“One of the really bad things you can do to your writing is to dress up the vocabulary, looking for long words because you’re maybe a little bit ashamed of your short ones. This is like dressing up a household pet in evening clothes. The pet is embarrassed and the person who committed this act of premeditated cuteness should be even more embarrassed.”
– Stephen King (On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft)
I couldn’t agree more. Unless it is absolutely essential for you to write a word that most people would need a dictionary to understand, you’re only dressing up your language. And by absolutely necessary, I mean, when there is no other word in the English language that conveys exactly what you’re trying to convey.
If you’re one of those people, who insert big words in their writing and convince themselves that those few words show what a wonderful writing style they have, allow me to tell you it that doesn’t work that way. The only thing it does show, is how incredibly ordinary the rest of the writing is!
Don’t use words like ‘perspicuity’ where a simple ‘clarity’ would suffice, and I won’t call your language ‘magniloquent’ when I can just call it ‘pretentious’.
Last night I found out that when German cats purr, they are actually “schnurr”-ing. That got me wondering what animals from the rest of the world say!
“The inventor of the language seems to have taken pleasure in complicating it in every way he could think of.”
- To continue with the German genders: a tree is male, its buds are female, its leaves are neuter; horses are sexless, dogs are male, cats are female – tomcats included, of course; a person’s mouth, neck, bosom, elbows, fingers, nails, feet, and body are of the male sex, and his head is male or neuter according to the word selected to signify it, and not according to the sex of the individual who wears it.
- Some German words are so long that they have a perspective. These things are not words, they are alphabetical processions. And they are not rare; one can open a German newspaper at any time and see them marching majestically across the page – and if he has any imagination he can see the banners and hear the music, too. They impart a martial thrill to the meekest subject. “Generalstaatsverordnetenversammlungen” seems to be “General-states-representatives-meetings,” as nearly as I can get at it – a mere rhythmical, gushy euphuism for “meetings of the legislature,” I judge.
- German names almost always do mean something, and this helps to deceive the student. I translated a passage one day, which said that “the infuriated tigress broke loose and utterly ate up the unfortunate fir forest” (Tannenwald). When I was girding up my loins to doubt this, I found out that Tannenwald in this instance was a man’s name.
- Personal pronouns are a fruitful nuisance in this language, and should have been left out. For instance, the same sound, sie, means you, and it means she, and it means her, and it means it, and it means they, and it means them. Think of the exasperation of never knowing which of these meanings the speaker is trying to convey. This explains why, whenever a person says sie to me, I generally try to kill him, if a stranger.
Poetry sucks; well 99% of it, anyway. I hate poetry; even the 1% that doesn’t suck as much as the rest. I can recall only two poems that I’ve actually ever really liked(and they were not in any way based on sadness). Usually it’s too vague, too depressing, and most of it doesn’t have a clear message.
All the poems that you’ll find strewn all over the internet are something else: usually it’s a combination of some glittery anime picture or a sunset picture with a couple standing there, or just any revoltingly romantic picture and a few non-rhyming lines with words that you’ll never use while writing or talking squeezed in there just for the sake of it. Of course, it has to be about either death or love. And the basic principle is – the less you understand it; the better it is. Kind of like modern art all over again, huh? It’s depressing to see so many people waste so much time on being depressing!
I don’t deny that it’s hard to write: all the haikus and acrostics and all. But why write it, right?! Why does anyone need to write a poem with “17 syllables divided into three phrases of 5, 7 and 5 syllables” which is what I think a haiku is?! So what if it’s difficult; writing with your feet is difficult – doesn’t mean it has a point!
My views on poetry are basically summed up by Jess Mariano in Gilmore Girls: “I can’t get into poetry. It’s kind of like, geez, just say it already, we’re dying here.”
Lately, what with having fractured my hand (isn’t it cool how I can type, but I can’t write or do any other important work?), I have had pretty much nothing to do. Naturally, I sit at home, glued to the computer, all day.
Now, if you are as crazy about How I Met Your Mother as I am, you have probably recognized the title as a dialogue from the episode Robots vs. Wrestlers. Yep, that’s what Barney Stinson says about a party full of ‘stuffy, pretentious snoots’. There are two things that totally crack me up in that episode: first, the part where Marshall says that William Defoe sounds like a frog talking to a parrot(it totally does!); and second, how totally excited Ted is about meeting the editor of the New York Times crossword. That’s what I was watching today, when I realized that I’ve never ever tried solving a crossword puzzle!
A few months back, one of my best friends wrote a totally inspiring blog post on how she loves solving rubik’s cubes. I’ve never tried solving one; and I don’t think I’ll be able to, either. I was obsessed, though, with playing all sorts of word games a few years back. My sister and I used to literally spend hours solving word jumbles together. I remember one time we were playing Word Challenge on Facebook; and by the time we were ready to stop, my hands had turned into claws and her eyes were hurting! So, quite confident about it; I decided to try solving a crossword today, you know, just to see if I could.
I wasn’t quite pleased with myself, though, when after a few minutes, the only two things I had managed to “solve” were: ”Four letters, Red Planet” and ”___, humbug”! Even after some time, it just got worse: I only got two more words, one of which was a name. As you can imagine, it didn’t take long for me to realize that I suck at solving crosswords. A lot. Maybe it’ll take lot more time and practice for me to get to the point where I can solve an entire crossword, or understand what Ted says about the whole lyric baritone thing.
At least I know I still have a long way to go before I reach that level of ultimate douchiness. That’s definitely a relief!