Look at three different ways
- Using fancy (high-falutin’) words to sound smart
- Using complex words to appear intelligent
- Using pretentious language to appear erudite
I’ve heard or read lot of chatter about Americans using simpler words or having a smaller vocabulary or something vs. British or Europeans. This brings to mind a ludicrous example, a history book I read in college by a British author where the author was trying so hard sound um, erudite that instead of using commonly understood terminology like widespread or dominant hierarchy to reference the hierarchical class system, he used the term monolithic dys-something, I can’t even find it in the thesaurus to ring a bell. But when I looked it up, it was essentially classical class hierarchy. Really dude. And he used this over and over. Kind of feels like when you are writing a paper and have over used a word so you use the thesaurus to find something fancier.
Anyway, this sort of point of view irritates me. Don’t misunderstand me, a good vocabulary is important. But if a person’s main concept of intelligence of vocabulary is the number of multi-syllabic words you can stuff if a sentence, perhaps intellectual appearance is more important to said person than accurate communication.
The word must be appropriate. That is the key. A fancy word used to express a simple thing is not clear communication, it is an attempt to be snobby.
Complex words/sentences structure SHOULD be used to express complex, nuanced thoughts. Simple, straight-forward language ought to be used to express the simple, straight-forward thoughts. Using long words to obscure meaning is abhorrent.
- Oversimplified language=loss of shades of meaning, loss of depth
- Over-complicated language= loss of meaning by obscuring and dishonesty, smoke and mirrors, false complexity, false depth
BOTH are a loss of expressiveness. Choose pithy (oh, me, I wish I had that skill) over pedantic or simplistic.
Next up, “like.”