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Carborendum

Simpler Vocabulary

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I'd brought up this issue before.  But now I'm finding that my daughter has the same problem but worse.

She's finding that her companions and fellow missionaries find her vocabulary incomprehensible.  They accuse her of inflating her vocabulary. They don't seem to understand that this is just how she speaks.

She's struggling to speak in a way that others understand.  But she feels like she's being condescending when she does that.  So, it's a catch-22.

Any ideas?

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Could you expand on the problem?

I'm not a psychologist by any mark or means.  I'm not even close. 

I may also be the last person to listen to regarding any advice on how to write or speak simpler or shorter.  I tend to have a problem with people misunderstanding me in many instances.  One of the reasons I have long posts here at times is trying to elaborate and simplify what I mean to the point that people will understand...and I STILL get misunderstood all the time.  However, I will give perhaps some foolish ideas.

1.  Try to break down what she is saying into simpler terms.  This probably will make her talk a lot more though, and it may not solve the problem.

2.  Approach talking to her companions and fellow missionaries the same way one would a foreign language.  They speak a different language or with a different way of speaking.  One would need to break it down into their language or say it in their language for them to understand.  This can be hard at first as the way to talk to them can be difficult to learn, however with practice their forms of dialect and speech should become easier.

3.  Keep it short and simple.  Almost the opposite of #1.  Interact with them with short and simple phrases.  If you go to a foreign nation where you do not know the language, sometimes (at least my generation, they probably have apps on phones that do it or do it better these days) you get a phrase book.  It has short phrases that are normally understood and which includes common phrases that locals may say to you.  Keep to the short and simple phrases that are used by others in their everyday speech.   The obvious weakness is that you cannot really communicate anything deep with others.

Just some ideas, but as I mentioned above, I'm probably not the best individual to comment on this.

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You people and your fancy wordsmithing.   Here - let me help:

47 minutes ago, Carborendum said:

I talked about this before, but my daughter has it worse.

Her missionary companions think the words she uses are too big.  She doesn't want to dumb it down, 'cuz she thinks that makes her look like a jerk.

What do?

 

23 minutes ago, JohnsonJones said:

Huh?

I'm not too bright, but people don't get me either.  I vomit words to make sure people get what I'm saying, but they still don't get me. So here's my dumb ideas:

1.  Use smaller words.  But not too many of them.

2.  Have her pretend she's talking to people who don't understand English all that well.

3.  Keep it short and simple. 

I don't know if this'll help or not, but it's the best I've got. 

 

Seriously though - I learned a while back, that publications like the Wall Street Journal and the like, write at a 6-8th grade level.  It's considered a good business skill.  She'll probably be rewarded throughout her life if she develops the ability to speak plainly.   

Edited by NeuroTypical

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1 hour ago, Carborendum said:

I'd brought up this issue before.  But now I'm finding that my daughter has the same problem but worse.

She's finding that her companions and fellow missionaries find her vocabulary incomprehensible.  They accuse her of inflating her vocabulary. They don't seem to understand that this is just how she speaks.

She's struggling to speak in a way that others understand.  But she feels like she's being condescending when she does that.  So, it's a catch-22.

Any ideas?

Learn to ignore those who would shame you for how you talk. I heard someone say, "I was a people person until I got to know some people."

Over many years, I have developed some kind of weird speech patterns. I don't really know how, but I have always been concerned with expressing myself precisely. I think initially this was to avoid being blamed for miscommunications, but I discovered a taste for words and expressions. Participating in online discussion forums and becoming a professional writer both exacerbated those tendencies. ("Exacerbated"—really? See what I mean?) I'm much worse in this way when I write than when I speak, but it affects me in both areas. In the past, I have tried to take "corrective action", but that mostly involved "dumbing down" what I was saying, and I found that simply intolerable. So I finally figured, You know what? I am who I am and I speak as I speak. I will try to communicate honestly, clearly and unpretentiously with others. Beyond that, if they don't like my vocabulary, that's their problem. And if they're going to roll their eyes or laugh at me, whatever. It's a free country, at least until Biden's executive orders start taking effect.

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2 hours ago, Carborendum said:

I'd brought up this issue before.  But now I'm finding that my daughter has the same problem but worse.

She's finding that her companions and fellow missionaries find her vocabulary incomprehensible.  They accuse her of inflating her vocabulary. They don't seem to understand that this is just how she speaks.

