The "Word of the Day" screensaver that comes built into macOS is a lovely distraction at times. Every 24 hours there is another list of words that cycle on the screen, complete with a phonetic spelling and definition. A lot of times the selected words are ones I've known for years and occasionally new ones pop up. For reasons that are not exactly clear to me, I try to use these new words in messages and conversations that day as it's an effective way of naturally building a lexicon. Every so often I get the feeling that this practice is something a lot of people around the world ascribe to as well. A few weeks back the word "loquacious" scrolled across the screen and not a day later was an article on a well-read news site with that very same word. Coincidence? Perhaps. If it happens once. But it doesn't. This is something that I see time and time again. Not a week goes by when one of the less-common words selected for display in "Word of the Day" doesn't make an appearance elsewhere in my reading. This is a good thing, too. What better way to reinforce newly acquired language than to be exposed to it again in an Anki-like manner?
One of today's words was, as the title of this post suggests, "magniloquent". This adjective means to use high-flown or bombastic language; bombastic meaning high-sounding but with little meaning. A lot of people would probably associate magniloquent speech to that of a politician or a person who simply likes the sound of their own voice. Heck, I could be accused of speaking magniloquently during a number of recent meetings at work. Yet, when I think about the word a bit more, something different springs to mind: text-based media.
Perhaps I've just become more aware of grandstanders and soap-box preachers since leaving Twitter in 2014, but it does seem that a great number of articles online are replete with an excessive number of adjectives that are used to inflate the significance of a topic beyond what might be considered excessive. This isn't limited to any particular group or people with certain ideologies. It's everywhere. In an effort to get our ideas across the void and into other people's minds, we've had to turn the volume up to eleven. This means exacerbating the issue of bombastic writing with superfluous terms and locutions, obscuring our ultimate objectives with turgid euphemisms that give us the appearance of being intellectually on par with the likes of Martha Nussbaum, René Descartes, and Alan Watts.
Very few of us could ever hope to be so cognitively gifted; and fewer still would actually want to be.
Still, it's nice to watch the words scroll past and use them to make sentences in our head, sentences we say out loud, and sentences we put to text. Sometimes we'll use a word wrong. Sometimes we'll learn the correct meaning of a word. Sometimes we'll pick up something new. And if that new word gives us a reason to pen an archetypal article or blog post, then so be it.