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"'The Frugal Editor: Do-It-Yourself Editing Secrets for Authors' is a complete course of instruction under one cover." ~ Jim Cox Editor-in-Chief Midwest Book Review

Monday, March 13, 2017

Micro Rant on Generational Differences and Vocabulary Words

I had an article criticized because "young folks won't know what you mean by Rolodex." 

Here's the thing. "Rolodex" makes a dandy metaphor for a group of contacts related to a specific subject. So, does it hurt if we use a word that people have to look up now and then? Isn't it possible to use "Rolodex" in a context that people can quickly grasp its meaning without looking it up? And aren't words more than so much use-and-toss garbage? Take "Rolodex." It's an example of a brand name that vividly brings to mind what we do with one. It rolls and it's a kind of index for personal or business use. 

About the idea of ascertaining the meaning of a word by its context. Most writers do that frequently. Khaled Housseini uses whole sentences in several Afghani languages in his novels and I'm assuming his readers mostly figure out what was said. It's called technique and we writers should know how to do that. We used to teach analytical skills in school, didn't we? We shouldn't give up on that, either.

What if we just discard the word and any others our grandkids don't get? We could start a list of words my grandson might not get--starting with "typewriter." If we start eliminating from our dictionaries what those from prior generations don't remember, we may also have to eliminate some of the greatest books of all times.

Is this rant moving from "micro" to "mini?" Sorry about that.


 Carolyn Howard-Johnson is the author of fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry. She is also a marketing consultant, editor, and author of the multi award-winning #HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers including the award-winning second editions of The Frugal Book Promoter and The Frugal Editor. Her latest is in the series is How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically. Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers is one of her booklets--perfect for inexpensive gift giving--and The Great First Impression Book Proposal, another booklet, helps writers who want to be traditionally published. She has three FRUGAL books for retailers including one she encourages authors to read because it will help them convince retailers to host their workshops, presentations, and signings. It is A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. She helps writers extend the exposure of their favorite reviews at She also blogs at all things editing--grammar, formatting and more--at The Frugal, Smart,and Tuned-In Editor ( Her blog focuses on the writing life and book marketing and promotion. It is a Writers' Digest 101 Best blogs pick.
Learn more on her Amazon profile page,


Wanda Luthman said...

Hahaha! If we have to throw out things our kid/grandkids don't get or don't know of, then we might have to quit speaking all together! I think it is perfectly okay to use a word that younger people don't get. They might just learn something.

Karen Cioffi-Ventrice said...

Oh, boy. Something else for people to complain about. Haven't they heard of a dictionary or getting the gist of the word from the context. And, Wanda is right, we'd have to stop talking if we couldn't use words our grandkids don't understand.

Linda Wilson said...

I think it's a good idea to use words like "rolodex." It reminds young people we of our generation are still around!

Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

Do you all think we should all join in writing a memoir anthology? We could probably get a lot of people to contribute, say, 500 words or less, and use it as a promotional e-book.

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