Let’s talk about Brian. (It’s okay, he’s not here.) Brian uses a lot of big words. Like, all day with the big words. He’s walking around all, “Watching the Eagles last night was practically self-deprecating. The defense is flaccid, the offense is haphazard, and the head coach’s method of strategy is archaic. I mean, it’s just archaic.”
And that makes you mad. And you say, “Damn it, Brian, that makes me mad!”
You know the word mad. You use it because, here in the States, it conveys the emotion you feel. You don’t think about it, it comes out naturally. But, you also know the word angry. You could use that too, couldn’t you? It means the same thing; they’re interchangeable.
Before you made the statement, “Brian, that makes me mad!” did you think for a moment about whether you should use the word “angry” or “mad”? No, dude. One just came out.
It works the same way for Brian. When Brian goes to speak, he is just like you; he doesn’t craft out his sentences beforehand, making sure to include as many multisyllabic words as possible. When he goes to yell that he’s angry, his brain is still going to choose a word at random to express that emotion, the same way it did for you. But for him, it will choose from mad, angry, incensed, piqued, irascible, irate, vexed…
Brian isn’t using big words to piss you off, he’s using big words simply because his brain has access to them. So it uses them. And the thing about it is, it isn’t even Brian’s fault that he knows so many big words. Even that just happens.
Nobody actually expands their vocabulary studying for a spelling bee. All a vocab quiz gets you is a lower GPA. Everyone, regardless of where they sit on the standard IQ bell curve, learns new words through osmosis.
Like the word “osmosis,” for example. You know how I came to know that word? It was on a Garfield poster in my 7th grade history classroom. Garfield is laying in his box with a book over his presumably sleeping head, with a caption “I’m learning through osmosis.”
(Of course my science guys are going “That’s not what osmosis is.” Yeah, I know. I took high school science. The point is that it’s a transferable concept. Now stop interrupting, you’re confusing the point I’m trying to make.)
We all pick up new words from the context of our daily lives. Like how I was in the grocery store and Elle magazine was telling me that “Crop tops and overalls are here to stay!” And I’m like “What the hell is a crop top?” So I look at the picture and see a borderline-anorexic woman in overalls with this little half shirt. From this I can infer, “Oh, that must be a crop top.”
Boom. I’ve just expanded my vocabulary standing in line at the Piggly Wiggly.
The more intelligent a person is, the more readily their brain does this. I needed a visual aid to explain “crop top” to me. Someone smarter than me (pssht, like you could find one) (…ha) might infer the meanings of the words “crop,” to cut off the ends, and “top,” a colloquialism for “shirt.” Ergo, a crop top must be a shirt with the end cut off. Which of course it is.
Brian isn’t going to be able to use shorter, simpler words without a lot of concerted effort on his part. He would literally have to think about everything he said before he said it. “Gina. Are. You. Going. To. Starbucks. This. Morning? I. Would. Like. A. Frappuccino.” That doesn’t seem like much of an improvement.
How do we solve this problem? How do we eradicate vocabism? We get together, and we all agree that the Eagles are flaccid and haphazard, and move on from there.