Monday, August 13, 2018

I Say Nay!

Over at Dustbury, Charles offers an opinion on an item he read about the way that modern writing tends to aim lower,  reading-level wise, than it did once upon a time. The item he quotes is right on: The best response to a first encounter with a new word is a dictionary (or, in emergencies, Google).

Charles is also right on -- we can't be too far from the day when the choice to write above someone's head will be taken away from us on the basis of vocabulary privilege or some similar nonsense.

I say nonsense because I have never in my life experienced any benefits from having a strong vocabulary. During the school years, polysyllables attracted "donees" for my lunch money but repelled the chicks en masse. When writing for the newspaper, they earned me significant editing. While they were useful in seminary, that's still a form of academia and is therefore of no value to the real world. In fact, seminary gave me an entirely new realm of vocabulary I can't use in real life, such as "hypostatic union." The phrase refers to the Christian understanding of how the divine and human natures of Christ co-relate within one person, but I'm never going to say it in a sermon. Not because other people can't understand it -- but because if I do use it I'll have to explain it and I'm lazy.

But I have one issue of strong disagreement with Charles' piece, and if you look at the comments you'll see it's shared by some other of his readers as well. We reject utterly his opening contention that he is not a writer and I personally would sentence him to reading non-gender and inclusive re-workings of Strunk and White.

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