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Rhawbert asked if one of the goals of my blog was to practice a hard to understand English vocabulary.

And, well, in case anyone else wondered, it is not.

In Portuguese (at least here in Brazil) we call using a complicated vocabulary with lots of unknown words “Talking Difficult”. I do not know what is the best expression for that in English.

I actually do think about the vocabulary, but usually in the other way, trying to avoid less popular words. But i do know lots of words, at least in my native language Portuguese, and it seems now in English also, and it is always hard to figure whether the words you know will be known by anyone else.

Not only that, you must also have to select the right connotations. Because no word is a simple thing, one single and final meaning. Words are fuzzy sets of meanings. Words mean lots of things, some of those things more clearly, but you can never be sure about how the other person will read them.

Now if you use a less known word, maybe it has a more precise set of meanings, one that fits better to your ideas. That is, mainly, my motivation to using unusual words.

The problem is, using difficult words usually helps in convincing the other person you know more than her, and therefore forces her to accept your arguments, but it does not help her to understand the way you understand. It does not help in sharing comprehension.

(Maybe it does, in the long long run, by giving the other person a run of brain-fitness, but maybe you will no longer be around when that bears fruit).

Now if you think that Language is about sharing understanding, and not influencing people to do what you want them to do, then i guess Language is a very complicated thing indeed.

Is there any difference between saying “talk difficult” and “using a complicated vocabulary with lots of unknown words”? If you naively accept that speaking is simply transmitting meaning, and not actually creating meaning — that is, you imply that the ideas you try to convey already exist before you actually turn them into phrases and words — then you should take the two forms like amounting to the same.

But i guess they do not amount to the same.

Here’s to hoping the context i established helps you understanding the various ways it is not the same.

And, by the way, Rhawbert really should have a more philosophical blog.

One Comment

  1. Very well written article and an interesting subject! I tend to be drawn to use grandiose language as well. :)


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