I had an interesting discussion last night with my roommates about the use of jargon in writing. Sonya was reading a book for class that used a lot of philisophical jargon - things like "praxis oriented theory." She was navigating it fine, but complaining because there was some difficult language. From what Natalie labeled a marxist perspective, she argued that using big or unusual words in your writing only serves to exclude those with smaller vocabularies from reading your work. This creates a literate elite and keeps those less educated from accessing the ideas of ones writing. Sonya was advocating an extreme inclusivity - writing as simply as possible. I mostly argued in defense of big words, party because I like them, and partly to argue. I'm still thinking about it, though, today.
What does it accomplish to use unusual words and write more complicated sentences? I think it lets language push the limits of what it can do. Reminds us of the richness of shades of meaning we have access to, and exposes us to unusual words that are beautiful and fun to say. Like perspicuity! Also, using a large vocabulary and less common grammatical structures is a way to show your command of the language and your education, it's a way to gain respect and establish authority, especially when you are writing as someone who is educated in a certain area. It also demonstrates a level of respect for your audience as educated, intelligent people with access to a dictionary.
On the other hand, writing inpenetrable academic prose really just guarantees that aproximately 3 people will read your work and only because they're writing on something similar. If you have something to say, saying it in a difficult to understand manner will not help get the word out, and if your thing doesn't matter, why write it in the first place? And it does take a greater command of the subject (and of the language) to translate your thoughts into something that someone who is not an expert (or a college grad) can access.
Of course, as an educated person who talks to other educated people a lot, using big words is a fun game, or sometimes I'm not sure what language is normal and what's jargon. So how does one reconcile a love of language and perhaps too much education with a desire to write hospitably? Where is the balence between accesibility and complexity?