It would be unwise to underestimate the importance of choosing the right word. Often the inability to make the appropriate selection is a vocabulary deficit but there are other reasons such as laziness and a curious imperative to impress by using a ‘clever’ word. As a tactless communicator, I frequently regret my choice of words but that should not prevent me from offering an opinion on the issue – indeed I am replete with opinions.
When I hear a Radio 4 ‘communicator’ using the word ‘Disencourage’ I pause to wonder whatever happened to ‘Discourage’. In similar vein why do people now say ‘Administrate’ rather than the rather simpler ‘Administer’? An inadequate education means that I could never claim to be a linguistic purist, however it is disappointing to hear public figures repeatedly say ‘at this moment in time’ when ‘now’ seems to be a more succinct option. All that said, my favoured example of linguistic complication is a US Tennis Commentator who asserted that a player was loaded with ‘intestinal fortitude’ in an age when most of us would have said ‘guts’.
So far the foregoing has focused on the more trivial aspects of poor communication skills but now is the time to consider the utilisation of some words that have deep societal impacts. Many would contend – myself included – that we live in a world in which such words as ‘rights’ and ‘litigation’ are used too frequently. In response to those two over-used words allow me to suggest some that might be more helpful in oiling the wheels of a decent society: ‘Personal responsibility’; ‘Parental responsibility’; ‘Duty’; ‘Respect’; ‘Fairness’; and ‘Privilege’ – as opposed to ‘rights’. Needless to say I would never dare to include the word ‘discipline’ or even ‘self’discipline’.
Just another random thought and now – back to the Malbec.