In this morning’s National Post, our dear Fr. Raymond de Souza, once again seems intent on drawing attention to himself with this sentence in his column: “Just this week the Ontario government announced niggardly compensation for parents who were wrongfully convicted of molesting and killing their own children.” Now the word that jumped out at me was “niggardly”. This is perfectly good word and should not be confused with the “N” word, if you will excuse me, nigger. They are unrelated. BUT… many people will be caught off guard.
Most writers would avoid, or if you prefer eschew, the use of words that have lost common usage or are politically insensitive. I think we need to find some balance. It’s like with the new translation of the liturgy. How to balance making things accessible, for example, using the word “avoid” rather than… e.g. “eschew”. On the other hand language can become rather pedestrian… or “common place” or too casual.
Is the intent to sound smarter than we are? Are we looking for attention? Or is our goal to communicate better?