I have a decent vocabulary that includes a few five-dollar vocables I might casually drop if I should ever find myself at a Mensa meeting. Words like terpsichorean, which refers to dancing, and even better, boustrophedonic, which describes the plowed furrows left by a turning ox (or tractor).
But generally in my writing I eschew such terms because as a reader, I find they pluck me out of the story and plop me back into the reality I intended to escape.
I’ll make an exception, though, for the novel my book club recently read: Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, by Gail Honeyman. Set in Scotland, the story is about a socially backward woman who devours books she selects at random, and even though she’s not intending to sound erudite, her speech often has a textbook quality. So when Eleanor sent me to the dictionary a number of times, I wasn’t annoyed because I understood this to be an important character trait.
Some of the words:
- friable: easily crumbled
- rhotic: an adverb describing dialect in which the “r” sound is hard (e.g., American Midewestern, as opposed to Scottish)
- badinage: humorous or witty conversation
- rebarbative: unattractive and objectionable
Your thoughts? Leave a comment.
You must do the thing you think you cannot do.