Wordy Thursday

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I forgot what day it was… DH took the kids to a Nationals game yesterday, in my car, so I was stuck at home & got involved in reading & totally spaced the blog post I was going to do about reading.

This is probably the biggest stack of to be read dead tree books that I have had in nearly a year.

18 books!

Plus 2 that are not pictured!

I can’t even fit my kindle on the nightstand because these are all ancient paperbacks, some from the 1950s and they are too unstable to support the weight of the kindle.

I have all of Edmund Crispin’s books & about half of Michael Innes’ . I’ve worked my way through all of Elizabeth Daly’s & have listened to nearly all of Ngaio Marsh’s over the past 6 months, only 4 more to go.

Mysteries from the 1930-60 era are much more erudite than today’s. They never use a 2 syllable word where a 4 syllable one is available. People never ‘say’ things. They ‘natter’ and ‘whisper’ and ‘mumble’ and ‘chatter’ and “articulate’ and issue ‘gnomic utterances’.

They also seem to ‘ejaculate’ a great deal, which is nearly as jarring to me as all the casual & unthinking racial slurs that randomly pop up.

However, I challenge you to name me a book published after 1970 that mentions ‘gnomic utterances’ and yet I have come across it nearly a dozen times in books by 7 different authors.

Then there are words like prolegomena, derogation, logomachy, peroration, minatory, jocosity, emendation, aposiopesis, lachrymose, conurbations & petechial. I either had a general idea of these words meanings or could guess it from the context, but I still had to look them up to be sure.

And these were ‘railway reading’ books. Not ‘great literature’.

Makes me wonder if the general reading public wasn’t expected to be better educated than it is today.  Writers today are told that they should write to a general 5th grade level. I doubt many 5th graders know the meaning of ‘conurbations’. I have an MA that minors in English and I didn’t.

Or has our vocabulary been shrinking? Like going from “I agree” to “okay” to ‘k’ over time.

I have to take a break every now and then & read something written recently because my brain needs a break from the wordiness.

And my eyes from the tiny print.

You can’t adjust print size on a paperback and people in the 50s must have had much better vision than people today. I compared print size between a paperback from 1948 & a paperback published last month and the type is half again as big for the book published last month.

It’s also twice as thick, so maybe the tiny print was a way of keeping costs down.

What have you been reading lately?

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3 comments to Wordy Thursday

  • You’re right! All those words..

    Funnily enough I’ve been reading some Penguin Classic Margery Allingham

  • Yep same with old fashioned sci fi, the aliens and spaceguys had great vocab. I’ve got a stack of dead tree books waiting for me to finish some client work…

  • Interesting post. I agree that books were wordier then than now. Charles Dickens was paid by the word I believe, which might have influenced his writing style. Hubby had a go with Longfellow and found it unbearable for wordiness. Unfortunately I think we’re on a downward spiral here … as readers’ vocabulary decreases, editors decide that authors will have to curb their enthusiasm.

    I knew of conurbations from Geography btw!