Where I come from, a diverse vocabulary could get you punched. Honestly. As if by using myriad words to describe your everyday comings and goings makes you arrogant. Like you’re rubbing your education in someone’s face.
Some words are more popular than others. Often this is due to trends, social group, or even laziness.
Sometimes words just aren’t used in the righ way. Someone I work with recently told me a story about how she ‘literally lost her shit’ when she had an argument with her boyfriend. I was perplexed, ‘you pooped your pants?’ I asked her. ‘No!’ she said, ‘I mean he makes me so angry.’ ‘So angry you poop?’ I said, before she walked away and left me sat there, confused.
In school I remember we were always scolded for using phrases like ‘really nice’. “English is full of wonderful words Itchy. Why not just pick one of those instead?” my English teacher used to say. So if I’d written ‘this cake is very nice’, what was I really saying? I could have been more specific by using any of the following:
‘This cake is delicious / extraordinary / a work of art / a revelation’
Each statement above gives a better impression to the person I’m speaking to (the cake creator, for example), and also gives you a better impression of who I am. My word choices reflect my feelings. If I’m lazy with praise, I’m probably not that impressed.
This kind of writing sensitivity is useful for those of us penning stories. One cannot possibly hope to express oneself without the power of the written word. Subtle differences in meaning and usage can change the mood of a sentence dramatically.
So, to give you some help identifying common words and also offering some suggestions, we’ve found this great infographic from the folks over at GrammarCheck.Net
However, language is a river, not a lake. It’s flexibility and constant shifting are what make it fascinating, as each generation omits the old, develops the new, or adapts the existing so as to feed the needs of their environment.
For some great examples of how this has happened in the past, there’s a fantastic post on ideas.ted.com called 20 words that once meant something very different.
As for awesome; OK, it’s had it’s day in the sun. When I was a wee lad, everyone said it. For everything. It was seen as an Americanism (like MacDonalds), and yet its influence spread through the ranks of English youth like tamgotchis. It’s time for it to go out in a blaze of glory, and what better use for it than this awesome song from The Lego Movie.
© Itchy Quill and ItchyQuill.WordPress.com, 2016