Simple Colloquial-ish Words or Hard SAT Words?

Posted March 25, 2016 by Maryam in Imaginative Discussions, Maryam / 7 Comments

Imaginative Discussions

Disclaimer: I apologize in advance if I offend anyone, author or blogger, but I am sincerely just curious about this particular topic.

Here’s a funny thing that happened: A friend of mine saw me typing out the title of this discussion post, and then proceeded to ask “Wait, isn’t colloquial a difficult SAT word too?” I just shrugged, because honestly? I have no idea. My English teacher would always wrote those words in huge, red ink on my essay, and I would of course, be dismayed and saddened because yet another reminder that my English is not as fabulous as I wanted it to be.

Many people relate to reading books with gaining more vocabulary, which in turn, makes us into amazing English geniuses. I’m right, no? How many of you have heard of the sentence from your teacher that if you want to write better in English, you have to read more? But then again, as I look at my horrific attempt at writing a story, I contemplate this. Is it true? Maybe. I’m saying that there’s not a definite answer to this question because people read for different reasons, and what they took from that reading, well, it depends on the person itself.

And that brings me to my discussion for today: Should books have simple, understandable, informal-ish words? Or should they bring out all the hard, decorative words? Most people would immediately raise their hands up high and said, “Of course we would want the simple word, rather than the hard ones. We do want to understand the story!” But you should not ignore those who would prefer to read books with fanciful words, because these people, they want to learn the words, the language.

The two main things you should understand here are stories VS languages. Which do you take away from the books when you’ve read them? Do you take away the words, those new flowery words that you’ve stumbled upon, or do you take away the story instead, spurning your own imagination?

Me, for example, I don’t really listen to the words. I’m not the kind of person who would reach for a dictionary just to get the meaning of a foreign word that I did not understand. Rather, I would reread that sentence until I get a rough idea of what it meant, and just move forward. This is because what I’m looking for in books are the stories. I love having new stories in my head, because I like the idea that they’re expanding my imagination. I have never liked reading something for the sake of just understanding new words, which was what my English teachers did to my class a few years back. They would actually give us comprehension passages that consisted of at least five difficult words and expect us to learn them. English was never my strong suit; hence, you can expect how horribly I always did for my comprehension and vocabulary tests. The only thing that salvage my English grades were the fact that I wrote amazingly creative essays, if I do say so myself.

Back to the point of this whole discussion, I do admit that books with hard, flowery words turn me off. Like, hi, I really have no idea what you’re saying so I’m going to put you down slowly and never pick you up again. I’m serious. But that honestly doesn’t mean that I hate the book. It’s just that I don’t get it, so if I don’t really understand what the heck is going on, how could I possibly love the book, right?

But then again, I get annoyed at informal words. I have read a book before that sounded so informal that it kept saying, “I miss him v. v. much.” UGH, PLEASE. This was REALLY informal, and a quarter into the book got me feeling so annoyed that I DNF-ed it. I guess there should be that invisible space in between – that space between informal and hard SAT language should be what most of the readers want. I mean, we do all want something that is easy to understand, but also not to grate on our nerves, right?

So my question to you would be this:

What do YOU think? How do you like the words in a book be phrased like? Are you the kind of person who loves those hard, difficult words, or would you rather read something that has simple English?


7 responses to “Simple Colloquial-ish Words or Hard SAT Words?

  1. I am studying writing at the moment and something that we get told a lot is that sometimes you have to kill you darlings. Meaning that sometimes those beautiful, flowery words/senteces need to be taken out, because of how they change the reading experience or it not needed.
    I love when I read something that is beautiful, but like you. I want to be able to understand what I am reading. I don’t want to be thinking the whole time about words.

    What a great discussion, thanks
    Angel @Angel Reads recently posted…Book Review: Walk the Edge by Katie McGarry – Blog TourMy Profile

  2. I think there’s an important distinction to be made here: there’s a difference between esoteric words that very few people know, and non-slang language that can emote and evoke. I’m a big fan of the latter. English is a crazy language, and should be used to its full extent in conveying things- thoughts, images, feelings, plans, you name it. I think throwing in clunky words is distracting from that, just as using only 8th grade level vocabulary is insulting to an adult (and YA) audience. I’d rather an author assumes that I’m intelligent and that if I don’t recognize a word I’ll look it up (or figuring it out in context)…assuming, of course, they aren’t letting big words get in the way of the story. 🙂

  3. I would definitely say that I prefer to not have to be looking up a lot of words, but I’m also not opposed to having a few words here and there that I’m not familiar with — as a reader, I would expect any particularly unusual words to be couched with enough context that I can still catch onto what’s going on. The writer’s goal should be to convey the story, and while one particular word can change how interesting the story is to read, it also shouldn’t be the critical point to keeping up with the story. After all, so many of us skim when we read!

    As a writer, this is something that I used to struggle with a LOT. I typically end up taking the approach of just trying to stay natural, then on go-backs I’ll consider other interesting ways to word things/intro other vocab, etc.
    Liza Barrett recently posted…Sunday Post: March 27My Profile

    • YAY a comment from a writer! HEHE but yes, I do agree with you. I tend to look out for new words for my vocabulary, but at the same time I don’t want to be bored of a book just cos I’m spending more time looking at the dictionary than the book itself. Thank you for your input!! 🙂

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