September 24th, 2008


Last Christmas, one of my dear friends gave me a calendar with a usage tip every day. When I am falsely accused of being too anal-retentive to live and they are about to cart me away, I plan to point to this calendar, not because of its content, but because I often have at least a week’s worth of pages to pull off in order to see the current day.

The function of this calendar is not to tell me what the date is, since I don’t remember to pull off the old pages. It is not to teach me good usage. It is there as an ego-boost, unless it is there to make me deplore the usage of the general public.

Today’s tip focuses on the word simplistic. Here is what it says:

“Simplistic” means “overly simple” and is always used negatively. Don’t substitute it when you just mean to say “simple” or even “very simple.”

Who makes this mistake? I seem to be blessed with exceptionally gifted friends who use language well. Heck, Syd wouldn’t make this mistake. (Hmm… I’ll test T.R. this afternoon to see if he knows this word. He has an amazing vocabulary for an 11-year-old, but he doesn’t know everything yet…) The most common error among people I know is in pronunciation when someone uses a word in conversation that he or she has only seen in writing.

To put this simply, thank you, lovely people, for being smart and funny and capable. And for reading this simplistic piece of prose.