Tips on Word Choice No. 22: Ruled by Intellect or Emotion?

English: US President Barack Obama and British...
English: US President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron trade bottles of beer to settle a bet they made on the U.S. vs. England World Cup Soccer game (which ended in a tie), during a bilateral meeting at the G20 Summit in Toronto, Canada, Saturday, June 26, 2010. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Certain words/phrases can induce fairly specific responses in readers. As writers, we all know this, but do we use the power of emotion in our work?

For these few weeks, I’m looking at something subjective: how to choose between emotional and intellectual words for effect. You won’t always agree with me, of course; you’re writers. But, hopefully, my suggestions will get the thought processes going.

In this series I’m looking at the difference between words that seem intellectual as opposed to those that evoke a more emotional response. How you use them is obviously up to you. The point is that the alternatives have the same, or very similar, meanings, but their effect upon the reader can be markedly different. I’ve made some suggestions here, but I’m sure you can think of others.

Intellectual: Haste, Hasten

Emotional: Hurry

‘You must hasten toward a solution of the problem before the public recognise the issue for what it truly has become.’

‘If you don’t hurry up and get this sorted, even the idiots will soon know the truth.’

Intellectual: Jesting

Emotional: Kidding

‘Cameron is jesting when he suggests that we are all in this together, of course.’

‘You’re kidding: how can a millionaire ever know what it’s really like to be poor?’

Intellectual: Tidings

Emotional: News

‘We’ve received glad tidings concerning the suppression of information relating to our bankers’ bonuses.’

‘Great news that we bankers can have our great big bonuses without letting on, eh?’

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