Information icon.svg Nominations and campaigning for the RationalWiki 2021 Moderator Election are completed. Voting is live now, until 17:00 UTC, 30 November!

Talk:Big words

From RationalWiki
Jump to: navigation, search

What are 'the short words' for Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch? Or (all your prefix are belong to us, in whatever order you please)-antidisestablishmentarianism? Anna Livia (talk) 17:29, 29 April 2019 (UTC)

Antidisenstablishmentiarians are often just called "reactionaries" in by their political opponents, for what that's worth. It's just a much more precise way of describing the nature of the reaction and the particular institutions they want to protect. And the actual name of that town is "Llanfairpwllgwyngyll", the wikipedia article about it even says the longer name was contrived as a publicity stunt. I don't think either of them are hard cases.
The hard cases for me are always like "How do I communicate the nuanced difference between supercilious and arrogant without a 3 sentence disclaimer?". I could say "He was arrogant, but in a way that was based on his own self-regard as a person, not like his ability to handle this particular situation. He was dismissive of others' ideas not necessarily confident in his own ability to succeed." I guess you could say "Sneering", but it's not quite right either. ikanreed 🐐Bleat at me 17:38, 29 April 2019 (UTC)
this reminds me of that eternal debate, that has split apart societies now only known from paintings in caves faded by millennia, and will cause us to go to our graves wracked by doubt - is it better to be called a cunt or a prick?
i feel that if at some point in a conversation someone is accused of using 'big words' it is likely the conversation has not been civil from the outset and is more an exercise in point scoring. your argument is not superior if you cannot express it a manner that can be understood by your audience, high fives from your pals wont have enlightened your foes or brought us all closer and you would not have tested your own argument against a valid counter or seen it strengthened from input from a different perspective.
no one will be complaining of big words if they wondered into a conversation about quantum physics and they did not know what a quasar is and googling wont help. it requires knowledge that is not generally encountered without you actively seeking it, and an immersion in the subject to comprehend it. we are not asking for plain english here.
most other stuff though, the politics, the civil rights stuff, the usual stuff, we all have exposure to from varying distances and from different perspectives. plain english is fine. it should be your preferred style. if communicating an idea is the point of a debate in a place such as rw, where we may not know a great deal about the backgrounds of people, the various terms we are using may have greatly differing meanings and have a greatly different impact. it can be obfuscating. it can be distancing if you are talking to someone who has direct experience of something and you are throwing out buzzwords and jargon gleaned from academic debate - it can look patronising. if you can explain your points in way that been be understood and useful to whoever you are debating, they can then give a response that can useful to you.
of course this is most likely obvious to all but goes out the window when more often than not the only big words people need to know are 'go fuck yourself' AMassiveGay (talk) 21:00, 29 April 2019 (UTC)