1 Jun

I am a self-diagnosed logophile. I love anything and everything to do with words. I’m not going to be (overly) pretentious and fill this post with unnecessarily long words, but I do tend to come across problems when attempting to express myself. Here are the most common and my suggestions for improvement.

“Gee whiz, you really like big words, dontcha?”

I cannot begin to fathom how many people have said this or a variation of this to me. As I stated before, I try not to use unnecessarily complex words because I believe this practice is akin to tossing out obscure song/movie/history/etc. references in casual conversation. It leaves your audience feeling vaguely dissatisfied and inferior. But when I used the word “ambivalent” during my driver’s test, I did not expect the instructor to face me and blurt out, “Wow, you really like big words, huh?” in an accusatory voice. For the first time in my life, I actually felt ashamed of my vocabulary. How ridiculous is that? After experiencing several similar confrontations, I’ve automatically become accustomed to “dumbing myself down” when speaking with peers and adults for fear of being accused of trying to “act smart.” Honestly, I’m tired of it. I was a bookworm when I was little- I devoured them by the dozens. I wanted to be a writer like Suzanne Collins or J. K. Rowling or Cornelia Funke or Dan Brown (my favorites). As I’ve grown, I’ve read less and less, but I’ve held onto the curiosity that keeps me overjoyed at the prospect of learning and using new words. I’m a nerd, but I’m proud of it. I don’t want myself or anyone else to feel like they can’t express themselves intellectually because of the snap judgments of lesser mortals. I’m looking at you, Korean driving guy. Cut it out.

How big is TOO big?

Mind out of the gutter, please, this is a serious issue. When is a word too big or “fancy” to be used when speaking or writing? In general, I use larger words when I’m writing to make my points more “official.” If a simple idea is said in a complex way, more consideration will be taken of it. When speaking, try to cater to the person you’re speaking to. Even now, my mother tries to one-up me by using medical terminology she knows I won’t understand. It is absolutely infuriating. Don’t automatically assume a younger person won’t understand what you’re trying to say, but don’t intentionally embellish your speech with meaninglessly long words. It does not make you wiser. It makes you a dick. A big one.

So when CAN I use my favorite words?

I love asking others for their favorite words. It’s a much more interesting and stimulating getting-to-know-you question than “What’s your favorite color?” or “How many pets do you have?” That’s definitely an occasion to break out “obstreperous,” “apoplectic,” “verisimilitude,” and “prestidigitation.”

So long my logophilic friends:) I hope I’ve inspired you to dust off your dictionaries and- just kidding. I don’t expect you to go out and learn new words on my behalf. I know a lot of people really don’t give a hoot about what comes out of their mouths given that it makes grammatical sense (and often not even then), but I’ve felt frustrated by our increasingly colloquialized speech and needed to let out the excess steam. Puff puff.

Cheers and remember to keep reading! It really is better than sitting in front of the computer screen. Oh, the hypocrisy of me.


2 Responses to “Logophilia”

  1. Life of a Honors Student June 1, 2013 at 9:47 pm #

    I can attest to this.


  1. 100 Things That Make Me Happy | Eye Have A Lot of Feelings - September 24, 2013

    […] 46. Big words.  […]

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