Sparked by Words

Posts tagged ‘common language’

I Am Not Responsible

Writers are not responsible for readers whose knowledge and life experiences are so dwarfed they can’t relate to what is written. Assuming the writer is clear and succinct in their craft, it’s the reader’s responsibility to educate himself sufficiently so he can participate in reading an extensive literature.

Imagine if it were every writer’s task to teach the alphabet before he began to write. A is for abecedarian, B is for bahadur, C is for clupeoid, Z is for zymosis.*

That being said, writers may not write in tongues, arbitrary and fabricated languages having no value other than to caress the writer’s ego. In that case, writers do need to teach the alphabet. (Perhaps as well to see a therapist.) Also the culture, the history, the aspirations, and the APO of the invented country. Maybe that should be the UPO – Universal Post Office.

Invention, however, is the domain of fiction writers. Be creative, fellow writers. Don’t teach the alphabet but do incorporate internal logic and some familiar external landmarks by which your readers can find their way. In other words, leave the light on. And a switch near at hand. At least a glossary.

Writers and readers need have a shared ground and some common sense. We are all responsible for that much.



abecedarian: a person who is learning the alphabet

bahadur: a distinguished personage

clupeoid: like the herrings

zymosis: fermentation

Definitions from The World Book Dictionary, 1987, in two-volumes


Just a thought 7



Dictionary page image courtesy: