War of (BIG) Words/ Battle of Smahrt

In the wise words of Sue Sylvester, “Words are hard“.

   I giggle at this notion now, observing my 1-year-old grunt and gurgle his vocabulary, when actual words fail him mostly labeling all things, emotions, and people “Da Da”. I, as most children, struggled to find accurate words growing up. Crime Cheese left me with a picture of felonious bagel spread escaping the law. Height Dog left me unsure of my ability to eat this porkbeefchicken treat anywhere other than at the highest peak of a ferris wheel. Spork and Skort still blow my mind, as I spent years thinking all spoons had jagged edges and all skirts had built in shorts. It’s all so confusing, no?

    For as long as I can remember, I sat in my grandmother’s living room, determined to be a part of the “adult speak”. Despite my epic failures in forming sentences and properly comprehending words, I wanted to be one with the big girls. During one of my Great Aunt’s visits to Nashville, I perched per usual on a tiny stool in the living room. I was just sure that this would be my time to shine. I would have something brilliant and shockingly sophisticated to say. Maybe we could discuss the gender confusion created by Barbie’s lack of private parts?

     A few minutes into the conversation, I stopped listening to the large words they were throwing around and could only envision myself sitting in the corner wearing a dunce cap. I NO FOLLOW THIS. I NO FOLLOW THIS IT ALL. Just a few moments later, amidst the chatter of politics and religion, my sweet Great Aunt went and wrecked my world. In one fell swoop she tossed out “penal” and “abreast“. Surely these are not real words, I thought. Surely there are no two words more confusing and misleading than “spork” and “skort“. I realized then that THIS.IS.WAR.

    Growing up in a family of fancy-word-users and adjective-placement-correctors has taught me this: Some people will use outrageously large and hard-to-prounouce words simply to sound smart making you, by default, sound like a total idiot. It is an argument winner. It is a testament to their knowledgable and educated minds. It is a total pain in the arse parts.

    After years of exposure to such expansive vocabulary, I had become wholly prepared for encounters with these Multiple Syllable Offenders in the world outside my grandmother’s cozy living room. They are everywhere and they are waiting to make you feel a little dumb and a lot confused.

   In highschool I had an English teacher who could twist and destroy any simple message by overusing outlandish words. “Please turn your book to the second chapter” turned into “Elect to circulate one’s literary text to the second most of thirteen parts.” I was good at reading, writing, even speaking at this point; nevertheless, her insistence on appearing that much smarter than the rest of us was infuriating.

     As I neared adulthood, I found an even more absurd crowd of verbal show-offs. Men in bars. As soon as I let slip that I was in college working towards an English degree or even that I read books, this peculiar brand of males flipped on the smart switch. Suddenly the sloppy water ring smudged across the wooden bar top from a sweating can of Pabst was contorted into a philosophical lesson on life, death, and other wordy subjects. Before one of those men could fully utter “Philosophically speaking…” I had escaped to the ladies room or pretended to pass out, face first on the bar. I am smart. You are smart. Can’t we all just use small words?

    My entry into the professional world wasn’t much better. Much worse, actually, because of a definite lack of beer and ways to escape conversation. Years of grammar and literary training under my belt, the sense of confusion and stupidity had long since vanished. In its place was a deep seated hatred for these conversational assailants, jumping at the chance to one-up your very logical, very simply-stated sentence.

     My first boss was a sassy, frizzy-permed lady who had a hankering for winning a conversation (even when the conversation was not-in any way- and argument or debate).

ME: “Hey ya’ll, is there another cartridge for the printer in the back room.”

Boss From Hell:”Ya’ll is not a word. What you meant to say is you all.”

ME: “Ok.”

Word Nazi and Killer of Joy In General: “By ok I assume you mean I understand.”

ME: “Yes. Is there another cartridge or …”

Biatch: “See, the southern use of ya’ll fascinates me. I’m from the North. We just never think to use that imaginary term.”

ME: “But you say Yous Guys, which is dumb.”

Perm Face:”Well, grammatically, yous guys could be broken down into…”

ME: “I quit.”

There were many before her and, I know, many more just like her. With all great battles (World War II, Presidential campaigns, Top Chef) it is best to be prepared. Strategy is key. Here is mine:

Surrender: “Yes. Totally. I concur.”

OR

Distract: “Have you heard about the new strain of Camel Flu?”

