9 Answers | Add Yours
One of the most common mistakes students make is that they think that fancy words are better than plain words. They go running to the thesaurus, even with a simple word will do. The key to sophisticated writing is not flowery language, it's precision. You can't just choose a word from a thesaurus because it's listed as a synonym, and just any word will do. You need to select whichever word has the meaning you want.
As an English teacher, I keep my phone next to me while reading (just in case I need to look up a word--and suggest my students do the same). Authors choose words very carefully. I have always appreciated the technicality of writing (when to write using elevated language and when to write using basic language).
I have to admit that sometimes I feel that some people try to use "big" words to impress others (and not used to denote true understanding). It is almost as if they are writing with the thesaurus open so as to find the most impressive words possible). That said, some writings can discourage the reader when the author makes them feel stupid (through word choice).
Authors need to be aware of their audience and write appropriately. Readers need to engage in the reading and understand that words read are important.
Focus on making your writing clear and concise. Sometimes, new words are not always the best words. At the same time, big, flowery words are not always the best words either. If you write a sentence and find that you can delete whole phrases or clauses from that sentence and still get the same point accross, it is probably best to leave out those extra parts.
Now, instead of adding words, you might want to replace some boring or dull words (or words you've already used quite a few times) with words that are more interesting or give the reader a better visual. For this, I would simply suggest using a thesaurus. I wouldn't overdo it, though, because many readers (especially teachers) can tell when a writer is trying to hard to use "sophisticated," or, as I like to call it, flowery language.
Using new words does not necessarily mean using pompous words.
You can understand the notion of "new words" in more than one way. For instance, language keeps adding words for new objects or activities that we did not name before for the simple reason that they did not exist. Examples of this are "texting" and "freemium", a condensation of "free" and "premium" used in business to express that a basic product is free while additional, related services are charged. The reason why we cannot speak in dead languages such as Latin is that they lack many of the words we now need for factual communication.
You can also think of "new words" in relative terms. Words that are new to some may be familiar to others. This depends on the extent to which a speaker of a language has built up his/her vocabulary. Learning new words enlarges the scope of comprehension. These words may be retained in memory as passive knowledge -that is to say, you remember their meaning when you hear or read them- or may be activated; i.e. you may appropriate them and use them.
A poor vocabulary yields limited thought, for our thinking processes rely on words. So by all means try to learn words that are new to you, always bearing in mind that registers (styles of language) do not mix kindly. We do not use the same words in a colloquial exchange, an academic paper, and a literary piece.
I'm going to sound like an English teacher here:
Many writers feel that the more complicated their writing sounds the better it is, but this is the opposite of the truth. It looks to me like you're trying to make your writing sound complex, but unfortunately it's just extremely confusing.
A straightforward, easily understandable approach would be much more effective. As for new words, make sure you've seen each new word used in a variety of contexts before you start to use them yourself.
I especially enjoy this line from your post:
As a result, I step into significant crepuscular region.
A suggestion for you, however, comes from reading a line like this - Remember that it is the thought behind the words which is primarily important, not the language itself. This is an interesting sentence, but with simpler wording your meaning would probably be clearer.
Using a wide range of terms in a piece of writing is nice for variety, but the real virtue in having access to a large vocabulary comes in one's ability to achieve accurate expression.
Good said, elevated writing. As a novice language lover, I have no intention to impress others by my words. But I squirmed a little when I see repeated words in my writing. I found, my motionless writing is a timid approach to express my thoughs. I don't like to see a slight frown on my face when using new words in my writing. I know this is a decisive argument, whether I have to memorize all those new words or not. I believe, if I follow a skeptical approach for using new words in my writing, I will never be able to learn new words.
Now the million dollar question is should I ignore all those unknown words in my reading to finish the book first? Or should I explore the meaning of an unknown word before I move to the next line in my reading? If I follow the second way, it will take long time to finish a book. On the other hand, if I follow the first method, I am afraid I will never come back again to discover the meaning of all those unknown words. I have seen people expressed their thoughts regarding this issue. Some prefer to use a note book to write down all new words and their meaning while others love to guess the meaining first by reading the whole sentence. Since these methods have their own merits and demerits, I expect
your comment regarding your own method of learing new words. Specially, when you reading a new book. Thanks.
I have to engage in good writing because my proliferation of poor writing tends to blur the origin and ideas of my impression. Most of the time, my words are stung together without an ideal meaning. But in some cases, I am able to produce an idea or approach an issue in my writing. I have to cultivate vivid expression in my writing. If I train myself to see and hear things keenly and responsively, as an artist or a musician does, I will be able to describe
them vividly yet without artificiality in my writing. My current trends of writing on a issue, some might call this stealing, becomes clouded when someone else justify my thoughts. As a result, I step into significant crepuscular region. So how can I manage my writing to avoid this tumultuous period? The obvious answer is to keep writing and schedule my writing time in advance.
We’ve answered 319,639 questions. We can answer yours, too.Ask a question