Which of these sounds better to you?
- “Give me my money back!” he said loudly.
- “Give me my money back!” he shouted.
The second is surely far better. Adverbs have their place, but if you can find the right verb to express what you want to say, that is always neater and punchier.
This is one example – a very simple one – of lexical diversity, which is largely about having a good vocabulary and using it well.
“A recent academic study found that lexically diverse hedge funds outperform.”
A recent academic study suggested that lexical diversity may be more important for fund managers than you might think. The study found that “lexically diverse hedge funds” – ones with strategy descriptions that use a rich vocabulary – outperform.
This is perhaps unsurprising. A dull, predictable vocabulary seldom heralds searing intelligence – or great engagement with the task at hand.
But there’s more to it than that. The study also found that lexically diverse hedge funds eschew tail risk and encounter fewer regulatory problems. By contrast, funds with “syntactically complex strategy descriptions” are more likely to violate regulations.
“Lexical diversity […] has been associated with cognitive ability and honesty,” the study says. “Syntactic complexity […] has been linked to deceptive behaviour.”
“Syntactic complexity has been linked to deceptive behaviour.”
This chimes with our experience of teaching writing. A rich vocabulary stems from engagement and belief. Convoluted sentences happen when writers are hiding something or don’t understand it.
Good writing is important. It’s not just that bad writing gives you away. Bad writing is the canary in coal mine. It tells you that don’t know what you’re doing or what you’re doing isn’t right.