OR

Flee: Simply stand up and leave the room…quickly (Even a light jog and/or jumping over immediate obstacles such as sofas is acceptable.).

Do not feel trapped by these word-twisting, outsmart-ing whackos because, in the end, whatever you say can be said one hundred different ways, most of them better. But you say what you say the way in which you say it…. small words and all.

Desiderating the masses mighty peregrinations.

In SIMPLER words,

Wishing ya’ll a great weekend!

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156 thoughts on “War of (BIG) Words/ Battle of Smahrt

  1. I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I watch the Housewives of Beverly Hills. Kelsey Grammar’s wife is on the show and she is the worst offender EVER for using large words – and the best part is, she using them in the wrong context. Love it.

    Congrats on being pressed. (Said as short ‘n sweet as possible.)

    http://yourlifesentence.wordpress.com/

  2. You. Nail. Head.

    Thank you for sharing. Once people learn of my master’s in journalism, conversation changes quickly…yet I tire easily when those around me automatically erupt into pretentious speak.

    It made me grateful one day to be at the gas station, pumping gas, no journalism master’s degree in sight, when a nice looking yet predominantly monosyllabic guy shouted, “Hey, got a boyfriend?”

    Alarmed, I responded, “No.”

    His next question: “You want one?”

    I declined, but I was grateful for the “real” conversation. ;)

    • Love it! Your absolutely right about having “real” conversations. Aren’t those interchanges of thoughts? If someone is putting up an elaborate front, then there is no real talk going on.

      This article was a great bit on what many of us perhaps struggle with even as adults. Simply loved it!

    • Hahaha! Oh, this made my day. He could be missing teeth, and I would probably still take him up on the offer. Isn’t it refreshing to get a point across without all the extra fluff?

    • Thank you!
      Just checked out your blog. It makes me feel a little lazy and a lot motivated all at the same time haha! Keep running, and writing, and being generally awesome!
      -Tori

  3. Great topic! Although I still believe somewhere deep inside me lies an english teacher, I try very hard not to correct people even though what I hear comes out WRONG! Great to hear another viewpoint and I say keep it simple, say what you mean with out all the words you have to ask “what’s that” to!

  4. This is hysterical! Reminds me a bit of my post this morning, in which I rant about what we’re calling our kids in America these days. I blog from Port-au-Prince and try to take a sometimes serious, but often also, amusing look at life here in Haiti. Congratulations on being freshly pressed and Happy Holidays from my small corner of the Caribbean!

  5. OK, you had me blowing snot bubbles at Crime Cheese and Height Dog! You are one funny chica. My favorites were a popular 80′s song with the line an Egyptian friend misunderstood. He asked “What it mean “everytime you go away, you take a piece of meat with you”? Also, at the impressionable age of six, I got rape and rake all mixed up from a movie showing at a drive in; I’ve been terrified of gardeners ever since! Congrats on Freshly Pressed and keep the giggles comong.

  6. Every time I hear someone say that y’all is not a word, I just want to say “Is so!” in my best disgruntled five-year-old’s voice. It’s part of the southern dialect, people!

    I am now ashamed to admit that I’m a big and/or obscure word user. It’s not something I do on purpose or to seem smart. I just LOVE WORDS!

    I love your take on it, though!

  7. Ha! Ya’ll is absolutely a word. Absolutely. In the ultimate act of Southernism, I caught myself using it in Spanglish the other night as I left a party, as in, “Buenos noches, ya’ll.” Literally.

  8. I lived in Texas for over 13 years and I found “y’all” to be remarkably efficient. I live in Chicago now, where “yous guys” runs rampant.

    This northern term always leaves me with the impression that the seemingly intelligent person to whom I am speaking is actually a member of the “Outfit” (as they call the mafia here), bent nose and all.

    Congrats on Freshly Pressed. I hope y’all have a fantastic day!

    http://hilbitwrites.wordpress.com

  9. Y’all is not imaginary! It’s a contraction for “you all.” “Youse guys,” however, is imaginary. As an English teacher, I felt it was my duty to give you the ammo you need for such language-retentive jerks :)

    Loved this post!

  10. I used ya’ll until an English teacher in junior high told us that correct grammar would be used in her classroom and any student using improper English (by her definition) would suffer the consequences.
    Unfortunately, her example has not lasted. After all of these years, I find myself using ya’ll from time to time.
    Thanks for a great post. It made my day!
    Happy holidays!

