Saturday, 18 June 2011

Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your words

Yes, yes, I know. You wait ages for a blog post and then two come along at once. Which reminds me of a Wendy Cope poem ("Bloody men are like bloody buses") which I won't quote in full, because really you should go and buy a book of her poems instead.

The point is, however, entirely different, and relates to Hubert van den Bergh's latest book, How to Sound Even Cleverer: he's looking for your words, as he tells us in this Telegraph article. I'm not sure personally that I would describe Pippa Middleton as Promethean, but he's got some points. Anyway, I merely post this to urge you to contribute to his quest for those all important impressive sounding words. The kind of words that people in Oxford seem to trot out all the time to keep you thinking they're clever, even though they don't really know the meaning of them. It's the way I use 'Vygotskyan' and 'Socio-Cultural Activity Theory', although I have clever friends who do know what they mean and can explain them in words of two syllables with reference to Harry Potter.

Personally, I prefer people to use shorter and less clever sounding words that they know and understand. But if being a post-grad has taught me anything, it's that the more syllables, and the more confuscated and obtuse the writing, the better, and the more clever people will think you are. Alternatively you can just use statistics. It has the same effect, since readers can't understand you either way.

No comments: