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Joined: July 20, 2009  (email not validated)
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In a belletristic context, go for it; why not? Trust your instincts.

Some rules of thumb. It's in bad taste to use an obscure word just because you can; use obscure words only when you think their obscurity undeserved. Remember that elegance and sonorousness are qualities of a composition as a whole, not its vocabulary; you cannot season good writing into bad by sprinkling it with piquant polysyllables. As a writer what you find obvious from context will less so to your readers; avoid obscure words in the sentences and phrases your intention hinges on. In short: if you could say it out loud without sounding like you've been reading "How To Increase Your Word Power," you're probably safe.

In other contexts, it's inadvisable; certainly you shouldn't drop "ebulliate" on the readers of a technical reference.

pmr September 2, 2010, 10:28pm

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Shouldn't that be "a of English, which words of over those of and"?

Since "form" is Latin, "linguistic" and "purism" are both Latin-Greek hybrids, "favor" is French, "native" is Latin, "origin" is Latin, and "foreign" and "mainly" are French.

More seriously: very loosely speaking, English has three levels of discourse: a colloquial level using words of Saxon origin, a sophisticated or poetic level using words of French origin, and a formal level using words of Latin origin. E.g. "wrong" (Saxon), "false" (French) and "incorrect" (Latin). But there is a lot of mixing between levels and etymology should always be the last consideration in choosing the proper word for any given place.

pmr July 14, 2010, 10:25pm

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<a href="'-the-w... rel="nofollow">Will-o'-the-wisp</a>?

pmr February 4, 2010, 8:22pm

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The sense of "content" used in "online content" or "content producers" is not enumerable. But the phrase "table of contents" uses it in the older sense of "things contained", as in "the contents of his pockets," equivalent to "the things contained in his pockets." "Table of contents" = "table of things contained in this book."

pmr October 30, 2009, 7:56pm

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The short answer is that you should what your editor tells you. The long answer depends on what you are editing. If (as it seems) you are editing a scientific journal, it might be relevant that a quick search of Google Scholar returns 671 000 results for "under the conditions of," but only 73 000 for "on condition that."

pmr July 20, 2009, 8:01pm

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