Essay Thesaurus

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I quickly found this article (part of a book called ) and the mystery was solved: the IJOHMN paper appears to be a direct copy of the book extract, with various words replaced with synonyms, presumably with the help of a thesaurus.

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But when I sat down with the editor, his words weren’t exactly the ones I was expecting to hear.

The first thing he said to me was, “You’re a writer who likes the thesaurus, aren’t you?

I decided to have a go myself: Lore maintains the legend of invention as a lonely endeavor, a spark of creative revelation, a Eureka! Humans, it seems, want to believe in the harsh individualism of innovation, maybe because they seldom get the chance to witness the sausage-making labor underlying each landmark discovery. I did all the replacements manually, without using a thesaurus.

The result is certainly less elegant than the original, but it’s much better than the IJOHMN version.

” Turns out my obsession with using the thesaurus to make my writing “better” was a pretty bad idea.

Here are the life-changing lessons the editor imparted on me, and why you need to be very cautious when using the thesaurus: Although there are absolutely times when you need a thesaurus—to find a more descriptive way to say something, to see if you made the best possible word choice—you still want to make sure you always exercise caution, and say, “Do I really need this?

For instance, while “modernism” might mean the same thing as “innovation” in the context of art history, in other situations it makes no sense at all to switch them.

I wonder, however, if a careful plagiarist could Roget a text without making it look stupid?

Rogeting would probably fool any common plagiarism detection software, but done sloppily (like in the IJOHMN paper) it produces very strange prose.

Many synonyms just don’t make sense out of context.


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