Fellow writers, don’t use big words!

May 16, 2017 – Fellow writers, don’t use big words!  As a man of the world, I have worn many hats over the years.  I have been a political pundit, fisherman, tourist guide, financial advisor, poet and an occasional writer.  But today for writing this article I am wearing my reader’s hat.

I hate it when writers use big words.  If you are what you eat, I must be plain vanilla.  And if you are what you read, I must be nursery rhymes.  For me, the simpler the better.  I do not like beating my brains out trying to find out what the writer means.  Every human being has an inborn desire to be heard through what they say and write.  Letting others know what’s on our mind is a basic human desire and it is a wonderful feeling when we are understood.  So what is the point of writing something that only you can understand?


“Missiles of ligneous or oterous consistency have the potential of fracturing my osceous structure, but appellations will eternally remain innocuous. “


What?!  It sounds good, but what the heck does it mean?  Who is the author trying to impress?  A reader is like a woman ready to be pursued, wined and dined.  I would like to be seduced by a writer through the use of seductive words and phrases in a language I can understand not in some foreign language.


“Judgment of any system, or a priori relationship or phenomenon exists in an irrational, or metaphysical, or at least epistemological contradiction to an abstract empirical concept such as being, or to be, or to occur in the thing itself, or of the thing itself.”


The words of the above quotation are English but they might as well be Greek.  I have no idea what the sentence means.  Colleagues, write in such a way as if you are painting a clear and simple picture.  Do not create an abstract painting.  Write simply, clearly and concisely so that your writings are not open for interpretation.  Write in grade level 10 or lower if you can.  The lower the level, the better writer you are.  The Wall Street Journal is written in Grade 12 level while the New York Times in Grade 10 and the New York Daily News in Grade 8.  Do not include words that are superfluous and unnecessary or you might just fog up what you are trying to say.  In fact there is a term called “Fog Index” which includes a formula to measure readability and comprehension of a certain text and to determine what formal education is needed to understand such text.


“From a negative light, “Politics” has the horrifying stigma associated with the vile and stealthy manipulation of others for the benefit of a selfish gain masked in fake promises.

It is because of nescience, the lack of knowledge, or the perversion thereof that we position “politics” in the realm of the taboo and elevates “values” into the pedestal of sanctity. And will values be that asymptotic horizon that lies beyond the grasp of the average?”


I am sure the author of the above group of sentences has something worthy to say.  But his message is lost in the fog, and at least for me I got a headache just reading the text.  To try to interpret the passages might give me agita so I gave up. The writer no doubt is well educated and I am sure he knows what he means.  But he fails to realize that readers who did not attain the same level of education he did will need a dictionary to get through the agonizing process of reading his work to the end.  Perhaps the writer wants to elevate the reader’s comprehension to his level and help his readers build a better vocabulary, but a column in a magazine is not the proper forum to do it.  Reading a piece should be an informative and entertaining experience and should not be as if the reader is going through a creative writing exam.  There are professor-type writers who are sincere in their desire to impart their knowledge.  But there are also vanity writers, charlatans and timewasters who think big words will help boost their reputation as a writer to the detriment of comprehension.  Hey, I can do that too.  I can write “a farrago of footlers” instead of “a bunch of lazy people”.  But why?  My job as a writer is to keep my reader interested and engaged.  If I cannot do that I do not deserve to write.


So my message to the writer who uses big words, and with all due respect:  It is not too late to change but you’re not getting any younger.  And my advice to you, again with all due respect, in the eloquent words of an anonymous college professor is:


“In promulgating your esoteric cogitations, or articulating your superficial sentimentalities and amicable, philosophical or psychological observations, beware of platitudinous ponderosity. Let your oral and written communications possess a clarified conciseness, a compact comprehensibleness, coalescent consistency, and a concatenated cogency. Eschew all conglomerations of flatulent garrulity, jejune babblement and asinine affectations. Let your extemporaneous descantings and unpremeditated expatiations have intelligibility and veracious vivacity, without rodomontade or thrasonical bombast. Sedulously avoid all polysyllabic profundity, pompous prolixity, setaceous vacuity, ventriloquial verbosity and vaniloquent vapidity. Shun double-entendres, prurient pscosity, and pestiferous profanity, obscurant or apparent.”


In other words, say or write what you mean and DON’T USE BIG WORDS!

