The Volokh Conspiracy
Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent
"If a man uses a word I've never heard before, my attraction radar surges to Defcon 1. Likewise if he uses somewhat poetic, non-standard language, my brain enters orgasmatron mode. Long complicated words, beautiful poetry, technical phrases that I don't understand are all tantamount to talking dirty to me. In other words, I like big words and I cannot lie." So writes blogger Hazel Leese, a self-described "sapiosexual."
My thinking: Using unfamiliar words, at least in adults—or technical phrases that your listeners don't understand—is probably something of a proxy for intelligence, but on balance a pretty poor one, compared to the alternative proxies. And while somewhat poetic, nonstandard language can indeed be interesting and attractive in some contexts, it's counterproductive in most. For most practical, nonerotic uses, I prefer the advice of Winston Churchill, whose own sapio- credentials are pretty good:
Short words are best, and the old words, when short, are the best of all.
Thanks to Sarah Hoyt at InstaPundit for the pointer.
UPDATE: Commenter jph12 adds:
"If a man uses a word I've never heard before, my attraction radar surges to Defcon 1."
So full alert and ready to repel any advances?