Big words claim too much attention (Joubert).
In high school, a Freshman English teacher whom I remember mostly for her protruding teeth and slightly sardonic teaching mode, talked frequently about little words and big words, placing a pseudo-monetary value upon them: one-dollar words, five, then twenty, up maybe to fifty-dollar words.
I wanted, I recall, to know them all, ordinary to obscure, simple to elegant. But I hated using a too-big word when a cheaper one would do as well. A question of who I am, of audience, of a too-cheap impression, a trying to take on a mantle of faked elegance, where ordinary seemed more genuine? A friend, I remember, now a physician-professor at an important university, used the highest priced word he could find to do the job. I felt jolted, cheated, trying to make something appear better than it was, the words overtaking the content, the form calling loudly: “Here I am!”
I, who have spent much time with words: translating, writing, reading Thesaurus’ entries moving from one skein to others, want the words to do the job, to work, to attract, to scream even when screaming is useful – or necessary. But too big words proclaim themselves, stand out, want to be re-read, repeated, to grow…
Big words: claim too much attention.