Saturday, September 9, 2006

I guess my vocabulary is showing...

Published September 9, 2006
St. George Spectrum & Daily News

I remember a column I wrote about the contrast I saw between an MTV "reality" show and news coverage of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In that column, I used the phrase, "the juxtaposition was striking, to say the least," to describe the intensity of emotion I felt in moving from one to the other.

A family member shared the column with her husband, to which he replied that I seemed to have an overactive need to use big words which probably stemmed from a desire to sound "smart." My response to this was that she should tell him that while it may seem that in my discriminating search for the appropriate words, I am flaunting my tremendous intellectual prowess, my affinity for large words is neither gratuitous nor exorbitant and certainly not founded in some pretentious obligation to self aggrandizement.

Actually, what I really said was that I am not so much interested in choosing large words, as I am interested in choosing the "right" words. In the aforementioned column, the words difference, or contrast or comparison would have all gotten the point across, but the word "juxtaposition" was simply the right word.

That being said, there are times when the right word is chosen from a list of large words that are so beautiful and perfect, so ME, I simply have to use them on a regular basis. For instance, the word "aforementioned" is on the list, and I have now used it twice. I'm giggly just thinking about it!

At the risk of inevitable flattery through imitation, I will share Sarah's Favorite Words of 2006 for those who'd like a peek into my world of words.

-Precipitous, expeditious, and accelerated. Because there's a funny irony in taking that long to describe something fast.

-Painstaking, meticulous, and minutiae, because I have a love/hate relationship with my desire to be precise in everything I do. I love it because I always have a chance at pulling it off. I hate it because I never actually do pull it off. Fortunately for me, I have the words either way.

-Ostentatious. If there were ever a word that screamed, "SARAH WILSON," this is it. Really...have you seen my hair lately?

-Melancholy. Because sometimes...you're just going to be.

As a writer, words are my life. If my choice of words comes off as pretentious or showy or, dare I say, ostentatious (double word SCORE!), just know my intentions are honorable. I strive not to impress my readers with delusions of verbal grandeur but to satisfy my own desire to say what I really mean in everything I write.

If I sound smart in the process...well, can I really help it?

1 comments:

Julie said...

*nods* I have this problem also, on occasion, and have been accused of ostentatiousness and speaking directly form the heart when I should be more objective. I tend to explain that it isn't my fault that I've been reading since before pre-school, that I was reading and extemporizing on college-level English when I was in the third grade, and that after forty-three summers and many moons of questionable behaviour patterns, I still entertain an IQ somewhere in the 150's (at last check).
Goddess forgive my impertinence and yours, I suppose. ;)
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