1. Devon
    Offline

    Devon Member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2007
    Messages:
    37
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Somewhere in the ether of my imagination

    The so-called 'dumbing-down' of society

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by Devon, Jan 12, 2007.

    Many times I have been told not to use larger words in my work. Why? Because people who read it don't understand them and have to look them up.

    Granted, a writer shouldn't go overboard with larger words that would bog down his piece and obstruct the flow. (Which I take great pains to avoid doing) However, wouldn't having a scattering of 'larger' words throughout the book in order to enhance it also enhance our readers' minds in the process?

    Don't we, when we are younger, learn larger and more sophisticated words through context and/or looking them up? Why should we not have to do that in our adulthood as well?

    Why are so many adults fixated on only knowing the words that they know, and feel that 'having to look something up' or discerning what a word means through context would somehow diminish their worth and the pleasure they should derive from reading a well-written piece?

    Some people are always happy to look up unfamiliar words they've encountered in books that they read. Wouldn't it be considered contributing to one's intelligence--and indicate a refusal to join the 'dumbing-down' of society--to do so?
     
  2. SeaBreeze
    Offline

    SeaBreeze Banned

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2006
    Messages:
    1,195
    Likes Received:
    17
    Location:
    At the bar
    I like larger words sometimes, it helps to break the story up a bit, makes it a little more interesting. Besides, I feel smart when I use big words.... even if I actually do have to look them up.... :D
     
  3. Robert
    Offline

    Robert Banned

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    190
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    UK
    I think the answer is that some people will enjoy it and some won't. Take John Banville for example, he uses unusual words and writes quite flowery prose. Some criticise him for it, but he has his fans.

    You have to understand that you can't please everyone, have faith in what you write, and satisfy your intended audience, whichever that may be.

    Cheers,
    Rob
     
  4. Spherical Time
    Offline

    Spherical Time Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2006
    Messages:
    363
    Likes Received:
    15
    Location:
    Everywhere, Always
    Most people understand more words than they use. I disagree with whomever gave you the advice to dumb down your work.

    Just make sure that you use the language that you're comfortable with. Don't add words just for the sake of long words, but if a ten letter word is appropriate, then use it.
     
  5. bicker
    Offline

    bicker Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2006
    Messages:
    138
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    brb, gone to the moon
    I. Likes. Easy. Words
     
  6. Mr Baatard
    Offline

    Mr Baatard Member

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2007
    Messages:
    46
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Where the wind comes sweeping down the plain
    I think using so-called big words is a public service.

    One of the reasons I read is to expand my vocabulary. I still remember the first ten-dollar word I learned by reading. It was parsimonious. I was actually excited that I had to go look it up. I remember the scene (a dinner date) but I don't quite recall the author. It might be Ralph Peters. The point is I definitely remember being challenged, and I appreciated it.

    I catch myself using words that my peers don't know. By my peers I should say other servicemembers. I was giving a class the other day, and I used the word impunity. Suddenly I was looking at a sea of vacant stares. On another occasion I used the word delineate. One of my soldiers confessed to me that although he could infer its meaning, he had never heard of that word until he heard me use it in a sentence!

    I don't go out of my way to use big words. My regular vocabulary is just exactly that. I use words I know the definition for both in my writing and my speech (although I can be terribly lazy in the latter). I'm comfortable with my vocabulary. It flows, at least for me.

    I would only dumb down my writing if it proved more effective for communicating a particular idea.
     
  7. Hellbent
    Offline

    Hellbent Senior Member

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2006
    Messages:
    120
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Wasilla, Alaska
    Now I only use uncommon words if it goes exactly with what I'm trying to explain or if I want the paragraph or scene to be poetic. But when I first strated writing I went out of my way to use big words.

    And one of my pet-peeves in writing is improper use of uncoommon words.
     
  8. Onoria Westhrop
    Offline

    Onoria Westhrop Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2006
    Messages:
    326
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    UK
    I'm a great believer in using the right word. I don't like to read something where the author is using long words just to sound clever. In addition the number of letters in a word has no connection to its difficulty. A good example of this is the names of plants - I like to use the correct names for plants and animals in my novels.
    The flip side of this is that we all write to be read; monologue is for the audience. I don't think that it is wise to deliberately confuse the reader just to show that you have a vocabulary.
    Conclusion: just use the right word for things.
     
  9. Fortis
    Offline

    Fortis Member

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2007
    Messages:
    32
    Likes Received:
    0
    I think that sometimes big words that people don't know can be quite easily understood just using logic.

    e.g. I took a bit into the chilli and my eyes started watering, it was very ergatunatory.

    (Note, I just made that word up then, But, you still know excactly what it means.)
     
  10. finnmaccool
    Offline

    finnmaccool Member

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2007
    Messages:
    46
    Likes Received:
    0
    THe words used in writing should depend totally on the kind of piece your writing.
     
  11. Onoria Westhrop
    Offline

    Onoria Westhrop Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2006
    Messages:
    326
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    UK
    "In olden days a glimpse of stocking
    was looked on as something shocking,
    but now god knows, anything goes,
    Good authors, too, who once knew better words,
    now only use four-letter words,
    writing prose. Anything goes!"

    Cole Porter said that a good sixty years ago - I think it's a timeless refrain for all you logophilic macroverbumsciolists!
     
  12. Hellbent
    Offline

    Hellbent Senior Member

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2006
    Messages:
    120
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Wasilla, Alaska
    now that's a smart word
     
  13. Eoz Eanj
    Offline

    Eoz Eanj Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2006
    Messages:
    2,208
    Likes Received:
    41
    What can I say?

    Some people love to read the dictionary

    Others don't.

    *eoz calls for her dictionary*
     

Share This Page