English simplicty vs. ornateness from Mike Rowe

I’m blown away by Mike Rowe. Just because the content of his show didn’t focus on the grandiose or heady-white-collar concerns doesn’t mean this guy isn’t amazingly sharp, well-spoken and sophisticated in thought.

There are so many interesting topics discussed in his recent talk with Tim Ferriss. Check the full episode out here.

Specifically, I love words and Mike is a master wordsmith and challenges the commandment of many writers and writing teachers to keep things simple.

Here’s a great, funny, exchange I wanted to highlight for myself that speaks to this thing I too wrestle with:

Tim: “You have a very impressive vocabulary, where did that come from?”

Mike: “… I think there is something really elegant, and maybe indulgent, about finding a different way to say a thing. And so I think I often, in an attempt to turn a phrase, I’ll play with the language a lot and stumble across words that I wouldn’t otherwise use.

Look: I’ve read Elmore Leonard and Hemingway and I understand how important it is to be simple and brief. I really do. In fact, that’s probably the most important thing — which is why I think it’s a little indulgent to go the other way … but I do, just because it pleases me.

I think the lexicon is extraordinary. And sometimes pass the salt is the  simplest thing you can say if you would like someone to ‘pass you the salt’ but it’s also fun to ask them to ‘slide the white crystals in your general direction with all due speed.'”

(Laughter ensues.)

He also mentions before this about how a lot of his loves for usage and the development of his vocabulary came from reading a lot of plays when he was younger.

Mike is hilarious and brilliant. He has a new fan.


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