DIDO’S Summer 2009 Travelogue

Travel is one of the five things I love doing most in life.  This summer alone I logged in over 50,000 travel miles.  But the way I see it, there is the “good and the bad of travel”. The good part is seeing all those wonderful places, different sceneries, different people, different cultures, the food, the aroma and the environment in those beautiful new places.  And the bad part is the trip to the airport, the airport scene, the plane ride, ground transportation to the hotel and the hotel stay itself.  To put it another way, travel would be more enjoyable for me if I can be tele-transported or beamed down to my destination then sleep in my own bed each night.

I hate the airport traffic, the long lines at the security gates, the cramped airline seats and toilets, the airline food if any, rude flight attendants, crying babies and 400 pound seat mates.  For me, this is purgatory…sort of the hell I have to pass through to get to those heavenly places such as Interlaken, Dubrovnik, Amsterdam, Bristol, Prague, Istanbul, Sabah and other popular tourist destinations.

This year I have been fortunate enough to travel first or business class on trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific flights which made the “bad of travel” more tolerable.  With all the miles under my belt, for me, the worst of “the bad of travel” is the plane ride.  The take offs and landings terrify me.  I call all on all the saints for intervention and silently pray several Our Fathers and Hail Marys during take offs and landings.  The moment I get on the plane it seems a dark cloud follows me.  There is always something.  I often get a seat next to a woman with a crying baby or next to a 400 lb. lard ass.  On the first leg of my trip to Brunei, I got a seat next to a Chinese man wearing a surgical mask who kept coughing and who kept monitoring his temperature.  On the flight back, a grungy looking Japanese guy who must not have showered for 2 years sat next to me.  Why can’t the airline god give me a break once and seat me next to Paris Hilton?  Yes, I can never get a break. I can't even count the number of times when the flight attendant runs out of food just before she gets to my row, then skips my row entirely after replenishing.  There have been many times when everybody’s TV monitor works except mine.  There were times when I asked for beef and all they had was chicken but when I got up to the lavatory after the meal, I saw the flight attendants eating my beef dinner.  Oh, I hate that!

Since I hate flying so much, I avail myself to everything the airline gives for free.  Heck it’s all included in the fare anyway.  I do not mean the airline blankets, pillows and ear phones which some passengers take home with them.  What I really mean is that before the plane even gets off the ground I would have 3 glasses of champagne and two sets of hors d’ouvre.  The moment the “fasten seat belt” sign is turned off I ask for a double gin and tonic, martini or scotch depending on my mood.  Then a few glasses of wine with my meal followed by an Irish or Mexican coffee with my dessert.  A short while later, a few shots of brandy nicely fall into place.  If an airline such as Lufthansa, Qantas, Cathay and Singapore Airlines offers caviar or foie gras, God help them because I will keep asking for more until they run out of it or until the plane lands. I am shameless and guiltless when it comes to getting my fill.  My rationale is that I’ve paid for it.  Despite all the alcohol I find it hard to sleep more than 1 or 2 hours even on long trans-oceanic flights and even on relatively comfortable fully reclining sleeper seats.

I hate stop-overs for connecting flights.  Oftentimes they require you to go through airport security again which can become very stressful if you have too short a connection time between flights. Amsterdam’s Schipol airport is a strange one because they make arriving passengers go through a security check before leaving the airport which does not seem to make sense.  But I will tell you why I do not mind stop-overs in Narita, Nagoya and Osaka.  It is not just because of the pretty, young Japanese girls in the airport shops who keep bowing, seemingly eager to take care of every man’s needs.  It is because of the Japanese toilets.  Unlike the airport toilets in America which generally are not so clean, quite stinky and open enough for your next stall neighbor to measure your stride, Japanese toilets are clean, almost odor free and privately enclosed down to the floor with the door tightly fitted to the jambs.  No weirdo can sneak a peek while you are busy doing your business.  In addition to the cleanliness and privacy, most of their “western type” toilets are equipped with a water spray, with optional perfume, perfectly aimed “at the spot” which is triggered at the push of a button.  You can also increase or decrease the pressure of the spray.  It makes going to the toilet a pleasant experience.  I have been successful in timing it perfectly so as not to go for number 2 in those midget airline toilets.  I hold it and run to the airport toilet, after which I am well and good and smiling again ready for my connecting flight.