Friday, November 21, 2008

Well, Then May I Use...?

I'm concerned about a growing sentiment in the Radioactive e-mailbag.

Thrice recently it's been observed that the essays herein feature too many big words. And yes, there were also similar complaints lodged by some of my KIRO and WJR callers over the years, each of whom went to the trouble of accepting my standing invitation to "book yourself as a guest" on the program anyway.

Sorry, but the only thing at issue in the paragraph directly above is the word "too".

That is, in my universe, as long as one doesn't misuse it, a given word's length--or obscurity--is irrelevant. And while those are important considerations of which every wise writer remains ever aware, they nonetheless shouldn't prompt anyone crafting sentences for print or broadcast to resort to inadequate substitutes which dilute or even corrupt shades of intended meaning.

So as a reader, I always feel it's my bad whenever--at least every other article when tackling The New York Times--I encounter words whose unfamiliarity drives me to the 11th Edition of Mirriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary. And I used to repeatedly try the patience of much of my overnight KIRO audience by wistfully musing how incalculably improved our civilization would at least semantically be, were that the book which is almost universally and so faithfully consulted throughout the West, instead of The Bible.

But...if it turns out the readership hereto collectively regards big words the way I do tie games in the NFL [see "Rush and McNabb, Tied Intelligently", directly below], well, something just may have to be done.

So tell me where you stand on this, please.

BRYAN STYBLE/somewhere

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I like the fact that you use big words and proper sentence structure. Not that long ago I read that work which would have garnered one a C+ in the early l980's is now receiving an A in most post secondary institutions. All one has to do is read the commentary page of any online paper and one can see that there is a problem. What happened to capitalization? I have also noticed that people below a certain age do not seem to get the use of sarcasm, irony, parables or allegory. Everything is taken literally. So please, do not lower the bar. My English had to be relearned as my family left the country when I was a child and then returned a year and a half later. It isn't perfect yet I have always loved reading and if I did not know a word, I looked it up. If a person is born in this country and they do not know basic language skills or are too lazy to find the answer, I think it displays a character flaw.