Want a laugh? Read insanitybytes22’s post. Then my comments below will make more sense.
One of the funny things about people who try to use fancy language is that their efforts usually backfire.
1. The first problem is that fancy language interferes with communication. The more unusual the words we use, the fewer are the people who can understand us.
2. The second problem is that we cannot substitute fancy words for something worth saying. Once people figure out we are just spouting empty words….. If we have nothing to say, we may as well remain silent.
One of the reasons Thomas Paine is famous is because he was one of the first, if not the first, major authors to write in plain language. People back then used pretentious language to demonstrate that they were in the upper crust. Paine just wanted what he wrote to be read.
Unlike Thomas Paine, the Apostle John did not write for a living. So, we don’t think of him as an author of books. Nevertheless, the Apostle John wrote what may the most beloved and marvelous literary accomplishment. His Gospel uses simple and plain language. Yet the ideas the Gospel of John conveys leave us “awed” in the truest sense of that word.
See, there's this thing called biology...
Allow me to vent for a moment. Unless we are in England, “wilst” is not a word I ever want to hear. It is similar to “while,” which should always be pronounced more like “wall.”
I will be there in a wall. It rhymes with drawl.
“Wilst” is just ridiculously pretentious and amounts to putting on airs. Worse yet, it is often improperly used, so those of us who really do have airs to put on, feel twice as insulted. Not only are you arrogant and pompous, you think so little of me, you assume I won’t even notice.
If one was wearing a romantic cloak and wanted to say something like, “Wilst thou goest,” one would be completely forgiven. I am talking about injecting “wilst” into conversations about the weather, as if you are a highly intelligent creature with vastly superior communications skills. This fancy word is…
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Thank you for the reblog, Tom. Much appreciated.
The word whilst does seem like a pretention, as it’s a forced and modern adaptation. There are British and American usages that are almost interchangeable, such as kneeled and knelt, that don’t sound pretentious. But I’m of the opposite mindset regarding so-called “plain” language. I’ve been reading for a long time. I’ve watched the vocabulary of books diminish over the years, but I still have a natural, large vocabulary because I read new words in books. I didn’t know them before I read them. It irks me how snooty it is for authors to think a varied vocabulary is beyond the understanding of literate people. If a person can read, then they can extrapolate context or, nowadays, look unfamiliar words up. I realize looking words up in a standardized dictionary was not as easy in Paine’s day. Still, context clues and asking a more knowledgeable person has always been an option. I guess, ultimately, I despise the cult of stupid. People were more literate in Paine’s day, though, which probably means his “plain” is a far cry from ours. I’ll get off my lector box now.
People were more literate in Paine’s day, but you are not going to convince Liberal Democrats of that. The first thing they will do is bring up the slaves, of course. They don’t seem to understand that when they have to do that, they have just shot themselves in the foot.
I have been reading a book by Mary Eberstadt on Kindle. Occasionally, she will use a word I am not familiar with. So, I click on the word, and that brings up a dictionary.
Even though I am overeducated, and I have read a lot, some writers have vocabularies that well exceed my own. Am I going to stop reading what people smarter and wiser than I write. I don’t think so.
Is Eberstadt being pretentious? I don’t think so. Eberstadt uses those words I have to look up appropriately. She has some very interesting and well-researched ideas, and she conveys her thoughts with great clarity.
Consider this term, “gobbledygook.” When someone uses pretentious language, instead of communicating, they needlessly produce gobbledygook. When a more common word would work just fine, they use a lesser-known word that adds no value.
Yeah, I don’t like gobbledygook either. I just don’t like being accused of being pretentious for using what has become a natural vocabulary for me, which has happened on multiple occasions when I was just talking without thinking much at all. Language is so rich and varied. It feels like a dose of cold water dumped over my head when told I should use “plain” language.
Everyone is a critic, but the only critique that counts is the one we get from God.
Sadly, even plain, simple words are difficult for the majority of people in this day of emojis and acronyms. 🙂
That is a scary thought.