The Polysyllabic Problem

Galleons, it’s been a while since I graced you with one of my angry rants. This is a situation I’m about to rectify, because I have a teeth-grinding, rage-spiraling mess of a rant that’s just begging to be let loose.

We’ll begin with a brief (and recent) anecdote:

While at work last night, I was discussing something with Chris, a middle-aged WoW player who has a soft spot for me (for reasons I have yet to determine). During said discussion, I used the word “vigilant” as part of a description.

Chris proceeded to halt the entire conversation just to comment on my use of “vigilant.” He mocked me for it, while I proceeded to get flustered and defensive (my usual- the foot-stamping, blushing, high-pitched voice kind).

As I walked away, him still chuckling at me (the conversation we’d begun left to rot in the realm of “what might have been”), I felt an overwhelming wave of disgust and anger come over me. Who was he to tell me what words I could use?

If this were an isolated incident, I think I’d be more apt to shrug it off and move on. But this happens to me all the goddamn time. In the last few months alone, I have been asked to define a word I use at twice a week. Hell, I’ve even been challenged to spell the words a few times (as if that’s a fucking challenge). Inevitably, people either make fun of me for my vocabulary or they get irritatingly combative about it, acting as if I’m pretentious or haughty for absentmindedly using a word that they don’t know.

So, I’m curious, galleons. Is there some manual out there that defines the right and proper boundaries of a person’s vocabulary? Because I’d love to get my hands on this. It would save me a world of trouble if I had the SparkNotes guide to catering to wanton ignorance. Truly.

I mean, who needs an expansive vocabulary? I surely don’t need it to text my BFF if I wnt 2 go 2 da muvees Sat. So, why would this bother me? Why would I be concerned by what basically amounts to a terrifying diminishing of our society’s average vocabulary? After all, as the oh-so-wise Cecil Adams once wrote, “even if our vocabulary is dwindling, so what? English, having by some counts the largest vocabulary of any language, surely contains more words than we really need. We’d be no poorer if desuetude, for one, fell into a state of itself.”

Christ, I can’t keep up the snark. This is just flat-out sickening. If we let our language be eroded away, what are we left with? A colorless mass that’s merely functional. There’s no artistry in a language that has forgotten its roots. Because that’s what those obscure words are- they are the history of our language. They are the building blocks of today’s words. They are the bridges to our daily speak.

Even more than that, these obscure (…seriously, though, how the fuck is “vigilant” even remotely obscure?) words bring subtleties and nuances of meaning to our language. If our average, daily vocabularies are the meat and potatoes of language, these colorful words are the spices we use to season the meal. We do not have “more words than we really need.”

Don’t believe me? In George Orwell’s 1984, the totalitarian regime of Big Brother has grafted a new language from bits and pieces of our own. This new language (Newspeak), however, has a severely reduced, simplified, and restricted vocabulary and grammatical structure. By limiting the vocabulary of the people, the government curtails any “alternative thinking” (or “thoughtcrime”). If you don’t have the words, you don’t have the means to form ideas outside the norm. You lose your imagination.

So do not tell me we have “more words than we really need.” We do need those words. These words are what fuel and shape our thoughts, allowing us to create and explore and discover and learn. Without a large vocabulary, we are boxing ourselves in, limiting ourselves in the worst possible way- in our own minds.

Therefore, to all the people out there who make fun of my vocabulary, who ridicule me for knowing more than them, I can think of no better reaction than a hale and hearty fuck you. There’s nothing wrong with me knowing and using polysyllabic words. If you have such a fucking problem with this, maybe it’s time to tackle your own glaring ignorance. Get out there and fucking learn something. There are plenty of ways to expand your vocabulary, the easiest being to read. Drop your gossip mags and motherfucking Twilight and pick up a book.

And if you come across a word you don’t know… I’ll let you in on a little secret.

Come closer.

Closer.

Closer.

*whispers*

There’s this magical invention called a fucking DICTIONARY. Bust one out every now and then, you jackasses.

And get off my fucking back. *shakes head in disgust* Cocks.

[Oh, galleons, I missed this. I think we’re going to be bringing the rants back.]

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