  11. Love this! My husband is a big word user and i find myself smiling and nodding and letting him speak but secretly I want to run to the dictionary while yelling “stop it my brain just pulled a muscle!”
    We have a history of making up words around here, i.e. poopenfrafenfrafa. Yep my kids will need therapy soon.
    My kids were notorious for pronouncing words wrong…gramote (remote) refrigdidator (refrigerator), doot doot (guitar) cocoke (chocolate milk)…the list goes on and on!
    Congrats on being FP’d!

  12. As my elementary ed kids used to say, “Sesquipedalians RULE!!!”

    And, yeah. Y’all is certainly a word in my Texan’s vocabulary ’cause not to use it is to lose part of myself.

    Kudos on your post.

    • Well, I had to look that up ( I have to look up a lot of words!)

      “ORIGIN mid 17th cent.: from Latin sesquipedalis ‘a foot and a half long,’ from sesqui- (see sesqui- ) + pes, ped- ‘foot.’ ” *

      What a laugh!

      *Thank you Apple dictionary

    • Yes, indeed. “Y’all” is the contraction of “you all”, so the apostrophe goes in the place of the omitted letters (here, that’s the “ou” … and the space). Thanks for asking. (It’s a peeve.)

  13. I really enjoyed reading your post. It was very entertaing and you have way with words no matter how small.

    Can’t wait to read more,
    -Alisha :)

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  15. Proper English grammer does not represent intelligence.
    My brother after a severe head trauma chewing gum in the hospital drawled….”I am masticating synthetic latex.”
    He sure sounded a hell of a lot smarter after having his brain operated on than before.

    So from gmom,
    see y’all!

  16. This is great! It’s so true! I have always been fairly good with vocabulary and grammar, but I save it for my writing. As soon as someone starts using large words to sound smart, they merely end up sounding pretentious.

    Keep up the great writing.
    <3 Milieu

    (PS: I do kind of have to agree with your ex-boss's opinion of "y'all." I'm sorry…)

  17. I love this post
    congratulations for being PRESSES!!! hehehe
    its not about how you said it should be on how you deliver it!!!
    NICE JUSTIFICATIONS!!!
    hope to read more blog post from you…

  18. I’m was born and raised in the South with parents/family members who also used correct grammar. I have a friend who says ‘yous guys’ and we have had so much fun ‘picking’ on each other. Glad to see so many who have had that language barrier problem that I have had.

  19. Some people will use outrageously large and hard-to-prounouce words simply to sound smart making you —– this is SO ANNOYING lol I know someone who LOVES to do this… I’m like, you’re about to choke on those words if you don’t stop lol

  20. I once had a boss tell me that saying, “I would imagine”, is the same as saying “I don’t know” when I tried to speculate on something. She said it in that snarky I-understand-words-better-than-you-do tone.

    She didn’t.

    I looooooooove words. Heart them a million times over. Unfortunately I’m one of those people that tends to use so-called “big” words with more frequency than most. But I don’t do it to try and sound smart. I just simply love words. I completely agree with your post, however. Some of the authors I read throw in an obscure synonym every now and again and, for me, that disrupts a story more than it enhances it. :)

    • See, you totally get it, Ali Pants! We are fortunate to have a language with long, flowery, absolutely beautiful words. They just don’t need to be used in all day, every day!

  21. I have discovered that after I have had a few glasses of wine and I’m having a conversation with somebody, I will tune his part of the conversation out of my mind in order to use most of my brain power to think of clever words to plant in the conversation. Minus the wine and I completely agree with you! Great post!

  22. Loved your blog! Congrats on being Freshly Pressed! I have always loved words, be they big, interesting, French, curse, etc. They just say sooo much and can express all you want to say, my biggest problem is as I’m aging,
    trying to get my tongue around a word when I need it now is hard. I love writing because I can reread and fine tune everything I say. I love colloquialisms and accents, but I don’t understand where they originate from…or why…if I was young again I might study them, they are very interesting

    evelyngarone.com

  23. I love your post. I love words, all words, out of context words, big words and little words. I read the back of cereal boxes. I am obsessed with words, but a really, really great wordsmith, Ernest Hemingway said, “Less is more.” One of the most powerful scriptures in the Bible, “Jesus wept.” John 11:35.
    Congratulations on being fresh pressed. and Merry Christmas to all!

