Appropriate Language. “The
difference between the right word and the almost
right word is the difference between lightning and
a lightning bug”. ~Mark Twain
No matter how much we may like certain words, if
they don’t communicate our purpose or are not
geared to our audience- they won’t work. Language
has its niches. For example, ‘buzz’ words have
generational and cultural relationships. Use
appropriate language that hits home runs for your
think it well to remember that, when writing for
the newspapers, we are writing for an elderly lady
in Hastings who has two cats of which she is
passionately fond. Unless our stuff can
successfully compete for her interest with those
cats, it is no good.”
~Willmott Lewis, in Claud Cockburn (1957). In Time
Every writer has a fondness for certain words or
expressions. We unconsciously fall back on these in
moments of being inarticulate. Sometimes they are
called ‘qualifiers”. Think of these words as flags.
They are places where we need to re-write to be
Appropriate language is
- relevant to the audience
- fitting to purpose
- pertinent to perspective
- a form of good timing.
tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of
light on broken glass.” ~Anton
- Read your work out loud. Any place you stumble is
awkward for your reader.
- Hear your language. Is it appropriate?
- Look for words or phrases that you repeat
(qualifiers). Highlight or list them.
- Re-read and understand the context of these
- Change the words to say what you mean to
- Listen to what you have written.
- Is the language in line with the purpose?
- Does the language reflect the way I see myself as
- How will my reader receive the language I have
- Will this language achieve the my goal?
different language is a different vision of life."