I’ve just read this fascinating article by Will Self.
He has a point, so many of the cultural experiences we choose appeal because they have gone out of their way to be accessible, when perhaps great works deserve pondering and chewing over in order to truly appreciate them. Maybe it’s not a question of being obscure or difficult, more that they demand we invest some time and mental energy in comprehending their worth, and reward us for the effort. You wouldn’t bolt down a fine meal that a chef had slaved over to deliver, even if you would cram down something mediocre ‘on the go’ to fill an empty stomach.
I also agree that our use of language, and our vocabulary, has suffered from the growing popularity of forms of communication that value brevity above all else – think of the short, sharp, sparky and uncomplicated language of the average text, facebook status update, or tweet. I go out of the way to use proper punctuation in text messages; I will even seek out a semi-colon in the symbols menu if needed. If an unusual word captures what I am trying to express, so be it. It does give my texts a certain Dickensian feel, but I would rather my language was considered a little old-fashioned and florid than these symbols and words be lost to us forever.
And oh, I get angry if my fingers run away with me and my facebook statuses and comments are mis-spelt. I have often added additional comments to correct the error, which no-one else had noticed…
I should certainly play word dynamo more often, to broaden my repertoire… I used to have a ‘word of the week’ when I was in my teens, which I’d use at every possible opportunity – perhaps I should resurrect that. Join in! Pick up a dictionary (or try out dynamo for yourself), find a word you’ve never used before and have fun searching for a context to try it in.