Language Hat – Interesting linguistic site blogged here by the Apothecary.
In view of the Owen Barfield posts below, and coming next, you’ll understand why this post on an (sic) obscure word struck a chord too. If we only ever read writers who only ever used words we already knew in contexts we already knew, everything would be extremely boring and sterile – and, more’s the point, knowledge would never advance. Interesting given Barfield’s point extolling Archaism, that this particular complaint is about William Gibson using a word from common currency in the early 19th century.
There’s is a valid point here actually about education and learning of the individual, not being left behind some elite snobbery at the level of advancement of human knowledge. The point would be all the more poignant if the particular word “Luddite” was reasonably obscure anyway, but even now I find a dictionary-rate tolerance myself. I’m reasonable educated, intelligent and I’m deliberately reading a great deal at present with learning in mind, but even I have a threshhold for how many words I need either to look-up or battle through in ignorance, before deciding a book is too much effort. No gain without pain, but you can have too much pain for too little gain, unless you’re a masochist. Give the girl a chance (eek – on second thoughts this is not some teenager, she’s actually a published sci-fi author herself in a spat with Gibson – and describes Neuromancer as a “yawner”.)
Which reminds me I still haven’t read Gibson yet, so I’d better be careful what I say.
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