I used the word ‘inculcate’ in polite conversation yesterday.
I used it properly.
It made my co-worker’s eyes roll baaaaack in his head.
He recovered quickly, fortunately for me, but it got me thinking about how I use words and in what context and the fact that some people never read ‘It Pays to Enrich Your Word Power’ with their moms every time the new Readers Digest came in the mail.
My mom and I would do it every month, time each other by the kitchen clock's second hand, and record our scores. We usually tied (okay, sometimes she beat me, I’m being a total smart-ass). Afterward we’d go over the answers and point out those that could have, perhaps, been the answer if interpreted differently. I’d look up some of the more interesting words and confirm etymology, use them in sentences, say them in dramatic actor-style to my younger siblings that night at dinner.
Okay, yep, I was a word geek. Guilty. Fuck, I really was a geek, huh?
Sometimes I catch myself using words that are beyond the “can” of the person I’m talking to. Not that I’m doing it consciously! Really! Sometimes the perfect word is just longer and more unusual. “Obfuscate” just says so much more than “really really confuse or maybe lie or trick you”. Similarly, “verbose” just cuts such a different swath than, say, “wordy”. Even though I can understand the confusion this puts my listener in, I can't stop using those words. They just fall out of my mouth, barely making it past the thesaurus in my brain, and it specifically identifies MY meaning.
There are instances where I do dumb down. Necessity being what it is.
1) The Production Guys at work. They’re really nice, a little flirty, a lot bold, hard-working men. They’re great teasers, and if I ever say something like, “Boy, those shipments are sure proliferating as we move towards the holidays, huh?”, they would give me all sorts of crap about my high-falutin’ language. And rightly so. The correct thing to say would be something like, “Boy, you guys got a shitload of shipments to do before Christmas! Need a beer or somethin’?” THAT shows solidarity.
2) Children. It’s all age-appropriate. Until kids reach a certain reading/comprehension/intelligence level, they just won’t understand some of the things I try to tell them. Instead of narrating the long, involved, morally-charged subject of reproduction by mentioning seminiferous tubules and fallopian tubes and ovulation, I just use words like, “seeds”, “different”, “growing”. And NO, I haven’t had to have the big involved talks yet with the big words and diagrams and flowcharts. Oh god, not yet. Please. I’m still reeling from the boy-child’s revelation last night that the Tooth-Fairy is really just parents. AAAARGH.
3) When I’m having sex. Oh, come on, you know THAT’S true! That’s a base animal function. Why take the time to spout things like, “I heartily enjoy the sensation of your glans penis gently stroking my vulvar labial folds.” Why not say, “Fuck me!” Why not, I say?
Don’t get me wrong. In this here post thing, I will NOT always use the correct word. I will not talk in grammatically correct sentences. I may pepper my language with more cuss words and sex words and !exclamation points!! than a person should use in proper businesslike writing. But what the hell. That’s a “writer’s style”.
I will presently cease to engage in excessive loquacious language. And I’ll shut up.