Is it a sin to use big words?

It seems anathema to me that our marvelous English Language that has grown from strength to strength to its amazing current status of 171,476 words in current use, and 47,156 obsolete words (and the additional 9,500 derivative words that are likely to be  included as sub-entries).
Source: The Second Edition of the 20-volume Oxford English Dictionary which contains full entries for all the above words.
So why skimp and scrounge with this embarrassment of plenty we have inherited in the way of words that are expressive, obfuscating, long, short, simple, complex, descriptive, emotive, onomatopoeic and …well i guess you get the drift. It’s like owning a dozen pairs of shoes  using  only one pair every day…why have the others at all???


What I find really neat about the American prose/conversation style is that the focus is on getting the key points across always. It is not too concerned with proper spelling, or grammar or enunciation, etc. If the text or the spoken word is clearly understood and can be acted upon, that is satisfaction enough. This makes for communication that is economical, crisp and readily understood. Many of us who come from backgrounds where Britain ruled or had colonized the land and imposed the Queen’s English, may tend to be critical of this lack of attention to grammatical finesse and detail on the part of the Americans so to speak. But this easy style kinda’ grows on you…and you soon begin to love how unpretentious and real it sounds.

There is a subtle context of ‘foreplay’ I feel when it comes right down to it. The typical British English user is more than likely to seek words that best articulate a fully formed thought or even a passing idea not yet fully crystallized.
The speech therefore comes out much more finessed than a typical American English user would be able to execute. I am not saying either one is wrong – just that they utilize a somewhat different set of objectives in their choice of words. The one (British user) is predisposed to consider all the niceties that the language can bring to bear on the conversation, where the other (the American user) would tend to parse it down to the bare bones, unconcerned with niceties or embellishments – so long as the point gets across. I do not believe there is any overt or covert belief that American’s come across as abrupt…just that their use of the ‘Queen’s English’ is somewhat…’improvised.’

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