aprilhenry (aprilhenry) wrote,

Are words dying? How about punctuation?

In an article in Ad Age a copywriter mourns the death of words in advertising, how lifeless words seem compared to images.

Carol Shields once told me she thought words were dying:
Shields: Well, I'd think I'd heard—which is quite alarming—that 5,000 words have dropped out of the average vocabulary in the last 10 years—if that's true, that's very alarming, isn't it? If it's true.

Henry: It doesn't seem like many people even have 5,000 words.

Shields: One of the words that occurs to me is the word feisty. The New Yorker never used to allow that word. And I can see why because it replaces about 10 other words, gradations of feistiness.

Henry: Why do you think that's happening?

Shields: We're an image culture. I suppose we used to be a word culture, we are still, many people are still very concerned about language and books and words.

Henry: Do you think that the language of images is as rich as the language of words?

Shields: Not for me it's not. It's not ever. And you know I've had this argument with people, film people, especially, would defend this. I always say I prefer books to films because I want to know how people think. They say oh, well, we just get the actor's face and that expression tells you what's he's thinking. But not for me. It's not accurate enough. It's never as nuanced as what that interior voice is saying.

How about punctuation? Read about the sad fate of the comma here.

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Tags: writing

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