Today, a little voice inside me poked me in the ribs and said, “pssst! Go look up pedantic. I bet that word applies to you, too.”
And I could almost hear that little voice trail off before it could say more, because it was dissolving in laughter.
The joke is on me, once again (wink).
(Warning: I’m about to get pedantic. Omg, I totally used that in a sentence!)
Google says that “pedantic” means:
“of or like a pedant.”
Well that sure crystal-clears things up. Not.
But then came the example sentence:
“many of the essays are long, dense, and too pedantic to hold great appeal”
Still not quite satisfied, I kept looking. The sentence didn’t really clarify anything for me, but it did start to give a sense of legitimacy to that bratty little Inner Voice, the one being entertained at my expense.
Wiki, the eyeroll of many, usually does come through for me. My success with it depends on who wrote the entry and how knowledgeable, reliable, and communicative they are. Not all entries are created equal, but since I immediately check for footnoted sources or compare what’s been written with what other reliable sources are saying, I feel comfortable using it as a source when I’m satisfied.
And today, Wiki came out shining down on me once again:
“excessively concerned with formalism, accuracy, and precision, or one who makes an ostentatious and arrogant show of learning.”
That’s better. Now I have a firmer grasp of the concept.
And one part of the definition fits me to a “T”. The other part, not so much.
In this post, I’ll talk about the part that fits.
I am excessively concerned with accuracy. In a bout of black-and-white logic, I don’t necessarily see any issue with being accurate and precise, nor do I have a bone to pick with placing a fairly high importance on those qualities; in fact, I almost think it’s silly to pathologize it in that way. (“Excessively”?)
There might indeed be a limit, one that I’ve just not yet found. I could see there being an issue if someone becomes sleep-deprived because they were up all night trying to recall that one Right Word that would describe or express something perfectly. The word that’s on the tip of their tongue but they just can’t bring it into consciousness, and a dictionary or even a thesaurus would be of no help.
That could pose a problem.
I think I’ve probably done exactly that.
I admit, I do place a high importance on accuracy and precision, and I strive to express myself as clearly as possible.
This often demands that I use “big” words, words that are not commonly used in everyday conversation. It might also mean that I go on and on about something, until I feel that I’ve expressed myself fully and correctly.
Is there anything wrong with that?
Personally, I hope not. I’m sure it might get boring or monotonous for some. But I’m just trying to get it right.
Lat night, I got to thinking…
I’m reading Tony Attwood’s “The Complete Guide To Asperger Syndrome” out loud to my partner at night, and truth be told, I’m still having sudden, random, “a-ha!” moments.
Last night’s light-bulb moment was when he mentioned that in his clinical experience, Aspergian/autistic people are often drawn to other cultures, and he specifically named Ancient Egypt and Japan.
I did a complete Cognitive Cartwheel! I grinned from ear to ear, rolled my eyes good-naturedly, and said, “oh my gosh. He did not just say that.”
This took my partner and me on a brief conversational side-trip about how I wish I could’ve lived in either one of those societies. I mean, as far as Egypt goes, what’s not to like? They were into some pretty far-out stuff; their God(dess) pantheon is pretty cool, they held cats in high esteem, and they wrote in hieroglyphics!
The hieroglyphics would have been a whole lot cooler than alphabet-based language. Sure you have to learn a ton of characters, but then you just have to write three of them and you’ve just conveyed a message the equivalent to an entire paragraph of letter-based writing.
It’s still accurate. But it’s also efficient. Whenever I can combine accuracy with efficiency, that brings me a little slice of heaven or something.
Out loud, my partner and I, in mutual agreement, compared and contrasted the glyphic-based writing systems with those based on alphabetical letters, especially that of American English. American English has been so bleached out and reduced to the lowest common denominator; so much meaning has been lost, so many concepts made word-homeless.
(See? You should totally come and hang out at our house at night. We talk about cool shizz. 😉 )
And I realized that that’s exactly why it takes me forever to identify and settle upon just the right words, or why I might keep going on until I feel satisfied that I’ve gotten it right. The words themselves that I have at my disposal are clunky and brutish. They’re not “advanced” enough to communicate my message.
So, I can opt for one of two choices:
- I can use “big” words and get accused of being an egotistical show-off, or
- I can use “simple, everyday” words that take longer to express my thoughts because they just don’t “go there” by their nature; I have to “push” them, which usually means using a lot more of them.
I’m either a “show-off” or a “monotonous robot”.
Hell, I can’t win (lol).
Then, the question becomes, given the rudimentary linguistic tools I have to work with, is it a character flaw that I feel I have to choose between showing off or failing to shut up?
To Be Continued (in the next post)…