Sophisticated Language – Is complexity necessary?

Language is often overused and it is an observation that I have made since I was young. But I have somewhat changed my interpretation of my observation. Before, it was laziness that somewhat satisfied my belief that a narrow vocabulary is suffice in expressing ideas. Now, it is my self-pride driven aim to achieve a good study score for English that has given me the opportunity to explore beyond my previous Ideology. It’s also my frustrations in expressing myself that have prompted me to search for better ways. I witness the fluency of English teachers’ use of language and I am somewhat impressed by the power of language. After all, it is necessary to be able to impress your view upon others and a wider vocabulary gives a scope to do this.

This is also where disparity between the language use of two people can collide. Language can easily leave us alienated. Why use a word that others will not understand? This is somewhat limiting for the listener, but it also inhibits the person’s expression of self. It is like many things in society – we cannot always abide to the conventional and a breadth of expression allows us to communicate uniquely. Cliche is one of the most deabilitating things, it forces us to converge, and I can see phrases becoming more and more popular – littered throughout social networking sites, it is the same thoughts that we hear that are starting to resonate exponentially. It is depressing. This is not to say that cliches are worthless. Use of cliches is inevitable. I am sure I have used heaps here in my writing. And it it is obvious that there is a reason that they have formed – it is because they have expressed an idea so lucidly, or perhaps, they can be applied universally to a variety of topics. As a Greek speaker, I see cliches transcend beyond languages. They are in a way beautiful, but they should be used with appreciation, not mindlessly. I should also bring up something that scares me… Kids are all being fed the same things (another minor cliche, why fed? Why not another word?). What is ‘taught’ in school, is pretty much the same. Why do we always associate the same thing with say, stars? Why do they twinkle? Why not sparkle, glimmer, flicker?

So, personally, I am trying to expand my vocubalary. It is not just that by the way. A good vocabulary does not make someone a good communicator. It is about many things, and aside from the grammatical aspect, voice is one of the most important things to develop. I sort of feel like I am losing it though. It is easy to simulate the writing of other’s, and that is fine in a sense, how many people have written over the years? Of course we are going to extract from what we liked. But it kind of shits me that in one of the major outcomes of improving my English this year, the VCE, unique voice will not necessarily be rewarded. It depends who is marking. Ideally I should not care about the mark. It is easy to become lazy though, I can write like someone else and achieve the same mark that I would have if I was writing in my own voice.

There will always be needless overuse of language. There will always be banality and cliche. I hope that I can transcend this, although it is easy to be slack and succumb to this. I can see that in my effort to overcome the language barrier that limits expression I am making mistakes. Sometimes I use the wrong synonym, rarely I forget the meaning of a word. But it is important to expand vocabulary and convey things differently to others. Verbally, I struggle to do this. In fact, a teacher of mine once said that I am “one of the few people who write better than they speak”. I think he meant it comparatively considering the speed at which you have to process things when you talk – of course people will be more fluent in writing. Hopefully I can progressively develop a well-defined personal voice that is evident in both speech and writing (and anything else that I do).


2 responses to this post.

  1. Alexei, firstly I would like the commend you for your wonderful turn of phrase as Ms. Costanzo would say. You make some excellent points, some of which remind me of my own overuse of the English language and why we endlessly employ the use of the same cliches, something I’d never thought of until today. Your remark in particular about personal voice I agree with very much, and it’s going to be a bitch since most of my subjects this year involve half-a-dozen different writing styles (I’m guessing you to?). And, you know me, I have a tendancy to ramble on about the most pointless of things. Back to the topic at hand, excellent post.


  2. Thanks for that Connor. I love the rambling! That’s part of your voice too, sort of like Holden Caufield haha (but that’s only if you rambled properly for three pages)… About cliche use, It is a pretty interesting concept that I became conscious of after reading John Marsden’s ‘Everything I know About Writing’. Good read, although some parts are obvious.

    I actually don’t have many humanities/writing-based subjects. Only English and Greek. And yeah, there are a lot of writing styles that you have to conform to which can be somewhat limiting. Which subjects are you doing? I’m guessing you have Costanzo for EngLang? I’m glad I only really have English because I only seem to write well when I’m in the mood for it, otherwise I lose my vocabulary and expression quickly.


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