Sunday, June 20, 2010
Homer's Mother: You know, Lisa, I feel like I have an instant rapport with you.
Lisa: (visibly moved) You didn't dumb it down. You said "rapport."
I know how Lisa feels. I appreciate when people use finer word selection. I particularly love when someone uses a descriptive term I don't know. I like to use the word predilection. It is a little more specific than tendency, which carries no implication of desire. To me, that is an important differentiation.
However, I have discovered over the years that many people are bothered when someone is more specific in their word selection. They complain scoffingly about the use of "big" and "complex" words.
I see this occasionally in blog conversations. It seems to happen a lot in political or religious discussions. How I see it progress usually is that a person who has bullet-proof belief in certain positions gets frustrated when the cliche' explanations, that worked so well at their church or within their political circle, don't get very far in an open conversation with people of opposing (or just differing) points of view. Because the depth of their argument isn't very deep or nuanced, they start to attack the other person. With me, they usually attack my use of words. Recently, a gentleman accused me of using "big words and phrases" to "sound" right (just for the record, my conversation was no more linguistic than this post). It never surprises me at this point to hear the person speak, in an almost prideful sort of way, about their lack of vocabulary, or education, or knowledge on a matter. It is almost as if to say "I know I don't know my topic with any depth, and I therefore can't give a good explanation of my position.... but I still KNOW I am right!"
Has anyone else seen this phenomenon? How do others side-step the conversation with you? The above approach works with me in a way, because I usually just quit the conversation at that point.
I touched on this topic a few years ago in an article entitled Religious Illiteracy, where I quoted a person from a blog I frequent. She stated her ignorance about theology, but then proceeded to say her points were not open for debate.
Posted by Andrew at 5:15 PM