Employ,utilize…use?

March 21, 2013 | | 2 Comments

My senior of High School I took an AP lit class that Orwell would have hated incredibly. It is the best example of using fancy words for no  reason other then to sound intelligent. The example I will use here centers around the word use. We were banned from using use in any of our essays because by using use it was showing everyone we were not properly using our large vocabulary that the teacher had tried to instill in is us by using all of those vocab tests in the previous years. As you can see by frequent using of the word use I was NOT a fan of this dumb rule. Use to me is a perfectly good word that does not detract from the meaning of the sentence when used in instead of its fancier counterparts utilize and employ. In fact it was such a struggle to find replacements for it that my essays were filled with essentially employed or utilized. I felt like it would make my readers think that I was attempting to be an elitist fool and trying to mask errors in my work with fluffed up vocabulary. His only argument that actually held any water when it came to why he banned the word was that the AP graders didn’t like use but still I highly doubt that to this day.

On a more serious note I truly do think that by drawing more attention to the actual words then the meaning is a true crime in writing. I do understand there is certainly a place for higher vocabulary (even that can be argued though) because in many cases the word’s meaning offers a more precise definition of something then the more general and commonly used word. In my example I do not believe this is the case, use has the same meaning as both of those words and their only purpose here was to sound smarter which in fact seems to actually indicated the opposite.

 


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2 Comments so far

  1.    Emma Green on March 21, 2013 9:06 pm

    Taylor, I love how you latched onto this one word and have overUSED it as a very direct snub to your former teacher. It is so great because that is reason number one that Orwell cites as reasons for writing, saying the purpose is “to get your own back on grown-ups who snubbed you in childhood” (Orwell 4).

    I wonder though if your teacher had a general prejudice against smaller, more common, “inconsequential” words and you just remember “use” or if he indeed had a particular pet-peeve when it came to that word. For example, I know nice, good, and bad were considered under-descriptive throw away words in the opinion of most of my teachers.

    References:

    Orwell, George. “Why I Write.” Why I Write. New York: Penguin, 2005. I-10. Print.

  2.    Miriam on March 21, 2013 10:52 pm

    I totally agree with Emma! I loved the humor in your post and your use of the word, use. When I read this, I pictured your teacher (even though I don’t know what he/she looks like) cringing and getting mad every time he/she read the word, use but there was nothing he/she could do about it. It goes to show that you have decided to be your own writer and not follow the silly rules made by others. Way to take a stand!

    I also really liked the second part of your post (it presented a nice change in tone HA!). I think you make a good point about how the purpose of writing is to get a point across and not using fancy words. You also mentioned that there is a time when the fancy words may be necessary. I’m curious to know what instances you believe this is true?

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