Before I tucked into bed last night, I took one last circuit around the internet and noticed a few comments on my blog. I was tempted to answer them, then and there, because I’m obsessive that way, but I managed to talk myself out of it.
First thing this morning then, I’m up and composing witty rejoinders in my noggin while I get ready for the day. You do that too, right? Please tell me you do?
Anyway, my opening sentence went like this, “At the risk of sounding facetious…” Then I wondered, am I using that word correctly? I better check, especially since I’m rubbing virtual elbows with folks who write for their bread. I’d hate to get caught using big words inappropriately.
This particular word, facetious, has been in my vocabulary since I was 6 or 7. Mom would use it all the time to scold us. “Don’t be facetious”, she’d say if we’d talk back, or to otherwise demur. (Demur. That’s one I picked up on my own.) Jean had a way with words, and for the life of me, I don’t know where she acquired the talent. She did not read many books, though we subscribed to the Reader’s Digest. Perhaps I haven’t given the magazine enough credit?
Either way, she had a knack with the English language. She showed me some of her writing once. It was a letter of complaint to the car company. I was blown away. Not only did she come across as a force to be reckoned with, she was eloquent and articulate. Yay, mom!
It would seem, then, that a working grasp of the Anguish Languish has passed along from mother to daughter. Like many who write, I read. Not as much these days. But when I am in reading mode, I’ll have at least two books on the go, and two or three as backup in case the first disappoints. (NOT Reader’s Digest! Yes, I’m a book snob.)
During the years when Cheers was the re-run du jour, I would speak in a similar manner as Diane Chambers or Dr. Frasier Crane. I’d like to think that I wasn’t as pompous. None of my friends or family said anything, but maybe they were being kind. Or scared.
Ironically, this was also the time I volunteered in the not-for-profit sector, supporting adults with disabilities. One of my tasks was to accompany folks to committee meetings as their “interpreter”. The other members of the committee were government representatives, executives of assorted social services agencies, and parents of children with disabilities. Except for the parents and the people I supported, corporate-speak was the language of choice. Big words. Highfalutin polysyllabic $40.00 words. Many went over my head, so you can imagine that the folks with developmental delays had trouble keeping up. After the meeting, I’d take my transcript of the minutes and translate the text so that the members could read and understand it.
That was a valuable exercise for me. And it was exercise, in that a certain amount of effort was required to suppress the verbose Diane Chambers.
Here on my blog, I feel a need for vigilance. I need to be watchful. Look out for. There, I need to look out for long cumbersome words. Big Words.
This is going to be harder than it looks.
Before I sign off, I’ll leave you with a humourous recital called, Eschew obfuscation espouse elucidation.
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Tags: writing clearly