Hi. I was wondering what you guys thought about simple vs. complicated wording in essays; does simple wording ultimately seem more sophisticated? I've read that verbosity is not a good thing, but as far as I can tell, at school, the best marks are given to essays that appear "sophisticated", but are actually quite convoluted. For example, here is an excerpt of an essay that I think is unnecessarily verbose:
(Topic question: Assess the extent to which Nazi Germany was a totalitarian state in the period to 1945.)
"The Intentionalist contention that Hitler had a pre-determined plan to annihilate the Jews and initiate a campaign of world conquest, which essentially suggests that the Nazi regime was a coordinated, efficient and totalitarian one, is quite rightly challenged by structuralists such as Ian Kershaw and martin Broszat, whom cite that the Nazi regime was only superficially totalitarian. Indeed, the spiralling radicalisation of the regime's policies and practices, as well as its lack of a cohesive structure, preclude the notion that the Nazi state was totalitarian in nature up to 1945. The "institutional anarchy" of the regime, in diametric opposition to Stalinist and more conventional forms of totalitarianism, resulted in it becoming "increasingly divorced from reality in the process of decision-making" according to structuralist Hans Mommsen.
Carl Friedrich's 'six-point syndrome', often touted as the definitive criteria through which to determine the totalitarianism of any regime, is tenuous owing to its lack of consideration of the inner structure of an effective totalitarian state. Despite the fact that Nazism clearly conformed to Friedrich's six points - it had an absolute leader in the form of the Fuhrer; elaborate ideology in the form of Nazism, which propagated ideals of Volksgemeinschaft and the image of an invincible 1000-year Reich; single party control through the NSDAP; a monopoly over the media through the Nazi-controlled DNB; a monopoly over weapons; and central control of the economy - the classification of Germany up to 1945 as a totalitarian state is brought into question when comparing it to more definitive totalitarian regimes such as the USSR's."
Here is another:
"In A Bend in the River, V.S. Naipaul utilises pathos and catharsis to impose his neo-colonialist socio-political paradigms upon Africa, and passes judgment on the Third World's position in "this changing reality." In the context of 1979 Africa, and the prevalence of elitist, neo-colonialist perception, Naipaul elevates the cosmopolitan reality of the "global culture" and "embraces" modernity by reconciling it with Western existence, while consigning the post-colonial fallout of Africa to alienation from this "changing reality." While masquerading as a colonial apologist, Naipaul's narrator, Salim, reveals his genuine "existential philosophy" which dominates the novel, at its outset: "The world is what it is; men who are nothing, who allow themselves to become nothing, have no place in it." As subsequent events in the novel bear out, Naipaul considers Africans an anomaly - he does not consider them worthy of a place within the new global order, but nor does he believe that Africans can "preserve their traditional values" in the face of it. The ensuing ambiguity and loss of identity corresponds directly to an erosion of "traditional boundaries of time and space" - and Naipaul's characters express this post modern chaos in a "range of individual responses," which range from the pathetic to the cathartically enraged. Through both "circumstance" and "choice," Naipaul believes that the Third World will ultimately be consumed by "this changing reality" - and, simultaneously, have no part in it. " (Enclosed in "" are quotations or citations.)
To me, verbosity isn't necessarily bad, since phonetic variation can, to an extent, to shape meaning, and thus add to style.
Any comments would be appreciated.
It is always important to keep in mind that the function of writing is to communicate. If your intended reader has a hard time slogging through the multi-syllabic words and tiresomely long sentences, then the purpose of the writing has not been accomplished!
While from a strictly grammatical standpoint none of the above sentences is a "run-on" sentence, several of them could leave a reader gasping for air. Notice, too, the improper use of "whom" instead of "who" in the first selection and "but nor" in the second. Just because it's fancier doesn't make it right!
You are absolutely correct that variation adds to style, but "verbosity," by definition, means using a superfluous amount of words. A few carefully chosen words outshine an excessive and pretentious amount every time!