  24. So true! My english teacher is constantly using words that the rest of us won’t even learn the meaning of in our lifetimes! I can’t stand it!

    -Ashley

  25. English is a wonderfully rich language. Sesquipedalian words are fun, but they carry a price. You run the risk of people not knowing what you are talking about, or perhaps worse, thinking you are pompous. Word choice is an elegant art and some are masters of it, while others are neophytes. I like unique, rare words. Yet, I like an author who can convey profound ideas with simple words.

  26. I have read through your post twice now and after the second reading a quote from the memoir of Jen Lancaster popped into my head: “Don’t use big words where small words will do”. And as far as the word “ya’ll” is concerned, as a lady from the Texas “you all” just sounds (in the words of Sue) like “a crime against nature”.

  27. I find it funny, you know.
    I was always fascinated by words! more so the bigger ones and whatever.
    But I’ve always felt like I want to use the words that nobody seems to use anymore.

    But then it always makes me feel bad if it makes me sound smarter.

  28. The english teacher you mentioned, could you imagine what a blog of his would be like? Great reading if you’re an insomniac I’m sure. Geez.

    Where I come from, you don’t have to even use small words to appear smart. Just come from another state, and you’ve got it wrapped up!

  29. One of my favorite writers is D.H. Lawrence He was a master at using biggish words, he really knew how and just when to place them, so that his work flowed like a beautiful essence, and you wanted to read his short stories over and over again.
    Some writing can be so dull, without a fuller use of the English language. There is nothing as magical and entrapping as a well placed longer word. Read some Lawrence, and you’ll see what I’m implying.

  30. Yes. Totally. I concur!

    Some stuff needs to be complicated because the concepts involved, or the technical specs, or whatever, are tricky. And sometimes, like in literature, playing with words is fun. But for ordinary, everyday use, keeping it simple is usually the best plan.

    The things that particularly get me are the acronyms you hear, especially in business environments, where you’re made to feel like an outsider unless you’re in on the jargon. How is anyone supposed to keep up with the tens of thousands in use? You can fight back by slipping invented ones into conversation (there are plenty of acronym generators on the web – hours of amusement).

  31. I enjoyed reading this, you are one smart lady. Its smart to adapt to any conversation, K.I.S.S. keeps this girl humbly happy.

  32. I dig words, I dig them a lot. What I do not dig are people who use big words fluently in that ‘hey look at me I have a ginormous vocabulary’ type of way. These people need to make their peace with having infinitesimal or beggarly wang doodles.

  33. Haha! Great post! I only do this every once in a great while. I know a lot of “big” words, but tend to forget them. ;P So I’ll end up spending a good half hour trying to think of something funny to say where I can use the big word, and I just end up failing all over the place. xD

    As long as it’s all in good fun I don’t mind… But being snarky about it? Oh no! That’s a b*tch move right there. LOL

  34. LOL this was a hilarious post. People need to get there are certain places where it’s “okay” to use big words and striking up conversations in a bar is definitely not the place to do it. Just because some of us like to use small ORDINARY words in every day conversations doesn’t mean we’re stupid. Small and to the point FTW! Congrats on being Freshly Pressed :)

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  36. I’ve tried to maintain an egregiously overblown vocabulary in an inadvised attempt to remain dominant over my adolescent sons. All it has done is make them read the dictionary to find even bigger words. Failing that, they pull out a math formula.
    And y’all is too a word. You is singular, y’all is plural, all y’all is plural plus everyone else.

    • Haha. I totally agree with abusing “big” words for parental domination. I am lucky. So far my 1-year-old can only say ‘dog’, so it’s pretty darn easy to out-speak him :)

  37. I agree that people who use huge words just to sound more intelligent than you are arses.

    On the other hand, I would say that it’s the duty of teachers (particularly English teachers) and parents to ensure that children are aware of the words in question so that they have a defense against them and are able to use them to full effect.

    Also, a lot of people I know use complex English words as a second nature, rather than because they want to sound intelligent.

    And finally, a friend of mine has a great story about his stag party where they went to a strip club and another mutual friend was completely uninterested in the lovely ladies… until he found out that one of them was studying to be a lawyer. So the men in bars may be have just been happy to find an attractive woman they considered to be their intellectual equal, although I suspect they were just trying to impress you.

