I’m not proud of this. I’d prefer to be a guy who can refer to a version or edition or plain old instance of something, and who doesn’t go around saying iteration over and over again. Alas, that is not me. And I found out about my iteration malady in the most jarring way possible. I had just started a new job. One day, a few weeks in, I heard three different colleagues with whom I interact often use the word iteration independent of one another. When the third of these, a woman I knew prior to taking the job, said it, I stopped her mid-sentence. ‘Wait, did you just say iteration? Why is everyone saying that word here?’ Her response hit me like an unabridged thesaurus to the dome. ‘You should be psyched,’ she shot back. ‘That’s one of your words.’
Who has a bigger vocabulary: Shakespeare or André 3000? It’s actually Outkast. Data scientist Matt Daniels created an infographic that charts 85 rappers’ unique vocabulary in their first 35,000 lyrics. Outkast uses 5,212 unique words; whereas, Shakespeare only uses 5,170. But Aesop Rock beats the Bard by more than 2,000 words with a count of 7,392 unique words.
Interdisciplinarity – Inquiry across academic disciplines.
At Buck Duke’s Babbitt factory in Durham, N.C., this clumsy word is clattering off many tongues, as in this sentence from Duke University’s website: ‘In the most recent university strategic plan, ‘Making a Difference 2006.’ interdisciplinarity, or ‘inquiry across disciplines,’ was reaffirmed as an integral part of the university’s identity.’ Such coinages are the result of the impulse, common in academia, to replace perfectly serviceable simple words with one big fat important-sounding lump of bombast. Americans should leave this dubious art to the Germans, who are much better at it than we are. Consider the German word Donaudampfschifffahrtsgesellschaftskapitän, which translates as River Danube Steamship Society Captain. Those Germans are unrivaled masters of the verbal train wreck.