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April 20, 2006 Study: Using big words needlessly makes you seem stupider

Everyone knows how college students will try to make themselves sound smarter by reaching for the thesaurus and using big, ponderous words they barely understand. But now a new study shows that readers can see through this. Daniel Oppenheimer, a psychologist at Princeton, took a handful of writing samples and used a thesaurus to replace the simple words with needlessly flowery ones. As the Bad Language blog notes:

He created a "highly complex" version of each original text by replacing each noun, verb and adjective in it with the longest synonym. This is the kind of writing by thesaurus that many business people and techies employ when they want to sound knowledgeable and important or because they think writing like they speak will make them sound lightweight.

Arlington TX
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TOPIC: A post that's taylor made for our friend Zango