Monday, February 25, 2013

A Point of View: In defence of obscure words

BBC New Magazine has an article that may interest all of us who enjoy 'words', who are just a tad embarrassed by those who insist on 'simple English' - a relatively new approach to business writing.  Not that I think writing ought to be obtuse, but I do shiver when an academic suggests that using 'big words' is off putting to readers.  Especially today in the world where google can give you a definition in only a moment's search time, it is difficult to imagine why anyone would consider limiting his/her expressiveness in writing in order to 'dumb down' a manuscript.

As those of you who know me will attest, I am anything but an intellectual.  My world is ruled by my heart, not by my mind.  No doubt!  However, I love words, love English, flirt with Spanish and German, and enjoy listening to Chinese and Korean.

And so, I would like to share just a para of this article.  You may find the rest at the following addy:

"We are living in a risk-averse culture - there's no doubt about that.

But the risk that people seem most reluctant taking is not a physical but a mental one: just as the concrete in children's playgrounds has been covered with rubber, so the hard truth about the effort needed for intellectual attainment is being softened by a sort of semantic padding.

Our arts and humanities education at secondary level seems particularly afflicted by falling standards - so much so that universities are now being called upon to help write new A-level syllabuses in order to cram our little chicks with knowledge that, in recent years, has come to seem unpalatable, if not indigestible - knowledge such as English vocabulary beyond that which is in common usage."

Will Self
BBC NEWS Magazine, 20 April 2012