Monday, September 2, 2013

Word Choice: Demographics or Competition

As part of my prep work for my next book, I am reading classic and contemporary romances and short stories.  One of the most glaring observations is the vocabulary used in the books I have read. Perhaps it is my choice of books, but the more contemporary the writer the few syllables their words contain. It seems at some point either the writing schools or the demographics have changed how writers chose words.

Here are some examples of words used in early twentieth century writing (left side) and (on the right side) the words used today.

  • voluminous – big
  • languorous –  slow
  • luminous – bright
  • unwholesome- nasty
  • immeasurable – vast
  • unilluminated – dark (today unilluminated is not considered a verb)
  • ludicrous- ridiculous
  • ruinous – harmful
  • momentarily –shortly
  • coquette – tease
  • proposition – plan
  • abjure – avoid
What caused the change in word choice? Is it brevity? Is a faster paced world? Is the demographic of readership changing? Is it competition with technology? I would be very interested in learning what you think has happened to change the vocabulary used in leisure reading. Why did we as a civilization evolve into tight writing void of the rhythmic syllables that sometimes drew the reader deeper into the story?






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