Vocabulary Matters

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Re: Vocabulary Matters

Postby wildlx » 18 Feb 2013, 09:46

Yes, I agree with Nurse Jo that there may be more of us than you are considering, Baker. I also agree that the use of vocabulary for showing off can be irritating/patronizing. So, I guess that you have to be careful with that. I guess that the final choice should depend on whom is your target audience. For example, I don't expect to learn vocabulary from typical lesfic but I do expect to learn vocabulary from literary lesfic. Moreover, nowadays, with ereaders you will have to consider that learning the meaning of a word is much easier. You will just have to press the word and the dictionary appears with its meaning.
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Re: Vocabulary Matters

Postby Sacchi » 18 Feb 2013, 11:07

I try to match the vocabulary to the point-of-view character, even if I'm not writing in first person. If that character wouldn't be likely to know the word, I try to find another one. This ties in with making sure characters from an historical period don't use terms that weren't used then. (And I try to do enough research to be sure of what they did or didn't know in a certain period, too, but that's a somewhat different topic.)
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Re: Vocabulary Matters

Postby wildlx » 19 Feb 2013, 06:03

Sacchi wrote:I try to match the vocabulary to the point-of-view character, even if I'm not writing in first person. If that character wouldn't be likely to know the word, I try to find another one. This ties in with making sure characters from an historical period don't use terms that weren't used then. (And I try to do enough research to be sure of what they did or didn't know in a certain period, too, but that's a somewhat different topic.)

That makes sense. The level of vocabulary people have differs widely.
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Re: Vocabulary Matters

Postby Proofrdr » 19 Feb 2013, 06:33

That's a good method of characterization. How a person speaks--vocabulary, sentence structure, accent--tells a great deal about them.
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Re: Vocabulary Matters

Postby Baker » 19 Feb 2013, 06:39

wildlx wrote:Yes, I agree with Nurse Jo that there may be more of us than you are considering, Baker.

Yes, there's every chance I'm underestimating. However, with all due respect, have you considered that this group may not be terribly representative of readers in general?


Wild wrote: Moreover, nowadays, with ereaders you will have to consider that learning the meaning of a word is much easier. You will just have to press the word and the dictionary appears with its meaning.

Again, you are correct, but I'm not sure the penetration rate of ereaders is so high that this is a general method of accessing the meaning of words. I'm fairly sure that, for instance, not everyone on this forum reads by ereader. (Elaine mentioned her not having one in a thread a few days ago.)


What we're talking about is a balancing act, that I consider part of the craft of writing. Let me lay out my vocab cred by saying that I will occasionally use the perfect word even though I have a fair idea most people will not know what it means, because the word is the right one and there isn't really a substitute. In one of my books, I used the word "escheat". I sincerely doubt this is now an oft-used adornment of the working vocabulary of many of the thousands of readers of that book, but it was utterly the right word.
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Re: Vocabulary Matters

Postby wildlx » 19 Feb 2013, 09:57

Baker wrote:Yes, there's every chance I'm underestimating. However, with all due respect, have you considered that this group may not be terribly representative of readers in general?

Of course. It maybe be true that, as you are implying, we are a minority. We are however a minority of buying readers. This thread reminded me of some of the fiction that is popular in sites like The Atheneum and Academy of Bards. Targeting such an audience would mean on average bad English and no difficult words. If you plan on more evolved readers using more evolved vocabulary may be a plus and not a handicap.

Wild wrote: Again, you are correct, but I'm not sure the penetration rate of ereaders is so high that this is a general method of accessing the meaning of words. I'm fairly sure that, for instance, not everyone on this forum reads by ereader. (Elaine mentioned her not having one in a thread a few days ago.)

Also true. But there is a trend towards the use of ereaders.

Wild wrote: What we're talking about is a balancing act, that I consider part of the craft of writing. Let me lay out my vocab cred by saying that I will occasionally use the perfect word even though I have a fair idea most people will not know what it means, because the word is the right one and there isn't really a substitute. In one of my books, I used the word "escheat". I sincerely doubt this is now an oft-used adornment of the working vocabulary of many of the thousands of readers of that book, but it was utterly the right word.

That word is quite popular in my country at the moment :). Or, more correctly, the Portuguese equivalent i.e."confisco", which is being frequently used to qualify the scandalous increase in taxes for 2013. I can guarantee you that if you use it here everyone will know what it means ;-).
I do understand the need to balance.
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Re: Vocabulary Matters

Postby Baker » 20 Feb 2013, 06:44

You talking with yourself there, Wild? ;)


Wild wrote:If you plan on more evolved readers using more evolved vocabulary may be a plus and not a handicap.

This is not the approach I take, and I think a writer would have to be a smidge arrogant to do so. I don't know who will read my books. I can't presume to make any judgements about unknown people. I write to entertain, not to be a selection agent for reader evolution.


wildlx wrote:That word is quite popular in my country at the moment :). Or, more correctly, the Portuguese equivalent i.e."confisco", which is being frequently used to qualify the scandalous increase in taxes for 2013. I can guarantee you that if you use it here everyone will know what it means ;-).

lol I bet. But the English means more than that, because escheat is a legal term with feudal origins and application. Okay, this is seriously awesome: I checked confisco in Google translate.

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I just love seeing all those words with different shadings of meanings in two languages.
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Re: Vocabulary Matters

Postby Proofrdr » 20 Feb 2013, 06:50

I love seeing all those Latin derivatives!
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Re: Vocabulary Matters

Postby Nurse Jo » 20 Feb 2013, 09:02

I just love seeing all those words!

Proof, you remind me of my mother - in a good way. She always gets excited about Latin derivatives.
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Re: Vocabulary Matters

Postby wildlx » 20 Feb 2013, 09:25

Baker wrote:You talking with yourself there, Wild? ;)

Is that a hint to stop writing in this thread?

Baker wrote: I write to entertain, not to be a selection agent for reader evolution.

Of course. But than again the quality of the prose, which also relates top the vocabulary used, will be a selector on who you may entertain or not.

Baker wrote:lol I bet. But the English means more than that, because escheat is a legal term with feudal origins and application. Okay, this is seriously awesome: I checked confisco in Google translate.

Yes. The feudal English law. I am not sure what is the exact term in Portuguese for such an appropriation of property or even if we do have one.

Baker wrote:Image
I just love seeing all those words with different shadings of meanings in two languages.


:) . Proof confisco comes from the latin confiscato, which means "join the treasure"
Last edited by wildlx on 20 Feb 2013, 10:57, edited 1 time in total.
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