  38. That’s how I started drinking coffee. My mom and dad drank coffee and I wnated some. I am hooked on coffee. I love it. Brasilian coffee to be exact. My wife is Brasilian. Great blog. My old English teacher Mrs. Music would destroy my use of the English Language. I love easy words.

  39. My mom wanted to be an English teacher. She became a nurse instead but she has spent many many years correcting out language and grammar mistakes….oh well y’all….a’int it the truth?

  40. I am always amused at people who think they are smarter just because of the way they speak. I consider myself quite intelligent with a fairly high IQ and prefer to speak like a “normal” person. I may use certain words in conversation with my daughter, in order to teach her new vocabulary, but it’s pretty much guaranteed that I won’t be using most of the those words in my daily conversations. I loved your post and think many can relate! Congrats on getting freshly pressed!

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  42. I’v been told that I regularly use “big words” in every day speech, and I just wanted to say that it’s not on purpose. I never intend to use big words to show off how “smart” I am, it’s just that they’re such a part of my vocabulary I don’t even think of them as big words. Once, I was talking to my dad and I used the word protagonist, and he stopped me and asked why I didn’t just say main character, or hero/heroine. To be honest, I just didn’t think of protagonist as a big word because my classmates and I had been using it regularly in English for several years at that point. So, while I can understand what you mean about language nazis (my dad was a stickler for always making us pronounce our -ings, though he hasn’t been completely successful), and it sounds like the boss you were talking about is one of them, I just want to point out that not everyone who regularly uses big words is a show-off. Also y’all is definitely a word; one I use regularly, in fact.

    • I have a tendency to use big-ish words too. I think the intention behind someone’s words is the bigger deal. If a big word feels right to use or comes more quickly to you than a smaller, more common word then by all means, let that big word flow! My irritation has always been with those select few who use large words only to appear smart or confuse people. It’s like someone sneezed and they caught a killer case of passive aggressive! If you use (as I do) larger words when they seem natural and only for the purpose of better explaining your point, then there is no bad intention there, just a simple want to make yourself clear!
      p.s. My full name is Victoria, and I fully intend on starting to spell it all cool like yours! Also, if your last name is Rockingster, we need to be best friends. That is a superhero name if I’ve ever heard one!

  43. ha ha, it’s funny that people of “big” words are all over the world, trying to impress and “dominate” through their speech. Unfortunately, what they fail to realize is that they are probably just showing off their most dominant feature, not being able to rise upwards through anything else

  44. This is awesome! People are really pretencious sometimes. I read somewhere that there are two types of word abusers: those that struggle to find words at all and use too few, and those that use too many words to say something that could have been said much simpler.

    And also, since when are we supposed to say everything the way we would write it? They’re called dialects…

    Great post :)

  45. I’m going to make a major WordPress.com faux pas here and not read the 90-0dd preceding comments before making my own. (Simpler terms: this might repeat someone else’s comment.)

    You are hysterical! Like a lot of other people, I saw this on Freshly Pressed, and I’m going to add you to my daily blog crawl–your writing style is so witty and light, but you manage to make some pretty hefty arguments at the same time. I find that incredibly admirable. You see, I’m also a student of English studies…I’ve tortured myself so far as to get to the final stages of a PhD program (expected date of release: August 2011!). Your post smacks of how I feel when talking to anyone who isn’t a graduate student: absolutely absurd. My program was filled with arrogant know-it-alls (who weren’t as cute or endearing as Hermione Granger), so I felt compelled to pull out the $10 words at every occasion. I’m recovering from that now. I feel like an infant trying to relearn language skills and enter into the dialogue of the non-academic world. (Which, joke’s on me, is a much larger world than the academic one I’m still stuck in.) Thank you for writing a post that gave me an opportunity to laugh not only at myself but also at the people I encounter every day. I truly believe that with a little more help, like this blog post, I’ll be well on my way to recovery. ;)

