In Jacqui’s post, Stephen King was quoted as saying that a simple word, with its purported directness and lucidity, is usually better than a longer one, with its clumsy pretentiousness.
There’s a happily intuitive appeal about King’s view. I mean, do I really want the 2L students in my First Amendment seminar, the night before their papers are due, to raid Roget’s Thesaurus, looking desperately for pseudo-scholarly substitutes for “significant” and “odious,” in some vain endeavor to gravy over an otherwise substantively mediocre paper?
But should King’s dictum apply for everyone? Take the satirist David Lodge or, for that matter, Christopher Hitchens, with their luscious grammar and deft—no, masterly—grasp of English. (Lodge and Hitchens, both British,. . . that wasn’t intentional, by the way,. . . please, no accusations of America-bashing.)
I find their vocabulary, multisyallbic and challenging, to be gorgeous and illuminating, the sort of stuff that I wish I had written, not just for their substance, but their fabulous style.