She's struggling to speak in a way that others understand.  But she feels like she's being condescending when she does that.  So, it's a catch-22.

Any ideas?

A large vocabulary is amazing. However, in a teaching/selling scenario, you MUST speak at the person level. Perhaps the feeling of condescension is a sign that too much value is placed on her ability to use more precise wording.

There is sometimes a pride attached to specific skills or attributes we have that cause us to refuse to let go that in order to learn more important skills. Hopefully that isn't what is happening here, but if you and her are saying “everyone needs to be at my vocab level if they are expected to be taught”... then there is a major misplacement of value here.

Edited by Fether

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Ah, the age old question.  When I'm misunderstood, is it my fault for communicating wrong, or is it their fault for understanding wrong?  How much ownership should I take for crafting a message such that it will be understood?  How much responsibility is on the recipient to work until they've dug out my meaning?

 

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3 hours ago, Carborendum said:

I'd brought up this issue before.  But now I'm finding that my daughter has the same problem but worse.

She's finding that her companions and fellow missionaries find her vocabulary incomprehensible.  They accuse her of inflating her vocabulary. They don't seem to understand that this is just how she speaks.

She's struggling to speak in a way that others understand.  But she feels like she's being condescending when she does that.  So, it's a catch-22.

Any ideas?

It is my personal belief that when possible we should speak to what can be understood.  However, there are limits.  When I was in the army the level was such that I refused to use half of the words of the common vocabulary.   The biggest and most common objection I have heard in regards to our missionaries is that they are more suited to teach children than adults.  It is my personal belief that the L-rd can use many different talents - even among missionaries.  That the L-rd will bring a missionary that can speak to the understanding of those seeking to learn.  I would personally tell your daughter to listen to the spirit and speak as directed.

 

The Traveler

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It seems to me that the point of having a vocabulary is to be able to communicate ones thoughts to others.  If she's unable to do that, then her vocabulary might need to expand. Just in a different direction than most peoples.  

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This won't help Carborendum at all but this topic brought back fond memories.  When I was bishop our elders quorum president did not speak English as his primary language.  He carried a small notebook with him in which he would occasionally write.  I asked him about it.  He explained that whenever he heard a word he wasn't familiar with he would write the word in the notebook then work later on to learn it and use it in conversation.  That became a challenge for me to see how frequently I could get him to write in the notebook.

I asked a couple of years later if he still used the notebook.  He said he did but didn't come across unfamiliar words very often anymore.  He also laughed and said he never used it as frequently as when we were having ward councils.  Mission accomplished.

What was really funny was when other members of the council - native English speakers - stopped me to explain a word.

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4 hours ago, dprh said:

It seems to me that the point of having a vocabulary is to be able to communicate ones thoughts to others.  If she's unable to do that, then her vocabulary might need to expand. Just in a different direction than most peoples.  

I doubt it. Some people just don't like it when others use unusual words, even when the point is clear and they can easily infer the meaning of unknown words from context. Such actions are just as offensive in their own way, and just as tediously immature, as ostentatiously using ten-dollar words just to show off one's impressive vocabulary.

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3 hours ago, Vort said:

I doubt it. Some people just don't like it when others use unusual words, even when the point is clear and they can easily infer the meaning of unknown words from context. Such actions are just as offensive in their own way, and just as tediously immature, as ostentatiously using ten-dollar words just to show off one's impressive vocabulary.

Yeah, I had to explain to a colleague last week the phrase "take a page out of their book". My colleague has twenty years on me and was born and raised in Utah. I know we teach kindergarten, but come on.

I had some guy with deplorable grammar declare to me "thrice" wasn't a word. Archaic, arguably, but I think it has character and its meaning can't be that hard to figure out. He basically used his lack of comprehension as an attack against me.

One I had to explain to a professional twice my age "coy".

I don't think I have a crazy vocabulary (do I?) Yet these are my experiences. My view is people should take the opportunity to just learn words before our language crumbles.

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1 hour ago, Backroads said:

Yeah, I had to explain to a colleague last week the phrase "take a page out of their book". My colleague has twenty years on me and was born and raised in Utah. I know we teach kindergarten, but come on.

I had some guy with deplorable grammar declare to me "thrice" wasn't a word. Archaic, arguably, but I think it has character and its meaning can't be that hard to figure out. He basically used his lack of comprehension as an attack against me.

