Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The economy of words

C is for cookie,

that’s good enough for me.

C is for cookie,

that’s good enough for me.

C is for cookie,

that’s good enough for me,

Oh, cookie, cookie, cookie start with C.        Cookie Monster, “ Sesame Street”

 

 

I was reliably informed that the word soiree was misspelled on my law firm’s Christmas Party invitation. What the word soiree was doing on the invitation I will never know. It is not going to be a soiree, for the simple reason that no French people will be there. You can’t have a soiree without the French. Just like you can’t have a surrender without the French Army (unless you can get the Italians).We use too many words in this country. By that I mean not only too many different words, like soiree and café au lait (which is actually a phrase), but just too many words period. A careful reader might notice that my use of the word “period” in the last sentence was redundant, there having also been a “period” placed at the end of the sentence. Why this plethora of words ? You see, there I go again. Why does the English language need the word plethora, a Greek word, when there are plenty of Anglo-Saxon words which can convey (or better, which mean) the same thing ? More importantly, why did I just use 150 words for an idea I could have conveyed in the following manner / “Americans use too many words”. There, that would have saved you 147 words to have to read before you deleted this blog. “Blog”, who the hell needs that word ?

 

It is this use and misuse of words which have been my downfall. When I started this blog, I was only going to write 400 words a day. As I warmed to the task, the  blogs started getting longer and longer. 600-750 word blogs are pretty standard for me now. I have had some that have gone over 1200 words which is not as much a blog as a readers death march.

 

The whole point of the 400 word blog was to write something that could be easily read, even upon the frequent occasion when the content of the writing lacks any merit at all (most mornings). You don’t feel like you have wasted too much time when you have only read 400 words. 1200, now that’s another kettle of fish all together. What kind of fish, or what kind of kettle for that matter I don’t know, but it is all together different.

 

The best American song ever written is set out above this piece. In the classic, “C is for Cookie”, the Cookie Monster was able to convey three strong ideas with the use of only 12 words. That is economical writing. If it were prose you would cut out the repetition, but the repetition  is necessary for a song. Note all the words, strong Anglo-Saxon words like cookie. The Cookie Monster did not sing about a biscotti, nor would he have considered doing so. First of all, biscotti starts with a “b” and it would not have fit. Second, the Cookie Monster’s audience would not have known what a biscotti was. That has been my problem. I have not been writing for my audience. People who read blogs don’t want to spend any real time reading the, If they wanted to do that they’d buy a book and read something worthwhile. I am going to make a concentrated effort to cut these blogs down to size, right after I finish this one.

 

 

3 Comments:

Blogger Rayda said...

C is for Croissant!

6:03 PM  
Blogger Jannie said...

la la la la
la la la la
Elmo's world
La la la la
La la la la
Elmo's world!

9:52 PM  
Blogger Jannie said...

Actually, the average person uses only about 2000 words regularly. And you probably 3000 being an atty with a plethora of them as in heretofore, insomuchas, hereafterknownas, etc.

9:54 PM  

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