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#164022 12/03/06 06:30 PM
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Hi all,

Clearly anybody who's reading a forum like this has a deep love for words, but I think that we bibliophiles run into a problem with our hobby: Language is a contract between a writer and the reader to agree on a meaning for a word, and we like rare words with obscure meanings. You'd be hard pressed to work "phlegmatic" into a conversation but there are some words like "surd" (an unvoiced sound in linguistics or an irrational number) that you probably can't even use in formal writing because it would send people grasping for the biggest dictionary they have.

I wrote an article on the subject for the magazine I edit, which you can read here. I hope you find it interesting (it's filled to the brim with strange words).


Visit Califerne Magazine at www.califerne.com.
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Welcome, bibliophage, interesting article, interesting magazine.

Stick around, you won't find yourself depayse.

Welcome.

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Welcome to our unique and very entertaining home. We all range from yaud's to neonates, so you should fit in just fine.

The one thing we all have in common, is the fact that we xertz new as well as old words; and most of us have maledictaphobia so tread heavily.

Enjoy,


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Quote:

When is a big word too big?




Is that a rhetorical question to introduce us to your article, or would you like to know?

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bib: Very excellent question I too have pondered. In one's choice of a synonym, it's not the length but the familiarity

It will fall in one of three levels: 1) Everyday speech; basic English: "laugh" 2) Less often used but more expressive and likely to be understood by nearly everyone: "guffaw" 3)Snooty: "cachinnation"

Of course 3) is more likely to be longer than 1), as above. One should cultivate one's vocabulary to more often use type 2)when it better expresses the idea, though not to excess


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Why use one word when two polysyllabic agglomerates will do?

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Quote:

Some other resources for bibliophiles are A Word a Day, which features daily emails and a community of users who share their experiences. (Be warned that sometimes you don't want to hear about people's all-too-personal relationships with words.)




But Arthur Dudney is happy to come to A Word A Day and spoon feed its users a self-important article, enlarging on its author's personal view of words, and his history of "voracious reading"—and with a post-and-run thread what's more.

What a shmuck.

Last edited by Hydra; 12/05/06 02:10 PM.
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I really want to know what people think. As dalehiliman says, there are different levels of language, but I don't agree with his point that the third tier, the absolute rarest words, are necessarily "snooty." My point is that words can always be used inappropriately, but there is definitely a place in writing for "cachinnation"--it shouldn't always be relegated to the ghetto of snootiness. "Nattering nabobs of negativity" is a classic phrase even if nobody knows that "nabob" is a derivation from the Bengali pronunciation of the Indian royal title nawwab. But in that phrase it's the sound that's most important, I think. "Nay-bob" has built into it a feeling of "nay-saying" or something like that so you don't have to know what it means for it to work rhetorically.

But take "yaud," which is a great word meaning "worn out mare." It's a dialect word, North English and Scottish (as I learned when I looked it up in the OED), and apparently rare. So what standard would you use to decide whether to drop that word into your writing? Besides that "yaud" always fits in a discussion on rare words, it's hard to think of a rule to follow. (It reminds me of that fact that in Sanskrit there's a particular sound that's a long-vocalic 'l'--don't ask what that sounds like--which appears in exactly one place in Classical Sanskrit and that's in a entry in a grammar that says basically "no word uses the long-vocalic 'l'.") What I'm trying to understand is when "yaud" becomes a word we can use in writing that's not about words. It's not a question of snootiness but something else that I can't put my finger on. Is there an answer?

And I should add that if Hydra is offended by what he/she sees as self promotion (and shmuckiness) then he/she should suggest to an administrator that this post be deleted.


Visit Califerne Magazine at www.califerne.com.
#164030 12/07/06 01:56 AM
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As dalehiliman says, there are different levels of language, but I don't agree with his point that the third tier, the absolute rarest words, are necessarily "snooty."

By snooty DH means highfalutin', but I wouldn't take anything DH sez seriously, he's an anti-Turing persiflagebot.

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suggest to an administrator that this post be deleted. I strongly prefer not to do that. I will say that blatant self-promotion is ... a bit much for this place, including references to one's own publications. Other than that, welcome aBoard! You've presented an idea that is well worth discussing; thank you.

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