    (And I am absolutely certain someone else has already said this…but, like I said, I’m going to insist on embarrassing myself with a faux pas here.) It drives me crazy when people claim that words like “y’all” and “ain’t” aren’t words. “Y’all” is easier to tackle. It’s just a contraction of “you” and “all,” so to claim that it isn’t a word is as absurd as claiming that “don’t,” “can’t,” “isn’t,” and all the other lovely contractions aren’t perfectly acceptable words. “Ain’t” is a little more challenging but etymologically appealing, if you’re into that sort of thing. And, assuming you are, allow me to put on my truly annoying and potentially pompous teacher hat. “Ain’t” is the linguistic response to the lack of a contraction for “I am not.” There are contractions for all other negative to-be forms: you aren’t, s/he isn’t, we aren’t, they aren’t (hell, even y’all aren’t). But there’s nothing for “I am not.” “I amn’t” never caught on because it is too hard to say. Through the power of linguistic development, we drop the “m” (actually at one point used an “h” instead of the “i”) and ultimately are left with the perfectly correct contraction “ain’t.” And still…the spell check in this comment field insists on underlining it. The truly arrogant bastards will tell you that the only time you should use the word “ain’t” is when you’re using it in the negative “I am” form.

    Linguistically justifiable or not, I just can’t use the word “ain’t”…it’s part of that graduate program, you see. It’s sucked all the Southernisms right out of me. Except “y’all.” It can’t take “y’all” away from me!

    Thanks again for such a great post, and congratulations on being Freshly Pressed! :)

    • Ok. Your comment had me peeing my pants a little bit (only in the BEST way). You need to write a book and maybe title it ” I Done Got The Southernisms Sucked Outta Me”. Love it!
      I am totally with you on the legitimacy of ain’t and y’all. They (technically) make total sense!
      Thanks so much for reading, and congrats on your upcoming release from the confines of Snarky Literary Speak! FREEDDDOOOMMMM!

  46. You all speak as if a ‘Southern’ accent stretched over several time zones. Yet Brooklyn NYC and the Valley in LA have their own dialect.

    Teachers who demean students are bad, nevertheless correct and faulty ways of speaking do indeed exist.

    I used to motorbike from Bournemouth (south coast of England) to Stirling (central Lowlands of Scotland) and I encountered a very different accent at each stop (at least three) for fuel, over a mere 640 kilometres.

    Yes, languages and accents evolve, but there is an ideal state at which to stop. I left the North of England aged 18 and quickly came to loath my native Tyke aka Oik.

    The Mid-Atlantic accent developed by watching movies and playing records is the perfect way of speaking English. I know because I speak it and I sound ever so nice, so there.

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  48. This was an awesome post, from someone who actually LIKES big words. I’m an owner of a Word of the Day Calendar, but I have so many friends who abuse words in the way you describe. Really…your sentences do NOT have to contain words with 8 syllables a piece. Be concise. Make your mark in the vernacular. If your a sentence takes me longer than 5 minutes to read, the sentence must either be a.)in Swahili, or b.)filled with WAY too many lengthy words. Great post! Congrats on FP!

  49. While I agree with the overall theme, I must say that sometimes certain words just … “fit” better. Saying that someone is a misogynist is often more appropriate (& shorter, therefore simpler) than just saying he hates women.

    But yeah … got me hard on that Men In Bars thing. I’m in Mensa & sometimes this will come up. We’ll be engaged in a friendly debate & one of my girl friends will say, “My girl’s wicked smaht. She’s in Mensa.” Then, suddenly, the puffery begins. It’s almost like it is considered a threat or a chance to prove that there is no way this cute chick sitting next to him could possibly – oh no, heaven’s no – be smarter than him … even though up until this point, I’d been saying things like, “Dude. I don’t freakin’ care if you’re off the boat Irish; if you don’t like Guinness, you’re a fraud.” & so there comes the “On the chance that one would like to pontificate regarding the significant social symbolism of the traditional stout of the Gate of Saint James’ brewed masterfully from the waters of Dublin’s majestic River Liffey, then perchance one could reasonably affect a legitimate argument. However, blah blah blah skibbidy bop dee bop schwa blargh….” When all he would have had to say was, “Totally, but I was just sayin’ that Ireland Guinness & American Guinness taste different.” Then, instead of rolling my eyes at him, I would have simply raised my pint & said, “You’re damn right, my boy. Fancy a shag?”

    Or, y’know, something like that.

    Anyways, like I was saying, I agree mostly with you. It’s annoying as all hell. But what is equally – if not more – annoying is when people (cough cough certain former politicians cough cough) not only incorrectly use large words, but then chastise anyone who dares correct her, er, them. “Well, I’m just a simple lady from the real America; I don’t have a fancy degree like those elitists.” No, honey, you’re a dummy & there is nothing wrong with being intelligent or, y’know … having a firm grasp on the English language – especially when in three more tweets, you’re going to insist that we adopt it as our official language & demand that all immigrants speak it.

