JS Tip 225: From the Writing Workshops: Using Short Words (Again)

We’ve talked several times of the advantages of short words.

Our friend Joe Collet (of Lutheran Hour Ministries) shared this piece by Richard Lederer. It’s from Lederer’s The Miracle of Language:

The Strength of a Single Syllable

When you speak and write, no law says you have to use big words. Short words are as good as long ones, and short, old words like sun and grass and home are best of all. A lot of small words, more than you might think, can meet your needs with a strength, grace and charm that large words lack.

Big words can make the way dark for those who hear what you say and read what you write. They add fat to your prose. Small words are the ones that we seem to have known from birth. They are like the hearth fire that warms the home, and they cast a clear light on big things: night and day, love and hate, war and peace, life and death.

Short words are bright, like sparks that glow in the night; sharp like the blade of a knife; hot like salt tears that scald the cheek; quick like moths that flit from flame to flame; and terse like the dart and sting of a bee.

If a long word says just what you want, do not fear to use it. But know that our tongue is rich in crisp, brisk, swift, short words. Make them the spine and the heart of what you speak and write. Like fast friends, they will not let you down.

Notice anything interesting about the passage?

Let us know your questions and concerns. We love this stuff.