Or ecstatic. Imagine a character saying 'I was so ecstatic when that happened. It was everything I ever dreamed of.' While bouncing up and down with excitement. And maybe it's an event that this character has already been shown to be eagerly anticipating, or that most people would enjoy quite a lot. Chances are, your reader will get the sense that ecstatic means happy.

    It's only when you have several words the reader doesn't understand, all in short succession, that they might have trouble, because then they can't get enough context to figure those words out.
     
  22. Kallithrix
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    Kallithrix Banned

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    No, Harry Potter has 'transfiguration' class - transfigure is the word I would use in preference. Transmogrify is 'a perversion of transmigure, from transmigrate, perhaps influenced by modify.'

    I think transfigure is a far more elegant sounding word :)
     
  23. digitig
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    More elegance isn't always what's required, though, which is probably why Bill Watterson had Calvin invent a transmogrifier rather than a transfigurer. Besides, "transfigure" and "transmogrify" are not synonyms; "transfigure" only applies to outward appearance, "transmogrify" can apply to the entire entity. "Transform", "transmute" and "metamorphose" are closer synonyms to transmogrify.
     
  24. Blood'N'Shadow
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    Blood'N'Shadow New Member

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    Those words are okay. They're not that complicated to understand. It's okay. Have a nice day!
     
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