I saw an article today discussing the above topic. It made for mildy interesting – albeit ultimately inconclusive and unconvincing – reading, but then I stumbled across this truism way down in the readers’ comments, which made me laugh:
The day I can casually employ polysyllabic words in ordinary conversation without someone saying, “Ooh! ‘Polysyllabic’? That’s a big word!”, will be the day I believe that education standards have risen. Don’t you think so, innit?
If you care, the article is here. Safe.