Of BIG words and mediocre essays

I used to be, as a younger student, so concerned about my essay not containing enough ‘big’ words. Sesquipedalianism, it seemed, was what distinguished an excellent essay from a poor one – a thinking which I had adopted after being praised by the teacher for using the more obscured and ornamental synonyms of simple words. “Pusillanimous”, “verisimilitude” and “pulchritudinous” were among my favorites.

Not two days ago, I chanced upon a dust-crusted piece conceived during those years of compulsive loquaciousness, and as I read through it, I thought it absolutely mediocre. It was however not due to a disparaging lack of simplicity, which so often is the problem of ambitiously pompous work, but to the stark dissonance between the splendor of the words and the sophistication in grammar. My sentence structures were trite, and bore no elegance once stripped of its meretriciousness by the experienced and initiated, leading those snake-like words to annoy rather than impress. I cannot seem to amply express my annoyance but if I were example you with an analogy, it would be like seeing a person win a poetry competition by memorizing a poem he had read before – it is but a grotesque pretence of skill.

Just as a constellation is not defined by the individual stars, the beauty of a sentence is not defined by the individual words but rather by the allure of the amalgam.


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