    But … I digress.

    In other words … you tell ‘em, sister.

  50. Love this blog. Love your style.

    To Mrs H: What dyou mean there’s nothing for “I am not”? There was a ‘gifted’ kid on TV the other week here in the UK who didn’t want to go to school. His mum tells him he has to go, to which he responds “Why? I aren’t learning anything” – magic.

    OK I must admit I like the ability to understand big words. What irks me now are big/uncommon words I don’t know. There are just too many words! And I can’t remember new words as much any more : – (

    I sometimes use big words inadvertantly with friends because they are perfect for replacing a sentence or phrase, and it really rubs people up the wrong way. I don’t try to be clever with people. Is it my fault for knowing a word or your fault for not knowing a word? Is it academia’s fault for making it seem attractive to use complicated words?

    I’d like to blame academics. I read a lot of technical stuff, and I HATE it when they just don’t make things simple. Especially when your explaining something!

    I must admit if you told me you studied English I might start spouting crap. Just because it’s nice to use words that fit in a sentence, which you avoid using normally. Absolutely not because I’d be trying to show you how smart I am. No, not I.

    But more than big words, I love simple straight foward lingo. Say it like it is.

    I love accents too.

  51. Thank you for sharing this post! I have an MA in English and have met too many of the “pretend-tious” ones. Not my cup of green tea. :-)

    “Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” Dr. Seuss

  52. Loved this post! I’m glad others feel this way too, I’m studying towards a master in English, and not being a native English speaker I’m always extra nervous when placed in front of one of the people you describe. Maybe I should just be clearer about how I dislike this way of talking in the future, rather than feel insecure about my own fluency.

  53. I love this! As a songwriter, I used to get down on myself for being “too simple” and not “poetic enough” I have turned over a new leaf. It is nice to listen to a song and just get it. I prefer things simply put. There is so much beauty in the simple things even the simple words.

  54. I have to admit that I haven’t met any people like this, unless I can count the number of people who use the word “ironic” incorrectly in some attempt to look clever. This happens to be one of my big pet peeves; if you don’t know the meaning of a word then don’t use it. Argh!

    Like another blogger said, academia can rub off on us. There are certain big words that I enjoy using, but they just slip out of my mouth naturally, it’s not something I do to try and show off. If I notice a bad reaction from someone, I’ll try and be sensitive to that by simplifying my speech.

  55. Great post– hilarious. And the “Fancy a shag?” commenter pretty much made me pee myself, too. Kudos.

    I think the argument is not as much between long and short words as it is between words that simplify and words that complicate. The whole point of language is that it should make it easier for us to understand one another, not more difficult. It’s okay to use long words as long as there are appropriate context clues– that’s why writing and conversing are such art forms requiring careful crafting!

    I have an English Writing degree and am an MFA student, and I don’t spend time trying to find the longest or hardest word– I spend time trying to find the *right* word. That should be the whole point!

  56. It is true, most of the time the profound things are found in the simple acts..or words. Nevertheless I love those tv series about LAW& ORDER such as, and the thing that inspire me is the way they interpret everything that happen by using “the language”. For other walks of life I otherwise agree to keep it simple. Even God doesn’t like too much words, but instead passion which can be found in the way you said it, not how much words you use, or sofisticated words. NO! life should be easy to carry, to communicate, to fellowship. Fun Writing of yours!!!!
    ~Great Love to you,
    Mirian from peelingtheorange.

  57. I used to brag about my vocabulary back in high school by using $10 words in 10-cent sentences. One time, at a party, I saw someone wearing a T-shirt with the words, “Challenge the world paradigm” printed on it. I asked someone who, at the time, I thought was my intellectual inferior, what a “[par-uh-di-jum]” was (that’s how I pronounced it). Incredulously she asked, “Do you mean ‘[par-uh-dahym]‘?” (She pronounced it correctly). I left the party and never bragged about my vocabulary again – or even felt like I could. Great post!

  58. You have it right. You can speak any given message a million different ways. I recently bought Lynne Truss’s book on punctuation and even editors will argue over just about anything concerning punctuation and grammar.

