A Word by any other Name is … Confusing
Oh, I just don’t know. Can’t make up my mind. Is it vibrant and pleasant, or irritatingly arrogant? Neither … both …
OROTUND (ōrʹɘ tund’) adj. – 1) clear, strong, and deep, resonant, said of the voice; 2) bombastic or pompous; said of a style of speaking or writing. [ WW #160]
Thinking back to language origins, I’m sure they were meant to develop simply, presenting an orotund and easier way to communicate than hieroglyphs and petroglyphs.
Question #1: At what point did languages become so complicated and convoluted?
Apparently, when we began traveling around the globe and merging various languages to communicate. You would think by now, we'd all understand each other, wouldn't you?
Our word this week is a perfect example. On the one hand, orotund is pleasing in its robust voice, from the Latin “ore rotundo,” or “with round mouth.” However, use it to describe an onerous person or acrimonious writing, and it becomes rather irritating. How did it attract two oddly dissimilar meanings?
More to the point, in writing especially, how are we to know which meaning is meant or appropriate when the context is vague?
Consider Question #2* below in which I use orotund in a vaguely descriptive way. Not all minds think alike. Some of you might perceive it as a “clear and strong” description, while others consider it “pompous.”
By 1792 we already had “pompous” (14 c.) and “resonant” (1590s). Why add anything to the mix? Such could be said of many words in the English language. Just another example of humans going to the extreme, overdoing and overthinking, as usual, don’t you think?
Let’s face it. It’s been centuries since we have needed more words to describe anything. Most of our “new” words come about as colloquial or slang that eventually muscle their way into the dictionary.
*Question #2: Why not establish a dictionary of core words that comprise accepted, orotund language, and let the slang terms run their course, as they generally do?
Imagine how thin the dictionary would be if we stripped out the superfluous words to what is truly necessary to communicate satisfactorily and effectively. (Hmmm, an action that also should be applied to our governments …)
Of course, I’m saying all this with tongue-in-cheek as I foist upon you yet another word for your voluminous vocabulary. Do as I say, not as I do—right parents (and politicians)?!
Word Challenge: OROTUND. Sometimes Spring Cleaning shouldn’t be relegated only to the house. Choose your cleansing actions carefully as piles for recycling and trash grow. How can you simplify your life as you fit orotund into your week of streamlined writings?
Learning knows no prejudices or boundaries, and it isn’t fattening! Expanding your mind is a no-cost simple joy. Do you feel that way too? Share your comments below, about Wordplay Wednesday or learning in general. Look forward to cyber-meeting you!
Write first for yourself … only then can you write for others. (L.Rochelle)
LinDee Rochelle is a writer and editor by trade, and an author by way of Rock & Roll. She has published two books (of three) in her Blast from Your Past series, available on Amazon (eBook and print): Book 1 – Rock & Roll Radio DJs: The First Five Years 1954-1959; and Book 2 – Rock & Roll Radio DJs: The Swinging Sixties. Coming soon, … The Psychedelic Seventies!