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Pompous language

Pompous or unfamiliar words

A pompous morpheme is inclined to obfuscate the purport of the scribe. Furthermore, to compound the aforementioned enigma, an undetermined slew of scriveners are wont to utilise a multifarious and loquacious lexicon which befuddles their scholastic contemporaries on a quotidian basis.

Writers should aim to use words which their audience will understand. However, some academic writers prefer to try to impress their audience by unnecessarily using words which are only understood by a small minority. Wherever possible you should choose a simpler, yet equally precise, word (if one exists). It is often preferable to use simple, concrete words rather than ‘pretentious’, abstract ones (unless these are clearly required in the context). You should remember that when you publish an article it is likely that the journal will be available as an e-journal and so it will be accessible to an international audience.

Using words that few people will fully understand helps the writer to hide what is being said or to appear to be saying more than is really the case. This is only useful if you have nothing much to say!

Remember:

  • Shorter words have fewer syllables. This helps reduce the heaviness of the writing.
  • Familiar words cause you, the reader, no hesitation, whereas unfamiliar words cause a momentary pause as you work out their meaning. These pauses have a cumulative effect.
  • Choosing words which are longer or less familiar than they need to be results in a text which seems inflated and pretentious.

Examples

  • accentuate - stress
  • ameliorate – improve/help
  • circumvent – avoid
  • cognisant - aware
  • commencement – start, beginning
  • effectuate - cause
  • elucidate - explain, clarify
  • enumerate - list
  • envisage – expect, imagine
  • in lieu of – in place of/instead of
  • materialise – happen, occur
  • notwithstanding - even if, despite, still, yet
  • occasioned by – caused by, because of
  • optimal – best, ideal
  • paradigm – model/example
  • reiterate – repeat, restate
  • terminate - end
  • utilise - use
  • vis-à-vis – in relation to/compared with