The longer I continue in this work, the more outside its mainstream I feel. One of those areas is the way we use language.
For some reason, I never have motivation to play word games or solve word puzzles. A long list of obsolete words does me good only to register them in my inactive vocabulary in case I run across them, but I never have a desire to resurrect and start using them. I see a post betting me I can’t think of a place name that doesn’t have a given letter in it, and I say to myself: “Well, whether I could or not, I don’t really want to.” And I know of very few writers who can get by with using obscure terms and making them sound natural. I’m the sort of person who sees stuff like “Eschew terminological obfuscation,” understands it, and doesn’t think it’s cute.
Then again, anything that makes me feel like I’ve wandered into a Mensa meeting causes me discomfort.
Nothing against anyone who finds that sort of thing interesting. I wish I did, because I would disappoint less people. Then again, if I were more like other people, all sorts of things would never have occurred. But yeah, for whatever reason, I never take those quizzes to test my vocabulary. If it’s not improving through my work and leisure reading, that means my brain has started the granola transformation process.
Maybe I do too much work with words to have any brain space left for playing with them.
I guess ‘lachrymose’ has stuck in my brain as the poster child for obscure terms people seem excited to work into their writing. If it’s a natural part of the way one communicates, then that’s one thing, but I suspect that most instances amount to showing off. I no longer even show off even in those rare cases where I have come across someone who is both so evil as to deserve intellectual belittling, and so stupid as to be belittlable through vocabulary. The rest of the time, the obscurity is alienating. I can see readers with average vocabularies saying to themselves: if he were a better writer, he’d be able to express his message so that his entire audience understood it. I guess I’m not in the audience.
Can’t think of many situations where one would want to kick some people out of one’s audience.