Finding the right words is big business. In the content writer trade, words that fit are problem-solving products. They support innovative thinking and offer new perspectives in an easily digestible form. Words can describe and persuade. They also have rules.
Myths surround word usage rules. Some people believe “But” and “And” are unacceptable words to start a new sentence. Debates ignite and controversy waves through circles of strictness. But word practitioners and people who think a lot about expression find words that fit in spite of the rules. Below are two examples that roam outside the range of dogma but remain in the realm of reason. They use words wisely.
Author Daniel Kahneman writes in his book Thinking, Fast and Slow: “A sentence is more easily understood if it describes what an agent does than if it describes what something is, what properties it has.” Kahneman is the 2002 winner of the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences and professor of psychology at Princeton University.
In his book, he creates fictitious characters named System 1 and System 2, agents of the mind, in order to tell a story. He shuns the more descriptive “automatic system” and “effortful system” for the sake of brevity. He writes that such words take longer to say which diminishes working memory and thus reduces ability to think. He justifies his use of System 1 and System 2 this way: ”The fictitious systems make it easier for me to think about judgment and choice and will make it easier for you to understand what I say.” He shows readers what the ‘systems’ do.
Steve Jobs was inundated with criticism over the seemingly wrong use of the word different (rather than differently) in Apple’s “Think Different” ad campaign. Jobs’ biographer Walter Isaacson quotes him on his usage of the word. “It’s grammatical, if you think about what we are trying to say. It’s not think the same, it’s think different. Think differently wouldn’t hit the meaning for me.” He’s using the word as a noun, not an adverb.
Words that fit expand usage rather than restrict it. Share your examples of words used wisely here.