The English language is a beautiful thing. It can roll, spit, lollop, leap, sneak and hiss from our tongues evoking meaning, richness, or rudeness. It starts wars, makes peace and is filled with aesthetically pleasing words. Mooch, mither, ginnel, gander, pedant, Chthonic, cathartic, there are so many obscure and common words in the English language and each serves its purpose or has done once upon a time.
No matter how archaic or academic a word is, as writers we should not shy away from using them. Even if our readers don’t know what the word means they may well grasp the meaning from the wider context of the sentences, paragraph and chapter that surrounds it. We shouldn’t be dumbing down our writing, but elevating our readers to enjoy, use and understand the diversity and clarity a wide vocabulary can bring. Even if some readers skip over the word and remain ignorant of its meaning, some will read it and not digest it, there are others (like me) who will internalise, analyse and generally exude glee at learning more of the language. Part of the enjoyment of reading is the discovery of new words and meanings for me.
Language is our greatest tool it allows us to communicate our deepest and most preciously held values and emotions. It describes in the most intimate details our surroundings and the smells, colours, sounds and tastes that complete the scene. It can communicate the most abstract and obscure philosophical or scientific idea. In short, language well used is the writer’s best method by which they can place the reader into their fully formed world and allow the reader to imagine it in the most concise detail.
English is a verbose and grand language, we have such a choice of words. When writing the decision we make about which word we choose to use in our writing will slightly alter the understanding and imagination of the reader. Therefore we should use obscure, unusual words. We should use the words that precisely communicate our meaning and we should do so unabashedly Language is our friend and when cared for and tended it serves as the best tool we have to explain exactly our meaning.