Saturday, May 21, 2011

Even the Government Writes Gibberish!

Anyways, I found this interesting tibit on Yahoo! News.

Apparently, according to a new law, the government must now write bills, laws, etc in ways that the general public can understand. Meaning, no more ripping off the citizens because they didn't understand the bill correctly and agreed to something that they later regretted. So out with words like, Narcissism, Haphazard, and Heinous. And in place must be words like,  annoying, dangerous, and awful.

This amused me because, a) I doubt half the senators even understood what was being written, b) if the general public can't understand it something's wrong, and c) it's just funny. Of course, apparently it's written mostly for lawyers and judges (and then do they even understand the big fancy words themselves?) and not for the general public.

According to some guidelines, which I totally agree with, federal writers have no place writing with big fancy styles and they are not creating great literature. No one sits on their comfy couch and reads a government document for fun. Okay well some people may. But no one that I know does!

So now the government must say "please" and "you must" instead of "it is requested" and "it is required". The only problem is that I think it takes away the style of the government. I mean they've always used fancy words and sentences and that's how you can tell something is government written when you can only half understand it.

This got me thinking of how much our language has changed over the years. And how much words we use. Back in Elizabethan times, "Thy", "thou" and "thee" was common and easy to understand; these days we say "like", "totally" and "you" (or u depending on who u talk to). Most people rarely use words bigger than fifteen letters and in some cases we have to "dumb" things down for people to understand it. Did you know that in North Carolina they had to make their state wide tests easier than other states because too many of the students were doing poorly on it? When instead they could have changed their teaching methods and worked on what the students were doing poorly at.

Another thing to think about is our slang. Today, especially around my school, kids call things "beast" to express when something is awesome. Back in the late 1900s, "radical" and "narly", were used to describe things in an almost similar fashion. It's interesting to see just how much language as changed over the years. Ten years ago the word "ipod" wasn't even in our dictionary! I know, shocking!

When I write, I usually try to not use so much slang, yet incorporate it in enough to make it seem more realistic. After all, I sincerely doubt that forty years from now, teenagers will be calling something "beast" when it's cool. In Night Lies, I use "confulzed" to mean when something is confusing.

When trying to decide if  you should use slang or not, you should take into consideration the time period of your story (after all, unless your writing steampunk or something close to it, I don't think teens living in the 1400s would be using the word "cool" to describe something when it's neat). Also use it out loud and in your own everyday conversations to make sure it sounds natural. If you can't use it, then will your characters be able to do so?

Also, will your characters even be using slang at all? Would an old man who doesn't care for the new fangled ideas of his grandson really be using words like, "radical" to describe something that's cool? In other words, think about who will be saying the slang and in what types of conversations, and what do the slang mean? Is it a new word that's never been used before? A word already made up but given a new twist on it's meaning? Or is it a word that is a shortened from of another word?

So, do you think this is a good idea? When you write what is your style of writing? What separates you from other writers? Do you use slang in your writing? Have you ever invented a word and what does it mean? Where did you use it?


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