Alaskan Artist - Elise Tomlinson
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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...

Replies: 7 Comments

on Tuesday, September 27th, Cody (aka Markus Barca) said

Maybe yous just too smarts for them. :D

It's possible your students were beaten relentlessly about the head in high school with Strunk & White's Elements of Style or a work of similar regidity. That book has tons of good advice, of which I never follow, but some regard it as the last word or holy writ.

on Tuesday, September 27th, Elise said

so, is cody a pseudonym, a moniker, an alias, or your real name?

And i don't think I'm too smart for them, I just think they are lazy lazy lazy!

on Tuesday, September 27th, Cody said

Cody is my real name. Markus Barca was the pseudonym. :O

on Tuesday, September 27th, mick said

Dear Elise, I must confess to being a tad surprised and yet rather pleased to see that both you and many of your friends use the "English Language" to a far greater extent than is now common or popular in England.

That is a paragraph of over 40 words and in the UK would be deemed much too long for inclusion in any text aimed at the "Man in the Street".

I must also confess to owning a book called "Plain English" which is designed to help people in Government Departments etc to write publications which the majority of English speaking people can understand.

I must also confess that I was only joking when I said that Yahoo was censoring Emails - It was such a simple joke and I really didnt expect you to go to the trouble you have to investigate it. Perhaps there is a moral to this tale - but as a former tutor I will leave you to write it, and then we can discuss it further to arrive at a mutually acceptable conclusion.

But now it is time for you to get back to your painting..........

on Tuesday, September 27th, Elise said

I like the name Markus Barca, it sounds much edgier than Cody...I've always wanted a pseudonym but I think I'm too egotistical for one.

and thanks for that Mick! I've always been convinced that Americans had bastardized the English Language, to see that even in the UK there are those who do not appreciate a well turned phrase (or sentences, paragraphs, chapters, etc) makes me feel better in some ways (and worse in others).

Sorry that I didn't get your joke. Some sites do actually censor your words though....not me...I like to swear like a sailor, and since I actually *am* a sailor, I feel like I should be able to get away with it. At least on my very own blog!


on Tuesday, September 27th, Ty said

Try talking to some one in Oklahoma. :confused:

on Wednesday, September 28th, Elise said

Hi Ty,
does that relate to swearing, or using big words?