Sunday, July 14, 2013

Otiose Lexicon

I recently read a book that I quite enjoyed.  I liked the story.  I liked the characters, for the most part.  I liked the overall idea behind the story.  That being said, I did have one issue with this book.  The book was a YA novel, however popping up every page or so was a word that I had no idea what it meant.  I will be the first to admit that I don't have an extensive vocabulary (not the greatest quality in a writer).  However, when writing something aimed at teenagers, with teenaged characters I kind of expect it to be written in a style and language that would reflect that.  At first I thought that maybe the author was just trying to incorporate new vocabulary words into our YA literature to help people grow their vocabulary. I can appreciate that because when I do come across a word I'm not familiar with I like to look it up, and with the help of a magic fairy and a whole lot of luck I might remember it, thus increasing my own vocabulary.  Not only did this become distracting for me, having to stop and look up words every couple of pages, but it started to make the characters a little less believable.  These were teenagers, after all, and they were using words I had never heard of.  As I made my way through the book these unfamiliar words started to annoy me more and more.  I started thinking maybe the author just wants the world to know how great her vocabulary is.  Here's a few of the words I came across in one chapter:

If any of you know what these words mean off the top of your head then kudos to you!  I did not.   

I don't typically like to give a lot of negative criticism, and I really did like the book, so I'm taking this as a learning opportunity for myself and my writing.  I think it's important to remember what crowd it is you're writing to.  And I think it's a wonderful thing to increase people's knowledge and vocabulary, but it should be within reason.  I think I'll stash this little nugget of information in some corner of my brain and hope that it will help me to improve my writing. 


  1. Hmm...interesting, and good to remember.

  2. I know whorl and hubris. The rest...clueless. You are not alone! :-)

  3. I've heard of all of these words except the first one. Many I know without being able to give a definition (is anyone else like that? You just know the what the word means, but you can't give a definition or explanation of it). I can say for sure that ameliorate means to improve or make better and hubris is pride.



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