Originally Posted by MikeTodd
Oooh, "meretricious mockies"!
I can hardly wait to use that in a sentence!
That's a good one!
vocabulary falls into classes: unusual or uncommon words that can actually be used if you know them; and obscure words that really can't be used, for one of a number of reasons. i see no reason to resuscitate obsolete words, or words for which there is a better modern synonym; or to use words of multiple syllables rather than shorter words that mean the same thing; or foreign words when there's an english expression for the same thing.
my main interest in words is for their analytical or comical value. hence my attraction to amplexus: a scientific word unusable except that it means frogfuck, and so, in the right connection, is priceless. you dont use obscure words to be showy, that's cheap; you use them to be funny, because they fit the rythm, or because there's no short, common equivalent
i follow mencken's approach - one should always be intelligible and clear. that way anything the reader doesn't understand is on him to look up - and when he does, he is rewarded. he learns something. expands his circle. every word used for a reason, that was how mencken did it. not the same as forcing every word to be a weightlifter, the hemingway approach. writing is partly about producing effects, and that may necessitate set-up, which involves fat, lax, layabout words, the weeds from the humor croc springs irwinward to deliver the bite that delights.