Is it veridical to state that esoteric verbosity culminates in communicative ennui?

By: | Post date: 2017-04-11 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: English, Linguistics

The true and honest and equitable answer is the Magister’s: Michael Masiello’s answer to Is it veridical to state that esoteric verbosity culminates in communicative ennui? Vote #1 Michael Masiello. Vote early and vote often.

The petty and cavilling answer is mine. Others have gone part of the way there, but I’ll finish the task.

No, it is not veridical to state that esoteric verbosity culminates in communicative ennui. Because those are not synonyms of “is it true to say that using obscure words ends up in people getting bored with how you talk”. Big words have nuance. Big words have subtlety. Big words are there for a reason. That’s why you’re supposed to use them sparingly.

  • Veridical does not mean “true”. It means “truth-telling”. It refers to a commitment to reflecting the world accurately, it’s not something you can accidentally blurt out or stumble upon. And there’s a good reason the word is mostly used in psychology and philosophy, domains that are concerned with people’s commitment to truth.
  • Esoteric does not just mean “obscure”, it means understood only by very few select people, who are initiated into knowledge. The Greek means “insider”. It’s not the kind of thing that any fool can pick up a dictionary and learn; it’s supposed to be secret, and there’s a reason its connotation is one of cults and guilds.
  • Culminates refers to something that builds up gradually to a climax or achievement of some kind. You don’t culminate into a passive state, such as ennui. That’s your classic parturiunt montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. (Or anticlimax, if you prefer.)
  • Ennui is not just boredom. It might be just boredom in French, but that’s not how the word is used in English. In English, it refers to the kind of existential, weary, discontented boredom that makes you give up on life itself. A misplaced hyperbolic reaction to being bored by someone’s big words.
  • And communicative ennui does not sound like ennui about the communications you hear. It sounds like ennui about the communications you make. Like you’re questioning whether it’s worth continuing to live, as you’re stuck making inane smalltalk.
    • Or belittling people’s vocabulary.

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