Back in fifth grade, I had a difficult time with synonyms and didn’t understand why I had to learn a new word when it meant the same thing as a word I already knew. Although I now understand there is a real difference when a character walks, runs, jumps, limps, or saunters, even though they are all ways of moving, I still want simple words.
I’ve tried to follow (adhere to) Mark Twain’s saying (adage), “Don’t use a five-dollar word when a fifty-cent word will do.” I even reduce his advice in value to “Never use a quarter word when a nickel word will do.” Writing is all about communicating, not trying to confuse (obfuscate) the reader.
Recently in the newspaper, I read efficacy and had to look up the meaning. So instead of “What is the efficacy of this vaccine?”— I would write “How effective is this vaccine?”
Instead of “There are a multitude of reasons,” I would write “There are many reasons.”
Do I sound like the late Andy Rooney, who was the walking definition of the word curmudgeon? I agreed with most of his commentary on 60 Minutes. Especially did I like his stand on clothes with brand names on them. I’m not a walking billboard. I’ve cut the names right off. I’ve taken the name of a car dealer off the trunk of my car. If you want me to advertise for you, pay me right up front.
Perhaps my negative attitude is due to too much isolation and too much winter. When the hot water froze in the kitchen, which caused a BIG leak, I threw old frayed towels on the floor from the entry to the dining area to sop up water before a friend came to the rescue. He traded a space heater to a plumber for an emergency call that put a Band-Aid on my problem. When the plumber has addressed the other 600 calls he got, I’ll have him back for a permanent fix to old valves.
I need to turn my attitude around and be grateful. The hardy jonquils along the fence have buds the size of my thumb. They survived subzero temps, and so did I, thanks to friends who braved the frigid temperatures to bring me firewood.
Spring is around the corner, and I will glory in it, perhaps more so this year because of dressing in three layers this last month.
Yes, I will be more grateful—to good friends, to sunshine, maybe-a-maybe for hard times that make me appreciate the easy times. I’ll even try to quit criticizing the newspaper.