Jan 12, 2010

Build That Vocab

The digital age has expanded and evolved communication, and the average person is now expected to textually express themselves in many different forms every single day. Most of this writing is in non-formal bits and pieces that have been whittled down to the bare essentials for the expression of an idea, with text and instant messages leading the way in acronym-laced short-hand. This makes the importance of a wide vocabulary even more pronounced- not only are there more opportunities to throw in that $5 word, but with proper use, you could really make yourself stand out from the crowd. Choosing just the right word has benefits all over the place, whether you are writing a blog, taking the SAT, applying for a job, or merely just trying to sound like you know what you’re talking about.

Without a doubt, reading is your best friend when it comes to building up your word-repertoire. And if you’re reading this blog post, odds are you have an Internet connection at your disposal, which will make finding appropriate material simple. Start with a subject you find interesting and track down articles that delve into the complex issues and opinions that surround it- the establishment of an argument or point of view is often fertile ground for challenging words.

Another great way to build your vocabulary is by studying word roots, prefixes, and suffixes. For example, let’s take the word “pseudonym”. While you may not know the exact definition, you could pull out the root word “pseudo”, which means “false”. In context, it might then be possible to deduce the definition (“Samuel Clemens wrote under the pseudonym Mark Twain as a reference to riverboat terminology.”).

In terms of speed and volume, repetitive rote memorization is often the best method for vocabulary building, but if you are looking to have a little fun while you learn, gameslike crosswords or hangman are a good choice. Word-a-Day emails are also an easy source for word-knowledge.

And of course, don’t hesitate to look up the definition to any unknown word that you come across. Usually, this is as easy as typing it into a browser search box, but don’t forget that paper and binding dictionaries are just as effective if you don’t mind spending an extra ten seconds turning pages.

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