Ultimately, it’s not simply the number of words you know, but how you use each one that’s important. Using colorful, descriptive words almost always makes writing more compelling. It’s not about impressing people, improving your professional prospects or building scholarly achievement
Use of Language
You might think that being too specific in your communications might confuse busy readers or distract audiences but it’s quite the opposite. Using simple language and being appropriately specific in your descriptions have been proven to increase understanding and retention. Here are some examples:
Problems. Difficulties. Complications. Obstacles. Disputes. Solid words but not used much anymore. Now everything is an “issue,” and I’m so grateful to Carina Chocano who wrote about this brilliantly in the New York Times Magazine (July 23, 2017).
I’ve been thinking about writing a column on this subject for a long time. Then I saw that Frank Bruni of the Times beat me to it, and did so beautifully. I couldn’t have said it better myself, so I won’t try.
We all know words have power. Take the vocabulary of incarceration – the stigmatizing way we speak about people who have served time. Studies show that the words we choose – “felon,” “ex-convict” or “ex-offender” – present a significant barrier to reintegration.
It’s becoming abundantly clear that our technology does not necessarily help us increase our language (and writing) skills or our ability to learn. My fellow writers and communication professionals – and especially parents – should take heed.