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09/27/2005: "big words"
I was having a conversation with a student the other day and he said something like "why do you use such big words when you could get your point across more easily without them?". My response was that I love words and that each has its own nuances that change meaning ever so slightly perhaps but to me it was worth the effort to choose the best word, not the easiest. His response reminded me of something my older sister told me in high school, that if language is about communication, then why use words that your intended audience probably doesn't know? I just replied something like "you're in college now, my intended audience *should* know these words, if you don't, look em up".
Now, I wasn't using $5,000 dollar words, just normal words that I would expect any high school graduate to have learned long ago. I get worried at times by the serious lack of intellectual curiosity I've found in some of the freshmen coming in over the past few years, and by the fact that so few younger students seem to read at all. I've heard students say "I hate books". Maybe I'm just old fashioned but...