With so many Zoom calls being made and many people wanting to speak on different subjects I find quite a few speakers are trying to impress their audience with the kind of language they use, especially in using high sounding words: The bigger the better, and it makes no difference if nobody understands what is being said, we want to impress people with how we said it! A friend used the word ‘malodorous’ in his speech the other day.
“Why didn’t you use a simple word?” I asked him later on the phone.
“You’ve got to start using big words Bob,” he continued, “malodorous means smelly!”
“So why can’t you just say smelly or stinking?” I asked.
“You got to impress people,” he said, “make them feel you know words they don’t know!”
“Okay,” I said, reading from a paper “here’s something for you: “A research team proceeded towards the apex of a natural geologic protuberance; the purpose of their expedition being the procurement of a sample of fluid hydride of oxygen in a large vessel, the exact size of which was unspecified.”
“One member of the team precipitously descended, sustaining severe damage to the upper cranial portion of his anatomical structure; subsequently the second member of the team performed a self-rotational translation oriented in the same direction taken by the first team member! Okay so in simple English what does this translate to?”
My friend at the other end of the phone appeared puzzled, “What the hell was that all about?” he asked.
“Big words,” I laughed, “simple thoughts put in a lofty way!”
“I give up!”
“Okay,” I said, “Its Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water. Jack fell down and broke his crown and Jill came tumbling after!”
“You mean all those big words were that silly poem we learned in nursery?”
“Sounded pompous didn’t it?” I laughed.
“Overbearing and pretentious!”
“Ah!” I said, “That’s what the late president Woodrow Wilson’s father felt about speeches his son made! Woodrow Wilson while standing for the President of the United States used to rehearse his speeches in front of his father! His father used to listen to his son intently and suddenly interrupt saying, ‘what did you mean by that Woodrow?’ And Woodrow Wilson would carefully explain what he meant”
“And what did his father say?”
”Old Mr Wilson would turn to Woodrow and say, ‘then tell it like it is son, don’t shoot a bird with a cannon ball when buckshot will do!”
I could feel my friend breathing heavily, “I get your point,” he said slowly, “Especially about using a cannonball when a bullet would do! We need to say it simply, right?” I smiled in answer and said, “Language is for you to communicate, not to impress and leave people as ignorant as they were before your zoom call. In other words KISS your audience?”
“Kiss?” asked my friend and could I feel him blushing?
“KISS” I said, “means KEEP IT SURPRISINGLY SIMPLE.!”
“Malodorous!”muttered my friend to himself, “Bob, you should have told me KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID!” and we both chuckled..!
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