A case of gobbledygook

Young Koh

Intelligent people can offend others without much effort, and this is usually managed when an intelligent individual confuses whoever he/she may be arguing with a strong vocabulary. It is very confusing and frustrating when we don’t understand a certain word and cannot deduce meaning from context. This is especially annoying when we are in argument and our pride does not afford us to look stupid in front of our opponents. As a result, we frequently enter games of “confound with big words” and hope that our opponents don’t question the jargon that we use. That is, if we don’t have the faintest clue about the words we use.

This exploitation of jargon is often observed in speeches made by politicians (Google search: “Strategery”). People roar with laughter and incredulity whenever Bush makes a blunder, but we often misunderestimate the prevalence of such made up words and nonsensical phrases in our day-to-day conversations and arguments. How much better are we when it comes to accepting that we just don’t know a word and swallowing our pride to ask “Err, what does that mean?” At least Bush was the president, and has a reason to pretend to know big words (albeit failing at that task). Our conversations and speeches don’t carry half as much weight as Bush’s do, but we aren’t any better at trying to stop and think before we formulate a halfway intelligent-sounding argument.

I’m not trying to present myself as the authoritarian voice on the usage of big words, but I think it can be agreed that if people knew what they were talking about and tried to learn if they didn’t, there will be an improvement in this nation’s prospects. There is too much concern given to a superficial appearance of intelligence that the actual inherent “smartness” is often overlooked.

This may sound like a petty argument. Why should I care if you don’t know what you are talking about? You do what you want! But the reality is that our daily actions and interactions dictate our future choices in action and interaction. It will be hard to argue for an ignorant and overly pride-obsessed majority in the populace. We often hear how little choices have big impacts and roll our eyes at such isms, but something as simple as choosing to know a word can be a choice to change lifestyles. Think before you speak.


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