Clinging to clarity

An article on Slate’s The Good Word poses the question: how long should we cling to a word’s original meaning?

The “Nonplussed” Problem suggests that, sometimes, sticking to a word’s original meaning can be a good thing — especially if there is no other synonym to replace it. Language is often about nuance and subtlety; something you don’t when you use “awesome” to describe everything that is good, superb, fabulous or wonderful.

As native of England who moved to the U.S. as a teenager, I still run into language differences among family and colleagues. There are many words I no longer use because doing so causes confusion or misunderstanding. Take the word “chuffed,” for instance. I used that in a meeting this week and, while coworkers got the gist of it through context, it was a word they were unfamiliar with. That unfamiliarity reduces the clarity of your communication.

As a professional communicator, while I love to use multitudes of words that spark your imagination and bring lightness to prose, if you end up not communicating your message clearly, then you’re not succeeding at your primary goal.

Note: Chuffed = very pleased