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Old 01-02-2013, 04:15 PM   #61
twowheels
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Originally Posted by BadBilly View Post
You right! Words bad! Short good!
Words are very good. Too many words, like too many of most things, are clutter.

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Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.
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Old 01-02-2013, 04:16 PM   #62
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Originally Posted by DiapDealer View Post
And that really seems to threaten many people for some reason. Can't say as I understand the phenomenon, myself. I'd never dream of expecting other people's vocabularies to my conform to my own personal, preferred lexicon. Nor would I immediately assume that an author who uses words that aren't a part of my own vocabulary must be trying to "impress" someone.

Knaggy
I'm not threatened, I'm just cranky that I'd have to go to the dictionary to find out his skull was long and narrow. I still mostly read on paper, which means going to the bookshelf and looking words up in the paper dictionary. It seriously impacts the flow of my reading. As stitchawl says, if the word is obscure, it better be worth using. There are times when I'm happy I looked up a word, and times when I'm irked. I'm not sure I can easily explain the difference, except to say that I didn't feel the word was worth using in the latter case. Yes, it's a matter of taste, but so are most parts of literature. I don't think there's anything wrong with making a bad face if you're mouthing something that is not to your tastes, and giving up if it happens too often.

If Dexter's use of obscure words is part of his schtick as an author, then looking them up is something his readers expect to do. Fine for them. I found I needed the dictionary a lot while reading Nabokov, but didn't resent it at all, as I knew the prose was carefully crafted for effect. So, I think there's more to this than intellectual fear.
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Old 01-02-2013, 04:21 PM   #63
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I agree.
It makes you wonder; is the writer's purpose here to impress or to inform?

Well. Definitely not to inform. We are talking about fiction books here.
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Old 01-02-2013, 04:49 PM   #64
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Originally Posted by rkomar View Post
So, I think there's more to this than intellectual fear.
I'm certain of it. But it's the seemingly immediate leap to "presumptuous," or "trying to impress" that I don't get. Surely "not my cup of tea" would be a more logical starting point wouldn't it?

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I don't think there's anything wrong with making a bad face if you're mouthing something that is not to your tastes, and giving up if it happens too often.
I have no problem if people stop reading the works of authors who use a vocabulary that doesn't seem to "flow" in a way they prefer. That's only natural. We like what we like. It's the knee jerk reaction by many in this thread in assigning some sort of failed ulterior motive on the part of the author that I find puzzling. If you find a particular passage distasteful, I'm cool with that. Frown away. But that's not the same thing as the "the author is trying to sound smarter than us with his big words" vibe that I was getting from many in this thread.

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Old 01-02-2013, 05:57 PM   #65
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I look up the dirty words.
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Old 01-02-2013, 07:25 PM   #66
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Originally Posted by twowheels View Post
Knowing nothing of the book in question, that looks, to me, like an author throwing around vocabulary for the sake of it. It's far too wordy IMO, indicating unfamiliarity with the word.

Perhaps:

'The thaw continued overnight, and l[. L]awns[,] that had been totally subniveal the day before[,] were now resurfacing in [irregular] patches of irregular green under a blue sky.'

That said, I'm neither a writer nor editor.
Ask as biologist if they would ever use the word 'subniveal' in this manner. If describing the snow-free zone in which rodents travel under the snow cover, the term 'subnivean layer' is frequently used. Does the writer intend to mean that the lawn was snow free? Or was the intent to say that the lawn was simply snow-covered? If so, I don't believe subnivial would be correct usage. It feels more like the writer just added it in for color, without really understanding its meaning. He saw the prefix 'sub' and the root 'niveal,' and thought it would work to mean 'under the snow,' rather than its real meaning.

Stitchawl

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Old 01-02-2013, 07:58 PM   #67
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Oh dear. I see on my dictionary log that I have recently looked up both "approbation" and "disapprobation." Apparently I am losing my ability to learn new words!

eP
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Old 01-02-2013, 08:49 PM   #68
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Originally Posted by elemenoP View Post
Oh dear. I see on my dictionary log that I have recently looked up both "approbation" and "disapprobation." Apparently I am losing my ability to learn new words!

eP
I've been transcribing Burt's Polish-English dictionary into digital format. It's tedious work, but I figured it wouldn't hurt to see all those new words and learn them as I went along. Maybe I wouldn't need the dictionary as much later! Well, it's mostly in one ear and out the other, as they say. Maybe the shear volume of words is swamping my ability to learn, or middle age, or... whatever. I'm not retaining much, if anything.
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Old 01-02-2013, 09:07 PM   #69
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Reading the definitions of words is interesting, but for most people, the only way to increase our vocabulary is to 'use' the new words in our daily speaking. Just reading then doesn't seem to do it. While we might remember their meanings, they don't automatically get added to our normal usage.


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Old 01-02-2013, 09:30 PM   #70
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Originally Posted by Stitchawl View Post
Reading the definitions of words is interesting, but for most people, the only way to increase our vocabulary is to 'use' the new words in our daily speaking. Just reading then doesn't seem to do it. While we might remember their meanings, they don't automatically get added to our normal usage.


Stitchawl
Thanks, Stitchawl. I'm giving you approbation for your response.

eP
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Old 01-02-2013, 09:43 PM   #71
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Originally Posted by elemenoP View Post
Thanks, Stitchawl. I'm giving you approbation for your response.

eP


Thanks, but this sort of talk might go to my dolichocephalic head!


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Old 01-03-2013, 12:46 AM   #72
twowheels
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Originally Posted by elemenoP View Post
Oh dear. I see on my dictionary log that I have recently looked up both "approbation" and "disapprobation." Apparently I am losing my ability to learn new words!

eP
Dictionary log? Is this a feature of the Sony reader? I've often wanted that!
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Old 01-03-2013, 01:33 AM   #73
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Ask as biologist if they would ever use the word 'subniveal' in this manner. If describing the snow-free zone in which rodents travel under the snow cover, the term 'subnivean layer' is frequently used. Does the writer intend to mean that the lawn was snow free? Or was the intent to say that the lawn was simply snow-covered? If so, I don't believe subnivial would be correct usage. It feels more like the writer just added it in for color, without really understanding its meaning. He saw the prefix 'sub' and the root 'niveal,' and thought it would work to mean 'covered with snow,' rather than its real meaning.
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Precisely, Colin Dexter is simply a man with a very rich vocabulary, who makes full use of it within his books.
Or the author simply has a very big dictionary at hand?
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Old 01-03-2013, 10:07 AM   #74
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I don't know about introducing me to new words, but this thread has certainly introduced me to a new author. <runs off to find books by Colin Dexter now>
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Old 01-03-2013, 10:24 AM   #75
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English is my third language so the built-in dictionary is very helpful.
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