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misty123's avatar

If some words are interchangeable, what is the point of keeping them all?

Asked by misty123 (407points) July 13th, 2015

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27 Answers

Mimishu1995's avatar

Because one word is better used in one context than another, and some words are needed to make things like poems rhythmic.

cazzie's avatar

It adds to the richness of a language. It also gives people like myself a reason to get up in the morning. Some days words are all I have. I make fun of the Norwegian language because their side of the translation dictionary is considerably thinner. It ends up a harsh and rude sounding language without all the nuanced words like English has. The richness of the English language becomes my refuge, my cocoon and my sword here.

Apparently_Im_The_Grumpy_One's avatar

To, two, too, and tutu. It’s all too much.

Half the time I hate english for its complexity. The other half of the time I’m enjoying the craftiness of those wordsmiths who really know how to make it work.

jca's avatar

We should throw the extra words in the garbage?

Apparently_Im_The_Grumpy_One's avatar

Absolutely not. We should toss the superfluous vocabulary into the refuse.

JLeslie's avatar

Because a story, even a single paragraph, will sound awful with the same words repeated over and over again. Most synonyms do have slightly different meanings and sometimes a particular word is most appropriate. The English language is messy, what can I say.

From what I understand English has fewer words than many other languages. I’m not sure if that’s true or not.

Bill1939's avatar

While words may have similar meanings, they have nuances that make choosing one over another significant. Personally, I do not like to use the same word several times in a paragraph or even a page, so I frequently consult my thesaurus to find alternatives, which often convey more meaning than the word I sought to change.

Pachy's avatar

Lovers of the written and spoken word know and appreciate the subtle, often extremely subtle_ differences among so-called interchangeable ones. I can’t even imagine how dry English or any language would be with only a single noun, verb or adjective to describe a feeling, action, description or any other communicative meaning.

LostInParadise's avatar

English is a language brothel. Whereas some countries, notably France and Spain, try to exercise some control over what enters the language (not always successfully), speakers of English welcome words from any language they come in contact with. This adds to the richness of the language but will inevitably add some redundancies, though many of these redundancies have slight contextual differences, adding to the language’s expressiveness.

Perhaps the most dramatic change in English followed the Norman conquest of England. The Norman royalty and associates spoke in French, lending a snob appeal to the words they introduced. See, for example, this article

kritiper's avatar

You can use a meaning more than once without using the same word and not sound unsophisticated.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Women are all the same – they’re interchangeable. Why do we need more than one?

Food is all pretty much the same. Why do we need variety?

Mystery books all have the same plot – why do we need more than one?

zenvelo's avatar

Your question’s premise is false.

Words are not interchangeable, each has its own nuance. That nuance is what provides insight into a person’s thinking.

stanleybmanly's avatar

How do you propose we get rid of them? Can you prohibit,ban,forbid their usage?

gailcalled's avatar

I will certainly help with a ban on “awesome,” “suck” and “lol.”

gailcalled's avatar

Number of words (give or take) in English vs. some other languages:

Beaten only by Chinese, English comes in second in list of the world’s most spoken languages:

cazzie's avatar

If people could stop saying ‘like’ in every sentence or two, that would be, like, great. Thanks.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Riiiiighttttttt. Man.

Zaku's avatar

Words are used for more than just information transfer. q.v. poetry, lyrics, literature, comedy, innuendo, and other nuances.

ZEPHYRA's avatar

@cazzie you took the words right out of my mouth as regards using ” like ” before and after every word.

RocketGuy's avatar

Read 1984 to see what happens when you remove extraneous words.

sahID's avatar

@cazzie Like, absolutely right—it is badly needed. Even worse is the dismissive “like, what ever.

sahID's avatar

@LostInParadise Wow. Thank you for sharing that fascinating article. I never realized how rich and varied the historical development on contemporary English is, and the impact on early development by early Norse settlers.

Also, keep in mind that, as a living language, English is constantly evolving, with new wor_ds gaining wide acceptance even as older words fade into general disuse. For example, people (who aren’t trying to sound like language snobs) routinely use while instead of the older whilst. Likewise, people generally use where in place of the much older whither.

In a more technological sense, do people still use the term type when producing printed text, or do they use the more modern term key board?

jca's avatar

@sahID: At home, I use hither in place of here. It’s a private joke with my daughter.

JLeslie's avatar

@gailcalled I interpreted your link completely differently than you did. English is not near the top.

My Russian girlfriend told me that when she learned English she needed to learn about 1,000 words to be able to communicate fairly well. I thought it was interesting she stated it that way. I had never thought about language in those terms.

wsxwh111's avatar

I think words are like colors of the world. More words mean more choices and possibility to be more accurate, specific and vivid on expressing and describing emotions.

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