1. doggiedude
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    doggiedude Contributing Member

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    Unusual words you only see in books.

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by doggiedude, May 22, 2016.

    A few months ago I started a thread about over-used words. This time, I wanted to ask if there were any words that you frequently see in novels but almost never hear people using them in conversation. For me, I began noticing that almost every book I read had the word - "rivulet" in it. I don't think I've ever heard someone say that in normal conversation. Now every time I run across that word it jumps out at me. I even made sure I could use rivulet in my WIP just for the hell of it.
     
  2. SethLoki
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    SethLoki Unemployed Autodidact Contributor

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    hmmm, that word's in a piece of mine. If I use a rare word (that I like) I attempt to covertly educate the reader by overcooking the context. Get a bit pithy like:

    ...welling in a small hollow; pooling, whelming, brimming till they spill over and erode its lip. Journeying on as one, amassed as a tiny stream, a rivulet now, that flows and throws its vanguard down, downward, collecting silt...

    Rivulet stand out in the above?
     
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  3. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    No I have yet to see that word period, but it does help me with a line in an old piece I was working on some 12 years ago. :supergrin:It helps to describe the sex scene between a demon and a woman. Though for the sake of things I will only post the line that it is in.:supergrin:


    Claws digging into her backside, small rivulets of blood began to flow.
     
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  4. izzybot
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    izzybot Human Disaster Contributor

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    I can't say I've noticed this, but then I get to hang out with a lot of word nerds and general dorks and there's not really any word that would be a surprise coming out of their mouths.

    On the other hand, glancing over the thing I'm supposed to be working on right now, I came across 'brandishing' in the second paragraph, and I can't off the top of my head think of anyone ever using it irl (except maybe me). I wouldn't say it's unusual, really, just not very common? A little further on I found 'parse' but I actually hear that relatively often from my developer friends, hahah.
     
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  5. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    Index
     
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  6. Mikmaxs
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    Mikmaxs Active Member

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    It's a very clinical word. If I hear it spoken aloud, it's usually on a procedural investigation show or an episode of Judge Judy, because it's not something that comes up often in normal conversation. That's not because it's a weird word, it's just because people don't brandish things very often in real life.
     
  7. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I have often used 'brandishing' in conversation. It's a great word to describe somebody coming at you in an emphatic manner waving a piece of machinery, a tool or weapon. They're either planning to use it, come hell or high water, or they're emphasising a point.

    He came at me, brandishing a broom. I took the hint and scuttled out of his way.

    She brandished her copy of the Webster's Third International, so everybody would know where her answer came from.
     
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  8. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    "Shall". At least in dialogue, it always jumps out and sounds book-ish to me.

    There may be some regional variation, but where I'm from, no teen would say "Shall we forget about this" unless they were jokingly trying to sound posh. But I see that sort of dialogue in books quite often.
     
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  9. newjerseyrunner
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    newjerseyrunner Contributing Member

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    "The kids talked amongst themselves whilst Dad was busy."

    In conversation, most people would say among and while.
     
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  10. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Cyclopean.
     
  11. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Ersatz. Never once in real life conversation have I come across that word.
     
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  12. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    A favorite of Philip K. Dick :)
     
  13. Lew
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    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    and
    @janner and @Tenderiser would disagree. That is a common British usage, often more common in day to to day speech than the American style
     
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  14. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Seriously? My husband uses that word a lot. Maybe it's a Scottish thing, meaning 'fake' or makeshift.
     
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  15. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I say "amongst." I don't say "whilst," however.
     
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  16. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Yep, that's the meaning. But I've never heard anyone say it, either. Could well be a Scottish thing.
     
  17. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Yep, I know what it means, just never come across it in conversational speech, or in even more elevated registers of speech, like when I'm at work.
     
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  18. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

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    Same.
     
  19. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I've heard quite a few people say 'amongst' here in the UK— I finally found the blue button in amongst the others. It's nearly always 'in amongst' meaning it's mixed in with similar items. However, 'whilst' is less common—although I've certainly heard it said out loud.

    As a writer who spent the first 37 years of her life in the USA, I can't see myself writing these words in a piece of fiction, though. I've certainly heard them spoken and have said 'amongst' myself, in the context above—but they wouldn't trip off the ends of my typing fingers. Bizarre....
     
  20. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    What would you say instead?
     
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  21. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

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    I don't think I've heard OR read ersatz.
     
  22. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    You clearly haven't read PK Dick, and you should :)
     
  23. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

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    Any book in particular for a start? I'll add it to my (neverending) To Be Read list. I'm backlogged about 2 years...
     
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  24. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Fake, false, faux, substitute.... In a legal setting, even though I know that every attorney in the room (or reading my documents) would know the meaning of that word for being well-read, It's the kind of word that would get questioned for being overly opaque to the non-attorney individuals in the room (or reading my documents).

    (Hm... lot's of F's) :whistle:
     
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  25. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Oh, wow...there are so many...

    Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is what Blade Runner was based on.

    I like The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, A Scanner Darkly, and Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said.

    Now Wait for Last Year is good.

    The Clans of the Alphane Moon presupposes a society that arose from a sort of mental institution, with clans separated into those with paranoia, mania, schizophrenia, and hebephrenia making up the society, each with representatives in government.

    I also remember liking We Can Build You.

    And of course The Man in the High Castle is currently the subject of a TV show.
     
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