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Old 18th August 2011, 09:45 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Re: My Blog -- Articles on Writing

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Did you actually read the article Peter?
Oh, yes. And I largely agree with you. I was just extending the debate. The same arguments which lament a shrinking vocabulary are also extended to lament poor grammar and sentence construction. That's fine - and I am a fully paid up lamenter - but nevetheless I felt it relevant to put the other side of the argument.


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It's about the narrowing of our vocabularies, as words disappear or become so general in their meanings that they cease to mean anything at all.
The contrary view is that a shrinking or reduced vocabulary causes those words which remain to take on subtle, multiple or new layers of meaning. It's not about the number of words you know, but how you use them. Richness of expression might come from quantity, but will certainly come from quality. I remember slang words from my youth had very subtle meanings - which proper grown ups rarely understood - and I don't doubt that it is the same today. Not just slang, either - words with an accepted meaning can be subverted and/or can come to mean something very different. "Proof" and "quite" are old examples of this phenomenon, but the more recent tendency to use "bad" to mean "good" is another example.


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It's about the way our language becomes less exact so that our ability to communicate becomes less.
I'm not sure our language does become less exact - and even if it does, is exactness such a good thing? This is where the new usage of words comes in - to provide additional depth to the words which remain. An exact system has no such flexibility as meanings are all too often - and wrongly - regarded as immutable.


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The article was entirely about an area where writers do have a choice: in using the language with precision, and not allowing themselves to be intimidated by those who complain if they are obliged to look up a word they haven't previously seen.
I agree. Don't get me wrong - I'm on your side. It's just that I'm not 100% sure that we are both on the right side. And even if we are, we look set to lose anyway. Is it better to use the language with precision or with love? One might naturally lead to the other, but must they always be bedfellows?

Regards,

Peter
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Old 18th August 2011, 04:15 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Re: My Blog -- Articles on Writing

Hm!

Interesting post Peter. I know that from a linguistic side your arguments are dead on. Living languages are always changing. Dead ones keep the same meanings because nothing changes.

My denomination has some radio broadcasts in foreign languages. (They do not ask the listeners for money -- He says with some pride.) and one of the languages is called something like "simplified English" it has a vocabulary of 3500 words, and is directed to those who want to learn English.

You could even make a case for two languages for English (and I suspect other living languages) one that is spoken, and another that is written. This kind of bifurcation was the beginning of what is now colloquially called High German and Low German. As well as some other languages with an elite use of the language and a common and spoken language. (Another example would be KOINE Greek.)
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Old 18th August 2011, 09:03 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Re: My Blog -- Articles on Writing

Since it's much more appropriate to have discussions on the individual articles as comments in the blog itself (and they really aren't particularly appropriate here in Writing Resources) I would rather we held this discussion there.

I do have an answer Peter and Parson, but I am going to hold off until we can all figure out a way to transfer our comments in in the proper sequence. In the meantime, I'm closing this thread, so there aren't even more comments to worry about moving.
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Old 21st August 2011, 09:59 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Re: My Blog -- Articles on Writing

I have posted a new article to my blog — so tremendously exciting that it took two posts to contain it. (Actually, the blogs are stingy in the number of characters they allow you per post.

REVISIONS <Cue the Spooky Music> I

REVISIONS <Cue the Spooky Music> II
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Old 11th September 2011, 07:02 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Re: My Blog -- Articles on Writing

I see I haven't kept up this thread. In case you haven't seen it already, the latest entry in my blog (another two parter) is:

Cynicism, Realism, Sensationalism — And Where DID I Misplace That Sense of Wonder 1

Cynicism, Realism, Sensationalism — And Where DID I Misplace That Sense of Wonder 2

Come on over to the blog and share your perspectives.
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Old 30th September 2011, 07:07 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Re: My Blog -- Articles on Writing

The newest article in my blog (another two-parter)

It's All In the Execution — On Originality and Style Part One
Part Two
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Old 11th December 2011, 01:37 AM   #22 (permalink)
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Re: My Blog -- Articles on Writing

I've started up my Chronicles blog again, with a new article, this one on world-building. It's another two parter:

No, your characters aren't in a play.

Part Two

Stop by and comment!
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