Richard Lederer: The Case for Short Words

  • Category: Literature, Writers,
  • Pages: 2
  • Words: 537
  • Published: 12 March 2021
  • Copied: 126


The American author and speaker, Richard Lederer is known as the “verbivore” because of his personal interests in phrase origins.He points out common grammatical mistakes and fallacies as well. Smaller words fulfill your needs with the strength and beauty that larger words don’t have. In the essay “The Case for Short Words" the author Richard Lederer speaks/writes to the public in order to differentiate the meaning of smaller and larger words through the use of logos. 

In the essay, Lederer’s use of phrase origins while pointing out common grammatical errors and fallacies. His pieces are evident through his use of logos. Lederer discusses why larger words do not have as much grace and charm as smaller words. He describes, “big words at times seem strange to the eye and the ear and the mind and the heart. Small words are the ones [we] seem to have known from the time we were born” (Lederer, 2). Lederer feels that to tap into the energy and eloquence of small words, one needs not be a great author, statesman, or philosopher. Short words can meet the needs of the audience with strength of the word, not length. Lederer illustrates a feeling of shorter words being essential to an essay. “short words are bright like sparks that glow in the night, prompt like the dawn that greets the day, sharp like the blade of a knife, hot like salt tears that scald the cheek, quick like moths that flit from flame to flame” (3). Lederer analyzes the connotation of smaller words by applying visual concepts of the smaller words. He likes to utilize smaller words rather than larger words because smaller words create bigger ideas. Broadly speaking, Lederer authenticates the sense that smaller words are more suitable than larger words in a text. 

As above, through the use of logos, Lederer’s use of phrase origins, pointing out common grammatical errors and fallacies is evident to his essay. According to Lederer, “when you speak and write, there is no law that says [you] have to use big words. Short words are as good as long ones, and short, old words— like sun and grass and home—are best of all” (Lederer, 1). Lederer explains that most students use terms that are dragged out and complicated just because the larger words look more “scholarly.” Lederer feels that you don’t have to take the complicated terms in account, you use the simpler terms to make things easier.“here is a sound rule: Use small, old words where [you] can. If a long word says just what [you] want to say, do not fear to use it. But know that our tongue is rich in crisp, brisk, swift, short words” (Lederer, 4). Richard justifies that students of the English language should aim for ‘simplicity and ease’ when using terms. Lederer thinks that simple comprehension is quicker and more straightforward to the reader and learner. 

As recognized in “The Case for Short Words” Lederer’s uses of short words exemplifies the differences between shorter and larger words using logos. Lederer discusses why shorter words get your point across much faster rather than a larger word might. He also tap’s the eloquence of smaller words with their “crispness” and “swiftness.” Thus, according to Lederer, we can communicate the idea that we are trying to get across to the reader or listener in a much simpler way by using shorter phrases. Lederer assumes using smaller words will convey one's thoughts more simply and precisely.