  59. I get you fully on this one! As a South African, we have so many terms that are unique to various parts of the country, I find that I need to watch what I say whilst dealing with clients.

  60. I hope I don’t get my head bitten off, but sometimes a big word is the best, and sometimes they are just fun. I was raised the granddaughter of two English teachers, and words were something to play with. When I got to school I found the sentiment wasn’t shared, and that being smart is like being fat, you will be the butt of jokes and not well liked. I pared down my vocabulary, but I till enjoy encountering a new word.

  61. the best example of this is in good will hunting – “Allegedly, what I am saying is your situation will be concurrently improved…I don’t know what your reputation is in this town, but after the shit you tried to pull today, you can bet I’ll be looking into you. Now the business we have here to for you can speak with my aforementioned attorney. Good day gentlemen and until that day comes, keep your ear to the grindstone.”

    http://dearexgirlfriend.com/

  62. It’s my belief that the majority of college learning consists of absorbing large quantities of extraneous vocabulary. People try to sound smarter by utlizing a wider scope of vocabulary, but that only fools fools. Anyone who seems too comfortable spewing such obscure dialogue obviously spends too much time practicing it on themselves in the mirror. Us regular folks don’t talk so fancy, y’all!

  63. Hey Tori!

    It’s an interesting post! Thanks for sharing!

    What about slang?

    Here is a poem I wrote… it contains some funny slang that Americans just don’t know – I guess…

    Curator of your life!

    by Stefan{at}MyTree.CH 02.12.2010 inspired by Tree Riviera – TREEhugger form the USA!
    Input: Divinity, Endurance, Unruffled, Puddle, Bashful
    Output: Cockney Rhyming Slang-PoeTREE!

    Is it all about bread and honey
    that you find in your sky rocket?
    It might sound extremely funny
    but you can’t shake hands with the fist in your pocket!

    What do you do when your plats hurt?
    Do you find divinity in a tweeting bird?
    What is the endurance of a blissful mind?
    Can you see the TREEspirit or are you completely blind?

    “Life is just a puddle of mudd?”
    Don’t tell porkies!
    You have everything you’ve got!
    So play some short keys!

    Once I had too many Britneys
    but I was still bashful for years
    so stay unruffled – use yer loaf
    and trust in the guy above
    on the Apples and Pears to heaven
    or on your flight on the 9th of 11

    Are you with yourself at strife?
    Well,
    become
    THE CURATOR
    OF YOUR OWN LIFE!

    *******
    It would be cool if you let me know your opinion…
    Keep it green and put MyTree on your screen!
    http://www.MyTree.TV

  64. When I took the GRE (which I did horrible on), there were words on there that I had never even heard before…made me feel pretty stupid! And I lived in the south- ya’ll is acceptable (even though I never used it).

  65. “Maybe we could discuss the gender confusion created by Barbie’s lack of private parts?”
    This post was a huge LOL moment.
    I’m a law student and we are infact taught to twist sentences and make them appear far more complicated than they actually are for the purpose of winning an argument/case.” But thats a job.
    But having ” a family of fancy-word-users and adjective-placement-correctors” as you highlighted is helpful but for self esteem.
    Congrats on getting freshly pressed!
    Words are hard.

  66. Haha, great post! I don’t usually say “ya’ll,” but I think it’s a fun word to use when you can’t be bothered to say “you all.” Congrats on the Freshly Pressed!

  67. This is funny. Well done. I actually found this while searching for amunition against “y’all” and “ally’all” and honestly, I’m not a fan of “yous guys” either! (lol) But, I need to relax and you helped me remember that.

    Personally, I don’t imagine I’ll ever start using any of those words, I just don’t find it all that hard to say “you all” or “all of you” but as of now, I’m going to be striking them off my pet peeve list. (the goal is to not have a pet peeve list at all)

    Thanks for the reminder – and the laugh.

    • Lisa, you are so right. “You all” really isn’t so hard to use. I find that living in Tennessee, throwing in a good “y’all” once in a while can go a long way!
      Thanks for reading,
      Tori

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  79. I am late…a lot late….to the party on this one.
    It doesn’t change the fact that I am cracking up over here, though.
    Just the other day my husband said something like, “Oh, you’re soooo smart. You use biiiiiig words.” (I think the word was apathy??)
    Evidently, I have a problem. Lol.

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