Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Choice Words

Language. Vocabulary.
Seems I've been in trouble for my vocabulary ever since I was a kid.
Still remember a little prick of a curate at one of those youth group club games wondering aloud how I - a grubby little country colonial - knew the word peer, as in realm.
Have been reading through someone's blog archives.
Noticed a post on pretentious use of words.
Remembered some of you have commented on my language.
Said a badbad word. Strictly one syllable.
I assure you I do not chuck words about to impress, preen, intimidate or scintillate.
Any use of what may be considered break-teeth, obfuscating language on this blog is not the result of a thesauorama, nor any affected attempt to sound "literary."
Words used are my normal, natural and standard. Sometimes I even spell them right.
I am not and do not pretend to be one of the "literati." In fact I might consider that label a deadly insult.
I have lots to learn, but nothing to prove.
Just so you know.


Erik Ivan James said...

Words should never hurt you, but sticks and stones can break your bones.

Um, I'd rather you'd thump me with a big word instead of a big stick, Bernita...Dear Gal.

Robyn said...

Tell me who it is and I'll go flame them so bad they'll never pick up a dictionary again! Messing with my girl...

If it's still available somewhere, you'd enjoy The Superior Person's Book of Words. The author encourages the use of pretentious words the general populace won't know for fun, to wit:

episthenar: the skin on the back of your hand. Wait some morning when Mom's not quite awake, and yell from the bathroom, "Mom! There's a nasty sore on my episthenar!"

I have never, ever found you pretentious. You write very naturally whether using fiddy-cent slang or forty dollar thesauria. If others can't appreciate the fact that you have a wonderful vocabulary, screw 'em.

Jaye Wells said...

Bernita, I know when I did your blog blurb you took it as a dig. I assure you it was not meant that way at all. Some people have a natural talent for complex language. Others do not. With the latter group it is quite apparent they are trying to impress. With you, it's clear that this is really your voice and not some affectation.

Bernita said...

Words are our world, Erik.I tend only to thump after I - or one of my friends - have been thumped.

Thank you, sweet Robyn! With that encouragement, I shall invite anyone to observe the position of the finger next to my ring finger.
No, it wasn't directed at me, but one worries if one might come across that way.
Sounds like a great book for sly humour. I'll watch out for it.

Oh, Jaye, NO! I didn't take it as a dig at all.Please don't think that. Was just afraid I might have come across as a pretentious prig.

Carla said...

There's a big difference between a person with a wide vocabulary who loves words in all their infinite variety and a pretentious prat. You're clearly in the first category. Am astonished you might ever think otherwise.

normiekins said...

you are to be admired and inspired by.....anyone who comments otherwise is just plain and simple jealous and uninformed.....some individuals never grow up.....and it's easier to criticize others....i view you as an erudite.

MissWrite said...

Bernita worrying about other people's petty little problems is not worth your time dear. You have a beautiful, poetic way with words and your posts are ALWAYS a joy to read. Honestly I feel like I've just witnessed a symphony for the eyes when I've finished each one of your posts.

S. W. Vaughn said...

I started to comment, but then I suffered a slight case of Clientus Interruptus. Now, what was I saying?

Oh, yes! Bernita, we don't find you presumptuous (did I spell that right?). In fact, I think most of us are eager for your knowledge, because it helps us expand our vocabularies!

Writers need words. We're happy that you give them to us. :-) Thank you!

Bonnie Calhoun said...

LOL...I know the feeling. I'm no literati either. Every once in a while, I'll use a word that my Pasotr doesn't know, and he accuses me of making up words!

SassyJill said...

Well, you do use some pretty hefty words I've noticed, but it never seems forced.

And I'm with you on the spelling thing. I get so frustrated when I KNOW a word but can't come close enough to the correct spelling and have to change it.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Carla. What occurred to me was the dismaying thought that others might label me so.

Oh, Normiekins, I'm not even close!

Thank you, Tami, but don't you think there's a fair warning sub-text to watch the words and not violate the basic KISS principle?

I think so, Sonya, but I'll have to look it up...
Thank you. Am relieved. Never occurs to me that some words might be considered arcane and even if they are, they are our new and shiny tools.

Sounds like he's a tease, Bonnie!

Bernita said...

That's why I have a Mirriam-Webster bungee-corded to my left wrist, Sassy, but I know what you mean.

Marcail said...

A well-worded retort to the jabber. I, too, enjoy your writing. That you don't settle until you've found the exact words to convey your message is praiseworthy and should be emulated not castigated. Is that an incoming flame I sense?

Bernita said...

Looks like we will share a rail, Marcail..."emulated" and "castigated."

EA Monroe said...

You're my "word guru," Bernita!

PS -- On our walk yesterday, San and I met a Banty Hen named Heather.

Bernita said...

Aww..thank you, EA.
We always called them "banty" hens too!

kmfrontain said...

If anyone says the P word about you, then they don't follow your blog and need to shut up, read, and learn.

I've come up against this "you're pretentious" attitude in my fiction writing, so I know the feeling. There are words that I know, and there are words that suit, that have the perfect meaning. And when they suit and have the perfect meaning, I use them.

I was thumped for using perspicacious. That's an exampe that readily comes to mind. My attitude towards those that didn't like it? Get an education!

Gabriele C. said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Gabriele C. said...

The Typo Demon struck again.

Lol, I've got some crits pointing out I use words the poor critter had to look up, and that it was a bad thing.

Dear critters,
if native speakers don't know words I, a non-native speaker, do know, the problem is not on my side. :)

And I don't mind looking up words in case I can't guess them in context, which happend seldom.

nessili said...

Personally, I'm quite envious of the way you make words dance without visible effort :)

Bernita said...

Karen, "perspicacious" is a word that suits you admirably!Thank you.

I'm delighted to find a new word, Gabriele, or a word used in a new way.
("critter!" Ha!)

Thank you, Nessili. That's a charming turn of phrase.

kmfrontain said...

Thank you, Bernita. :D

Jeff said...

I love your writing, Bernita. Big words, little words, and all the others in between! :)

Patry Francis said...

Any time someone teaches me a new word, or shows me an elegant way to use an old one, I'm grateful.

Keep doing what your're doing!

Bernita said...

Jeff, the feeling is mutual.

Thank you, Patry!

writtenwyrdd said...

Cheers to you! Big words are cool, and they don't make you a snob. I got pegged as a Rich Bitch when I was in the Army because I used large words. Heh. Poor kids are dumb cuz they're poor...did you know that? Neither did I!

Bernita said...

Sounds like a kind of reverse class-ism, Written..