I read this article this morning about who has the largest vocabulary in hip hop.
The author goes through some mathematical gymastics to figure out the answer. But I come away thinking, “It doesn’t matter to me. I still like Eminem. And although he’s at the top of his game, when it comes to vocabulary, he’s solidly in the middle of the pack.”
Can the same be said of copywriters? Does having a large vocabulary make you more persuasive than one who doesn’t it?
Here the answer is a little trickier.
One, we’re told to write like you talk. In my experience, I’ve only known one copywriter who had a large vocabulary and regularly used it.
Two, we’re taught to write using words your market understands. 5th Grade reading level and all that.
Now, that would seem to indicate having a large vocabulary is not only unnecessary, it might be a disadvantage.
That is, until I remember the words of Mark Twain. “The difference between the right word and almost the right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”
Like Twain, Eugene Schwartz also advocated using word pictures.
And in order to get to the right word, I submit you must make word choices. And that means you have to know what your options are. Which means you you should have a large vocabulary to choose from.
PS: My favorite tool for expanding my vocabulary? http://urbandictionary.com Fascinating