Let's start with the facts. The average adult knows 30,000-40,000 words. Oxford Dictionaries estimates the english language approaches 750,000 words. That means (at the top end) we only know about 5% of what the language povides. Whoa.
How many words are there that I don't know? Better yet, how many words do I know? As a writer, harnessing the english language is essential. Ofcourse, I don't need to litter my prose with words like anathema or ecumenical to feel like I'm using everything our language has to offer. It just makes me sound pretentious and my writing can be confusing if I strive to go "high-brow". Do you really want someone reading your writing to stop every few minutes to look up a word? Kinda takes out of the whole experience, dontcha-think?
There is a giant hitch here. Kinda like trying to solve an unsolvable puzzle. Where's the line between using your expansive vocabulary to your advantage and to your detriment? I mean, you want people to understand you. Right? But it's also nice to use words that not everyone may know, but describe what you want tosay perfectly. So,what do you do?
I've been accused of sounding pretentious, but I don't think that qualifies as an insult. Why should I stop using my vocabulary? And I don't. I use it everyday, in as many ways I can. I talk A LOT. I can see the sea of nods right now. It's like flexng a muscle, really. And it also helps me get a grasp on words that may be new to me. And in peparation for refining my novel, I've been doing crosswords, word games, usin word aday apps and so-on. And you bet your ass I'll be using new words in conversation. And I always ecourage people to ask what a word is when they don't know why waste that opportunity?
Check out these cool places to brush up your language skills!
http://dynamo.dictionary.com/ (this game will estimate how many words you know, and gets more accurate the more you play)