February 22, 2009

Who’s Verbose?

When I was in the GRE-learning phase of my life, I wrote a long fictitious story, titled “When sparks fly”. My brother brought over a copy of that book when he visited me in Paris and I only just recently rediscovered it and went back to reading it. Call me a narcissist, but I usually enjoy reading what I write. I am sure that knocks off a few points from my “cool meter” in other people’s eyes but I figure that if I enjoy reading what I write, there’s a better chance that many others will too. Anyhow, when I read that book, I realized that back then I was prone to using “big” words. And it was sort of in keeping with my attempt to remember all the new words from the Barron’s wordlists. And I was using them in a lot of unnecessary places. Like using crapulence instead of hangover. I suppose I subconsciously took a leaf off Erich Segal’s book, “The Class”. When I first read it when I was in the 10th grade or something and I had to sit with a dictionary to understand a lot of words. Recently I read it again… and though the words were mature they didn’t quite require referencing. And so in my book, I’d gotten the concept wrong - I wasn’t using the words because I liked them, because I thought they were appropriate or because they just felt right… Instead, I was using them because they were fancy and they boasted my vocabulary. Over the years though, I’ve learnt that a simple prose is a clean prose and that there’s no need to be excessively verbose. It makes sense to use one or two big words here and there, sprayed tastefully perhaps… but to have an avalanche of them is so unnecessary. And deliberate.

I have been reading a few blogs over the past many days (not the same ones all the time) and I’ve noticed that a lot of people resort to using “big” words. And because I don’t know any of the bloggers personally, I cannot comment if their style is original or a very fake and deliberate attempt to ramp things up. For instance, I read some blog where a dude described his very personal experience of his first kiss. And he’d written it like a Mills n Boons novel. It icked me out.The other thing is that I believe it shows if you are natural at using these words or if you’re trying too hard. It somehow comes through from beneath the whole write-up. And none of the most famous and popular writers had to resort to using the big stuff just to get noticed. So why should anyone? It’s down to each one’s personal style I suppose. And the freedom of “press”, blah blah. But that also means, I get to bitch on my blog, don’t I?


Sharath said...


Nice post! Very true- I am guilty of it all the time. But I consciously do it because that’s the only way I will remember all the words that I learn – It is not to show off or anything –to be honest I don’t care what people think about my writing


Jaya said...

Sharath -> I hope you know I wasn't talking about you, for example. :) There are soo many others who do it too and like you, they might also be doing it for word retention... but me being me, had to point it out. Thanks for commenting n keep visiting btw :)

Anonymous said...

Interesting observation. I have noticed a lot of people use unnecessary prose too and like you've rightly mentioned, it's like they're trying too hard. And to get across a point, there's no need to to resort to the whole bombastic method. That's why I like you're blog. it's simple and clean.

Jaya said...

Thanks Anon! Keep visiting!

Krish said...

Totally agree too. Some blogs/pages are very irritating for the same reason. They are unreadable to the point of being irrational. Glad someone's gotten the concept right.

Jaya said...

Krish-> Thank you. :)

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