Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Books + The English Language’ Category

I am writing this article to raise public awareness of an epidemic that poses a great threat to our society.  This virus has proliferated for decades, but because of its insidious nature, has remained somewhat undetected.  The disease is known as LDS, or Lexical Deficiency Syndrome, which manifests itself notably in teenagers.  The symptoms of LDS include a dangerously basic vocabulary, and subsequently, a sharp decline in that individual’s public image.

Well, let’s be realistic; although Lexical Deficiency Syndrome may not be catalogued as an actual illness, I believe it jeopardizes American society quite a bit more than the avian flu.  Every time I hear a monosyllable, I can hear the framework of America crumbling with it.  While every four-letter word disheartens me, every sesquipedalian rekindles my faith in humanity.  Although most people would not consider elocutionary deterioration to be a serious threat, I undoubtedly do.

One practice, in particular, makes my blood boil: some people will occasionally scorn or even mock those who exercise their vocabularies.  It disgusts me to see that some people have such an aversion to their own native tongue.  Words were not made to be the objects of contempt.  Should one laugh at one of Monet’s landscapes?  Should one ridicule Shaquille O’Neil for being able to sink a shot from half-court?  Personally, I think it would be more appropriate to laugh at those whose vocabularies comprise mainly three words: “like,” “whatever,” and “y’ know.”  People who use these words incessantly really don’t have anything to say at all– they commit linguicide every time they open their mouths.  For that reason, if a sentence contains any more than two or three “like’s,” then it probably isn’t worth listening to.  I am quite convinced that if some people wouldn’t spend so much time with their “like’s,” they’d have a lot more time to spare in between sentences, and would probably have a lot more time to breath the fresh air.  In short, try using more colorful words and less pedestrian ones.  Now, of course, this is not to say that one must be bombastic or pretentious.  Pepper shouldn’t smother your dinner, it should just “kick it up a notch.”

The English language is not only a method of communication—it is an art, a method of expression.  One should use the English language as Horowitz played the piano, as Michelangelo painted.  Vocabulary adds depth and richness to an otherwise blasé phrase.  It is the method by which we can turn a “happy family” into a “jovial domesticity,” or a “bright light” into an “incandescent luminosity.”  Beautiful, isn’t it?

                                     —-was published in Newsday on Feb. 9, 2007.

Read Full Post »