Ever used a foreign word in a piece of writing? Some obscure thesaurus word or technical jargon? Even better a bit of Latin? As I’ve already written, long words actually make you look more stupid, not more intelligent. But an article in Slate reveals a new risk: public ridicule.
Don’t get me wrong: I get a kick out of $10 words, too, and even use them now and again to make my pieces showier. But the psychic surcharge deters me from using them often enough to fall into the faux-erudition trap that bedevils undisciplined, rich writers like Martin Peretz, co-owner and editor-in-chief of the New Republic. He burns through $10 words and phrases like they’re kindling.
I’m feeling smug about this because I used the words laissez-faire and dirigiste in an article yesterday about French restaurants and then deleted them. Yay, me! (I was reviewing Guy Savoy, a three star place in Paris for the Robb Report – a rotten job but someone has to do it).