One I had to explain to a professional twice my age "coy".

I don't think I have a crazy vocabulary (do I?) Yet these are my experiences. My view is people should take the opportunity to just learn words before our language crumbles.

Sometimes words are used incorrectly.  For example often the term perpendicular is use incorrectly when used in reference to a curved surface or line (not flat or straight).  In such a case the proper term is orthogonal.  Often it is humorous how the term literally is used - like a sportscaster declaring that a runner is "literally flying" because he is running faster than others.  One of the biggest reasons for miscommunication is improper or ambitious use of language.   The biggest surprise to me personally, is when I ask question to clarify meaning and the person gets upset????

 

The Traveler

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10 hours ago, Traveler said:

Sometimes words are used incorrectly. 

download.gif.00d32c7ed4f05cbdbabce01f400d27b5.gif

Quote

For example often the term perpendicular is use incorrectly when used in reference to a curved surface or line (not flat or straight).  In such a case the proper term is orthogonal.

I disagree.  The two terms are virtually synonymous.  While there is a very minor difference in how these words are defined in the dictionary,  I know of no one (other than you) who would even raise an eyebrow at using "perpendicular" to describe the orientation of a ray to the point on the circle.  And I'm pretty persnickety about geometric terms.  We say "it is perpendicular at the point of intersection." 

But for shorthand, we can say that "a ray is always perpendicular to the circle."

Quote

The main difference between Perpendicular and Orthogonal is that the property of being perpendicular (perpendicularity) is the relationship between two lines which meet at a right angle (90 degrees). The property extends to other related geometric objects and Orthogonal is a relation of two lines at right angles.

 -- askdifference.com

IOW, perpendicular is the property of the assembly of items.  Whereas, orthogonal describes each individual item having the property in relation to the other.  Basically, we're talking about the same thing, but applied to the whole vs the individual parts. 

But I've never heard anyone shy away from using either word for either case.

Edited by Carborendum

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Thanks everyone.  I've put all your advice together to create a plan of attack.

My daughter is a writer -- of the truest sort.  She has her "characters" talk to her in their own voice and their own grammar/vocabulary.

So, I'm going to advise her to create a character who is of average intelligence or above, who learned to figure out all sorts of really cool things, but he never received much of an education (formal or self-taught) in the standard academic subjects. As such he knows an awful lot of stuff about almost anything just by looking at the idea nd figuring things out on his own.  But he never learned much of a vocabulary.

Ask him how he would say what you're about to say.  Then repeat the words without prefacing it with ,"Mickey over there says that what I mean is..."

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16 hours ago, Vort said:

I doubt it. Some people just don't like it when others use unusual words, even when the point is clear and they can easily infer the meaning of unknown words from context. Such actions are just as offensive in their own way, and just as tediously immature, as ostentatiously using ten-dollar words just to show off one's impressive vocabulary.

Don't beat around the bush, Vort.  Just tell us how you really feel.

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2 hours ago, Carborendum said:

download.gif.00d32c7ed4f05cbdbabce01f400d27b5.gif

I disagree.  The two terms are virtually synonymous.  While there is a very minor difference in how these words are defined in the dictionary,  I know of no one (other than you) who would even raise an eyebrow at using "perpendicular" to describe the orientation of a ray to the point on the circle.  And I'm pretty persnickety about geometric terms.  We say "it is perpendicular at the point of intersection." 

But for shorthand, we can say that "a ray is always perpendicular to the circle."

IOW, perpendicular is the property of the assembly of items.  Whereas, orthogonal describes each individual item having the property in relation to the other.  Basically, we're talking about the same thing, but applied to the whole vs the individual parts. 

But I've never heard anyone shy away from using either word for either case.

Ambiguity opens the door to misunderstanding.  Though you are correct in that for casual uses most people do not realize the need for the difference; thought there are instances where the differences are critical and necessary.

On a similar note many good members of the Church have difficulty reading the works of Talmage and do not appreciate his precise uses of vocabulary to explain deep concepts with less ambiguity. 

 

The Traveler

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3 hours ago, Carborendum said:

Don't beat around the bush, Vort.  Just tell us how you really feel.

Some time ago, I casually mentioned to my mom that reading an essay on some topic likely told you more about the author than about the subject topic. Her response was, "I hope that's not true!" But in my experience, it is.

