Simple is sweet


While reading some interesting discussions on Quora, I saw a question that evoked a few interesting thoughts that I wish to share here. The question was about the reason why a few writers are passionate about flamboyant and pompous words that are a hard to understand. I found the discussion worth reading as there was a time when I too had the very same curiosity, and kept wondering how an average reader would decipher a message that’s delivered in a bombastic style. I am not totally against using dense words, but at the same time not an ardent lover of obscure pieces with hard to make out messages. In my opinion every piece of writing should be equally palatable for the expert as well as the average reader, and both should enjoy it in alike. But nowadays even national dailies are ‘victims’ of the high propensity to use long and complex words, when smaller ones will do, only to impress people and make them go gaga about their limitless vocabulary. To be frank, I am not a huge fan of such people, writers, or journalists, who use unnecessarily long words like “perambulating” instead of “walking”, and I do believe that almost everything in this world can be said in simple and less obscure words which are not more than five letters in length.

I am not saying that people use complex vocabularies intentionally, but I think many people do have this false notion that a worth reading post or an article should have a good number of those glitzy and hard to understand words, which they think would make the write-up scholarly and relevant. I think they are thoroughly wrong, and I am sure that most of the readers would stop reading such articles half the way just because of the complexity with which the writer has tried to deliver the message. Whatever the topic is, a piece of writing would look interesting and catchy only of it is written in simple and interesting language to help people understand and enjoy it, and not to forcefully make them depend on a dictionary to get the gist of what’s written in the post. I recently read somewhere that writers who are addicted to using bombastic words should cure themselves of sesquipedalianism, a word that sounded to me like kind of grave disease. I kept wondered what this word could be and had to refer the dictionary to know that it is nothing but the practice of using long, and sometimes obscure, words. If sesquipedalianism is a word that’s hardly used by an average reader, how can he/she admire the work of writer who is addicted to sesquipedalianism?

When it comes to writing for a mass audience, I think it’s very important to avoid the words, phrases, and usages that are beyond the reach of an average reader, as less obscure and accessible writing is what most of the people look for these days. Using the “must be understandable to everyone” kind of language will never spoil the beauty of a piece of work, nor will it portray the writer as a person with limited vocabulary. Instead it will only make the writing interesting, thus making it appealing to a wide range of people. If a piece of writing is meant for the elite readers alone, who are acquainted with the so called “rich and classy” words, it’s definitely fine to fill-in the write-up with such words, or else why spoil the beauty of writing by stuffing it with complex and obscure lexis that would make it indigestible and unappealing to the readers?

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