Why do some writers believe that archaic or overly formal language improves their copy?
In a perfectly reasonable feature I was subbing yesterday, the writer referred to someone having "a pecuniary interest" in a project. The OED defines "pecuniary" as "(formal) of, relating to, or consisting of money". So "pecuniary" is accurate, but at least some readers would be left scratching their heads – or they would if I hadn't replaced it with "monetary".
My first choice, by the way, was "financial" but when I checked with the OED I discovered that "finance" is "the management of large amounts of money, especially by governments or large companies". So while all financial transactions are monetary, not all monetary transactions are financial.
In everyday speech such differences are hardly earth-shattering. But these subtleties are what makes English such a fascinating language, don't you think?
3 days ago