Word Smithing and Facts

People sometimes ask what is wordsmithing. Although it has a meaning of improving the clarity without changing the substance, it has the connotation of slanting the content by choosing particular words to describe the content.

I can’t always think of a good example of this aspect, but I’ve found one in Eric Rutkow’s American Canopy (p 65). By the way, an excellent book about the economic value and the role forests have played in America’s development.

Talking of backwoodsmen or frontier hunters, Rutkow observes, “They were no longer the antisocial vagrants of Crevecoeur, but the embodiment of resourcefulness and bravery, an American original.”

Backwoodsmen or frontier hunters are neutral labels, describing the people by their lifestyle with as little taint of evaluation as possible. One wordsmith, Crevecoeur wants his readers to despise them so labels them “antisocial vagrants.” Another wordsmith, Rutkow wants the readers to think positively of them, describes them for “resourcefulness and bravery.”

Your mental image shifts depending on the wordsmiths intention.

The fact is they are still backwoodsmen or frontier hunters, but the wordsmith converts them to villains or heroes, according to their goal for reader perception.

a_craft Craft Society Style

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