Big Words

One of the oldest criticisms, since I was juggling hormones with a declining commitment to homework, is of the words I use.

Over the last two years I have exposed my thoughts online with increasing self-honesty and sightings of this specific grievance have increased, ranging from accusations of deliberate long words, to big words, and the latest: smart words.

The running theme being, that the words are an affectation, I mean pretense, or I am being fake. This I understand, because the people who utter these criticisms, are the example of ad-hominem, in the modern sense, lashing out against a marginalising aggregator of a statement.

However — they don’t understand the reality. I will expound: If a foreign culture has a term for a specific event or sensation, and yours does not, they have a collective definition to organise discussion around that. Take mansplaining for example, like it or not this is a term in the collective consciousness and connotes disrespect, fitting in nicely with the bumbling male advertisement trope. In the west, it is well known.

Without this word, which I think is at least a medium-sized word, the concept could not find its feet among the public. This is what words permit, they expand your definitions, and then your classifications and thereby the systems that are built on the organisation of the definitions. This extends to computers, which have a word size or length, frequently 64 bit unless you have an older machine.

This raises an interesting point — if a word length is so relevant to processing power, then how is it certain words are maligned by certain individuals? Surely they would welcome an opportunity to expand their known lexicon, in order to upgrade their internal system. The more words you know, the less parsing required.

The answer lies in the opposing mode to definitional logic, that is the feeling state extended to groups. Your word choice is not the issue, it is that you have become, irrespective of intent, against one group or infringing upon the personal liberties of a person or demographic. This prompts a shaming response, to expose you.

Yet if you examine the criticism via the apparatus of logic you will find no barometer from which to gauge the statement. It is not a question of characters or syllables, nor infrequency of word usage or primacy of the meaning used. It is simply a revulsion against the divergence from expectation, the word is not common, like tachycardic used to describe an overzealous PC fan.

But, who determines what is common? The organisations and institutions that use mansplaining unironically. I would not wish to be so easily led that my definitions and words are chosen for me.

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