Don’t Snort your Orts!
When I was a wee lass (a better lead-in than “When I was a kid …?”) we were told to “finish every scrap of food” on our plates, because there were “starving children in China.”
Well, we now know the folly of those admonitions. First, we didn’t understand the correlation between our food and the children in China – our good fortune was lost in the worry of not getting any pie; and sadly, there always have been and likely always will be starving children, on every continent.
Second, finishing everything on our plates often led to obesity – if not then, the gobbling habit wreaked havoc on our adult years* before we realized we needed smaller plates!
On a lighter note, can you imagine the food snorting out our noses if our parents had exclaimed, “Young lady, you finish all the orts on your plate, or no dessert!”
ORT(s) – n. a scrap or fragment of food left from a meal, usu. used in plural. [WW#48]
“Usually used in plural?” When have you usually used that word in anything? Methinks there are thousands of words in the dictionary that could easily be eliminated. Why saddle one meaning with three, four, five or more words to cover it? Think about it, writers …Repetition bores readers. They’re looking for interesting and exciting. Overuse of a word in a sentence, paragraph, or even page, can send the reader skimming down the text. Some discerning folks may even decide to skip your work altogether.
Does your writing look like this? He opened the closet door just a tad, to peek into the room. There was a tad of water on the floor where his cup had runneth over. Oh my, mom is going to be a tad angry, he thought. But when mom walked into the room, she spied the water and softly called, “Teddy, did you spill a tad of water? It’s okay, let’s clean it up together.”
Although I still believe we could do without words that are so archaic or rarely used that their meaning is obscure to the majority, do vary your text to keep your writing fresh and inviting.
Can’t think of another word for scrap of food? Grab your thesaurus and cruise the alternatives. Morsel, crumb, tidbit … or even tease them with orts.
But don’t hesitate to lightly pepper your writing with fascinating, unfamiliar terms – it just might encourage your readers to learn something new.**
Happy writing – 'Til next time ... have a wonderful "wordful" week!
* “To help the 13 million obese seniors in the U.S., the Affordable Care Act included a new Medicare benefit offering face-to-face weight-loss counseling in primary care doctors’ offices. Doctors are paid to provide the service, which is free to obese patients, with no co-pay. But only 50,000 seniors participated in 2013, the latest year for which data is available.”
** Remember, you can create an interactive eBook with links to dictionary references or other informative sites. Rather than devalue your work by writing to a lower literacy level, think about the prospect of creating a richer experience and enhancing readers’ education!
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