I recently bought an art reference book, which discusses how certain illustrious artists from Degas to Picasso have used photography to document, influence or inspire the creation of some of their most famous works. The book is quite fascinating, filled with gorgeous photographs to illustrate the concepts and is a large format hardcover book. However, after starting off on the first paragraph of the introduction, I almost threw it in the bin. These are a few words taken from just one of the opening paragraphs:
Synaesthetic, metonymic, sacerdotal, artistic bibelots, verisimilitude, mimetic domain, peregrination, entropic, maelstrom, dichotomy, fin de siècle, simulacrum, epistemological logic, panchromatic tonal scale, excoriate, synecdochial ….
I actually got a headache trying to read the opening sections of this book. Eventually, I abandoned the introduction entirely and concentrated on the individual chapters, which were contributed by different authors. I persevered. It got easier.
Whilst I am not averse to using the correct word or phrase, I feel that in some cases, it is more apt and less pompous for a writer to actually take the trouble to use plain old English when describing what he or she is trying to say. This tome was not touted as an ‘academic’ book, so why use all the confolutin’ language? I looked up the words and by the way, some online dictionaries couldn’t give me any explanation of what some of these terms meant!
Synaesthetic – Involving more than one sense
Metonymic – using a word that describes one of its qualities
Sacerdotal – garments (religious)
Artistic bibelots – bibelot – a small decorative object
Verisimilitude – the quality of appearing true
Mimetic domain – mimetic – relating to mimicry
Peregrination – a long journey, travelling to different places, on foot.
Entropic – having a tendency to change from a state of order to a state of disorder.
Maelstrom – a situation where there is great chaos and confusion (a bit like reading this tome)
Dichotomy – a difference between two completely different ideas
Fin de siècle – relating to the end of the 19th century
Simulacrum – something that looks like or represents something else.
Epistemological logic – ‘epistemological’ relating to the part of philosophy that is about the study of how we know things
Panchromatic tonal scale – ‘panchromatic’ – using all colours.
Excoriate – to write or say that a book, play, political action is very bad
Synecdochial – Using an inclusive term for something included or vice versa.