I occasionally read old interactions on this forum, and sometimes feel uncomfortable about what I wrote. I expose myself a lot here [insert suppressed sneers and elbow jabs]. But I have a thin façade of anonymity here, which allows me some flexibility and a bit of license to be open to a degree I might not if my actual name were attached to my words. In any case, what I write is a reflection of who and what I am, so if people want to think less of me for it, so be it. At least I'm getting blamed for someone's perception of what I really am rather than for something I have nothing to do with, as is so often the case in our corrupt society.

Edited by Vort

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On 2/8/2021 at 11:44 PM, Carborendum said:

I'd brought up this issue before.  But now I'm finding that my daughter has the same problem but worse.

She's finding that her companions and fellow missionaries find her vocabulary incomprehensible.  They accuse her of inflating her vocabulary. They don't seem to understand that this is just how she speaks.

She's struggling to speak in a way that others understand.  But she feels like she's being condescending when she does that.  So, it's a catch-22.

Any ideas?

My dad talks about the same problem: he can't spell for toffee, but he's nevertheless a walking dictionary. When he was a young man, people would ask him why he insisted on using such obscure words, or accuse him of "showing off" with them. This always irritated him because - from his perspective - he was not "showing off", but making optimum use of the English language.

English is so rich - a very educated person (like my father) can use that richness to great advantage - but only if he's talking to another very educated person. To someone with a poor vocabulary, it does come across (unfairly) as "swank".

There are a lot of English words which mean almost - but not quite - the same thing. Why for instance do we have the word "contrition" when we already have "remorse"? Those words are close enough in meaning to be confused with each other, but they are subtly different. A remorseful person is merely regretful of the wrong he has done, but does not necessarily have any intention to do better. A contrite person is regretful, but in a positive way - he wants to put things right.

(Some people say that "contrition" and "remorse" mean the same thing but in different contexts: "contrition" belongs to religion and "remorse" to the law. I disagree: I think lawyers and judges and rehabilitationists use the word "remorse" wrongly. They ought to say "contrition".)

Edited by Jamie123

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13 minutes ago, Jamie123 said:

English is so rich - a very educated person (like my father) can use that richness to great advantage - but only if he's talking to another very educated person. To someone with a poor vocabulary, it does come across (unfairly) as "swank".

On a tangent from this...

There is a joke I heard in an old movie (which I've repeated on more than one occasion) that I've found is lost on too large a percentage of the population.  So, I have to be selective on the audience to whom I repeat it.

Quote

I was thinking of the immortal words of Socrates, who said, "... I drank what?"

Too often, I hear the response:

Quote

Why?  What did Socrates drink?

Edited by Carborendum

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4 minutes ago, Carborendum said:

On a tangent from this...

There is a joke I heard in an old movie (which I've repeated on more than one occasion) that I've found is lost on too large a percentage of the population.  So, I have to be selective on the audience to whom I repeat it.

Too often, I hear the response:

Reminds me a bit of:

Quote

First man: When I told him my grandfather was at Waterloo, he asked me "What platform"?

Second man: Hahaha...that's so funny! As it it mattered what platform!

The joke is lost if you don't know about Waterloo Station in London.

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On 2/10/2021 at 6:29 PM, Vort said:

It's under so-crates.

 

It says that video is unavailable. Is it mirrored somewhere else?

On the subject of "mirrored", I once had to write a poem for English class at school. I was about 11 or 12 at the time, and I decided to make the poem about a fireworks display we'd recently seen beside a lake. I showed it to my dad, who absolutely insisted I change the line "All reflected in the lake" to "All mirrored in the lake" - since "mirrored" was "a better word". I expressed my doubt that "mirrored" was even a real word, but my father assured me it was, and I should use it 'coz it would impress the teacher. I disagreed: even if "mirrored" was a word, I thought "reflected" worked better. "All reflected in the lake" is a trochaic tetrameter* - I didn't know that term back then, but I liked the rhythm of it. I also liked the repetition of the hard "k" sound. So I secretly changed it back to "reflected" before passing the poem in.

*Well almost. It's missing a syllable at the end. A proper trochaic tetrameter would be Longfellow: "On the shores of Gitche Gumee". Mine was more like Roald Dahl: "All the Grobes come oozing home." (P.S. I've just looked it up: the proper word for that is a "catalectic".)**

**You can tell I really don't want to get down to work, can't you?

Edited by Jamie123

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