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Vocabulary

While I was studying journalism, my professor often told me always keep your text plain and simple as news is always for the lay man.

The expansion of the British Empire in the 19th century and the rise of United States in the 20th century made English the working language of the world. Its use has grown phenomenally in the last two decades especially in rapidly developing countries. For example, it is estimated that China has more English speakers than any other country in the world. As a result, the English language continues to evolve and adapt around the world. New words are continually added to our vocabulary and people in different countries will use English words in their own cultural context.

The English language also tends to mirror the realities of time and as the world evolves new words make their way into everyday use. For example, due to recession, people have less money to spend on luxury purchases such as holidays. So, when they have some time off work, some people are staying at home and ‘staycation’ has been developed from the combination of two words – stay and vacation.


Although frequently used, when it comes to formal communication not everybody will be aware of a new words meaning and it can take some time before they are accepted as part of everyday language. However, in March 2013, 614 new words were added to the Oxford English Dictionary, and thanks to the internet, new words now come into currency much more quickly.

Whilst writing for the media, it is important to use simple and appropriate vocabulary: words which are commonly used and understood by everyone, yet at the same time are strong enough to convey the message. Using difficult words when a simple word will suffice just for the sake of it might result in the message being misunderstood. Using strong vocabulary might be great for academic writing but in the media it can be just regarded as a boring – in other words it might not be appreciated, if that is right word!

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