Build Your Vocabulary
Many people think big words belong only to the “highly educated,” and that a large vocabulary makes you a pretentious snob. True, some people use big words simply to impress their friends. They only care about the superficial aspects of words. But effective writers have grown their word toolbox by reading a lot across different genres. They’ve picked up words, and use the ones they consider the most appropriate in the moment. You don’t always need to use big words, but building your vocabulary will improve your writing and your reading.
Many disciplines and professions have developed their own special language or “jargon.” It may seem exclusionary or unfair, but we can’t do anything about that in the short term. Often, that specialized language has evolved to serve a variety of purposes, and it makes sense for people who work in the same field to share a kind of code language. Otherwise, they might waste a lot of time and effort trying to explain the same idea over and over again. One of the biggest goals of learning to write well means becoming attuned to these forms of jargon.
Academic discourse includes a large set of words that many researchers and professionals share in common, which may appear less often in everyday conversation. As we’ve mentioned, not everyone who uses academic discourse has to work as a professor. Anyone who does research according to a certain set of guidelines and principles could qualify as an academic. Also, what we call “academic” language often bleeds into other types of discourse like professional, technical, legal, and even business writing.
Some words do appear more commonly in journals and magazines more so than in everyday conversation. That doesn’t mean you just avoid these words. Academics don’t own them. They’ve simply adopted them because they convey the meanings they want.