The Charm of the Large Word – by Mathina Calliope…

on Jane Friedman site:

Big words get a bad rap.

George Orwell practically outlaws them in his famous essay Politics and the English Language (which, if you haven’t yet read, do, as soon as you finish this). It’s right there in rule (ii): Never use a long word where a short one will do.

Hemingway famously preferred short words to long:

Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words? He thinks I don’t know ten-dollar words. I know them all right. But there are older and simpler and better words, and those are the ones I use.

Using big words may feed our ego. Hemingway clearly thought they fed Faulkner’s. And ego-nourishment is no reason to use a big word.

Esoteric vocabulary is sometimes fingered for deliberate obfuscation (see what I did there?). One of the many lines our country has split along is between regular folks and elites. The former call the latter’s use of obscure words pretentious (or they would if they used big words. Instead they call it snobby). The latter find the former’s avoidance of clarity and precision to be, um, deplorable.

But big words can be beautiful.

Continue reading HERE

2 thoughts on “The Charm of the Large Word – by Mathina Calliope…

  1. I search and find my big words mostly in the use of learned ancient languages, such as Latin and Greek. Unfortunately, they are increasingly not quite in the meaning of today’s words. Honestly, i often also do not remember these old vocables. Lol Michael

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ll sometimes use them intentionally to be pretentious – such as when a character is being haughty, or to make something read as if written in a different generation though the language seems outdated in context. They also slightly help my humorous fiction look somewhat more literary, if not overdone.

    Liked by 2 people


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