March 15, 2011

Superfluous Vocabulary Utilization*

 (*a.k.a. Using Too Many Big Words)

(Now with new LARGER TEXT!)

Language and writing go hand-in-hand, and one of the delights of descriptive writing is to use words that evoke those particular qualities the author wants to convey.

But it’s easy to get carried away with interesting words, especially ones that are lesser-known and infrequently used. There’s something to be said for succinctness, also known in popular parlance as economy of language.

The rise in popularity of text messaging and other forms of electronic communications had brought with it an entire new lexicon of short-hand anagrams and phrases that originated as time and space savers, back when people were charged by the letter for text messages.

(Side note: This phenomenon shares a similarity with the days of telegrams, where senders were charged per word, which made brevity the way to go.)

An author must always consider his audience when deciding upon the language to use.  And these days, with short-and-sweet being the preferred manner to convey a message, it behooves writers to follow suit.

For example, rather than writing all this:

Lawrence, a certified automobile repair specialist, inquired of his business partner and co-worker, Anthony, whether he would acquiesce to manually acquiring and transporting to Lawrence's person a certain dual-parted conjoining mechanism.

A modern writer would more succinctly write:

Larry the mechanic said to his partner, "Hey Tony! Pass me that nut and bolt, will ya?"

But one drawback to the succinctness afforded in utilizing brevity is that ideas aren’t always conveyed effectively - sometimes even detrimentally so.

For example, if a teenager sent a text to their grandma using an unfamiliar text shortcut like CU2NTE (See you tonight), it might not only confuse grandma, but may also offend her!

("Suzie, I don't know where you learned such awful words, but I'm going to have a LONG talk with your mother about this!")

Writers need to find a balance between being so brief that their message gets lost, and being so wordy that their message gets buried.  So use big words like seasonings - apply carefully, so they don't overpower - and let your message be the main focus.


  1. It is interesting too that while on the one hand people are shortening their words/messages via texting blogging has offered more and more people an opportunity to write fully and expressively in the public realm...something that would not have been possible for the average person in the past.

  2. I love words. I like playing with them and working out what the long ones mean when I don't know them. I've even started making up a few of my own! See here:

  3. gotcha! now if only I can stop laughing ....

  4. Hilarious and very very instructive. I'm still thinking about poor grandma. At least in her times, they called her that to her face instead of texting it.

  5. smiles. too do have to consider audience as if they do not understand it is your fault not theirs...

  6. Could you make the text a bit smaller? I could still read it.

  7. Okay, I've taken the liberty of enlarging the post's text for our senior readers. (LOL!)

  8. Ha~ you used one of my favorite words: Behoove! Love it.

  9. LOLZ!! (oops.. hahahah)
    Now I see why you asked me if I read this one! ;-)
    My poem's nowhere near succinct.. hhehehehe
    And that's why I play Flash 55 and Sunday 160.. so that I stay in check :)

  10. HaHa!! You cracked me up. This is a great post. Reminds me of something a college professor said to my class many moons ago with regard to an essay test: "Be correct. Be brief. Brevity is a virtue." I've never forgotten. Unfortunately, I never shut up, so I may remember it but I don't always pay attention to it. (Hence this lengthy comment!)

  11. are you calling me old, eric alder? because i seriously could not read this shit at all yesterday. for crying out loud.
    having said that, i favor plain speaking! for sure, man.
    and you better stop referring to me as a senior citizen before i get all youthful and energetic on your verbose ass.


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