Posts Tagged ‘Vocabulary’

“On Letter Writing”

Posted: August 22, 2015 in Articles
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Yesterday I was reading a hilarious excerpt about writing letters, or epistles, as they were called at the time of writing.  The excerpt was taken from Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine in 1822.

In the excerpt, the author describes his intense hatred for writing long, formal letters to people like unfamiliar aunts or uncles.

I was laughing out loud as I read the excerpt; the writing is so funny. And I noticed once again, how well people wrote once upon a time.

While the choice of words is impeccable, and while back then it was considered good writing, I believe that today, this excerpt would be used to exemplify poor writing. The sentences are unusually long with many clauses and sometimes no commas or breaks of any kind for lines at a time. I found one sentence that was the entire paragraph!

I like it anyway. It’s very entertaining! This was one of my favorite sentences:

“As Moore says, ‘Heart speaks to heart’ – I say, then, take always special care to write by candlelight, for not only is the apparently unimportant operation of snuffing the candle in itself a momentary relief to the depressing consciousness of mental vacuum, but not unfrequently that trifling act, or the brightening flame of the taper, elicits, as it were, from the dull embers of fancy, a sympathetic spark of fortunate conception.”

I also learned several new words:

scribblerinas (that’s not even a word)

and wondered at some witty phrases such as:

“…invidious remark and carping criticism…”
“For my part, I would rather be set to beat hemp, or weed in a turnip field, than to write a letter…”
“I’d rather be a kitten, and cry mew…”

I love reading older books. If you know of any good old books, feel free to let me know about them, because I will certainly read them!

What I Learned on July 29, 2015

Posted: July 30, 2015 in Articles

In my reading yesterday, I ran across a few words, a phrase and a location which I either did not know the meaning of, or which I found interesting. One of the books I am reading is Silas Marner by George Eliot. I have only gotten through a small portion of the book, but so far, I think I will like it. Some of the words below come from this book.

Apprize: archaic. This word is defined by Webster’s II New College Dictionary as
“Chiefly Brit. var. of APPRISE” and the definition of apprise in the same
dictionary is “to learn, to inform”

But if you Google search the word, the definition is:
“put a price upon; appraise” and “value highly; esteem”

I didn’t find this very helpful.

Benignity: the state of being benign; a kindness

Benighted: intellectually or morally ignorant; overtaken by darkness or night.

Phantasm: an apparition or specter; fantasy; a mental image or representation of a real object; an illusory likeness of something

Impracticability: Wow. Seven syllables 🙂

Efficacy:  the power to produce an effect.

“…. a frame of adamant. She begged pardon.”

People were much smarter a long time ago, weren’t they. When I read words put together like this, it makes me think and wonder more than if I read what I’ll call common language. Good writing creates a better picture in my mind and makes me think well beyond the words on the page.

Then, I was reading a passage which spoke of the Sandwich Islands and I did not know where they were. For anyone else who doesn’t know, the “Sandwich Islands” is the name that James Cook gave to the Hawaiian Islands in 1778.

Words From Oliver Twist

Posted: May 12, 2015 in Articles

These days I’m reading Oliver Twist, and there are some pretty good vocabulary words in it since it’s a relatively old book. Reading through it, I accumulated 10 words that I didn’t know pretty quickly. We thought we’d put them up, not as a quiz, but just to see if you already knew their meanings and also so that I would have some incentive to look them up 😛 These are the ones I found:

Coterie: A small group of persons who have similar interests and associate frequently.

Encomium: Warms praise; a formal expression of praise.

Culled: To pick out from others; to collect; something picked out from others, especially something rejected due to inferior quality.

Sordid: Dirty or filthy; squalid, wretched; morally degraded; exceedingly avaricious.

Multifarious: Having great variety.

Jaundice: Yellowish staining of the eyes, skin, and body fluids by bile pigment; a pathological condition in which the normal processing of bile is interrupted; prejudice or jealousy.

Postilion: One who rides the left hand lead horse to guide the horses drawing a coach.

Prerogative: An exclusive, especially hereditary or official right or privilege; any exclusive right or privilege; a natural gift or advantage making on superior; superiority, pre-eminence. Adjective: Of, stemming from, or exercising a prerogative.

Harridan: A shrewish woman.

Parochial: Of, related to, supported by, or located in a parish; narrowly restricted.

How many did you know? By the way, semi-colons indicate the beginning of new definitions. Anyway it’s good to learn new words, don’t you think?

I am reading a book called The Talisman by Sir Walter Scott. It is the story of a Scottish knight during the Crusades. It is a fairly old book, so the vocabulary in it is more challenging than that in modern books. I quickly collected ten words that I didn’t know the meaning of and here they are (see how many you know the meaning of):

Soporiferous: 1. Inducing or tending to induce sleep. 2. Drowsy
Venial: Easily excused or forgiven.
Uxorious: Excessively Submissive or devoted to one’s wife.
Obstreperous: 1. Noisily and aggressively defiant 2. Loud and unruly
Guerdon: A reward.
Cote: To go around the side of; to pass.
Tent: A small lint or gauze roll or plug placed in a wound or orifice to keep it open.
Puissance: Strength; might.
Marmoset: A small monkey of tropical American forests with soft, dense hair, tufted ears, and a long tail.
Verdure: 1. a. The fresh, vibrant greenness of flourishing vegetation. b. such vegetation itself. 2. a fresh or flourishing condition.

I really like learning the meanings of words we don’t typically use in everyday language. We think it would be fun if everyone used words like these and we usually try to incorporate fun words like these when speaking with our family and friends. It’s fun and funny.

by John

In one textbook I’m working in, they said that delectable means very delicious. That is true. However, they went on to say that you should not use it often. You should use delicious instead. We thought this was interesting because actually, if anything, we should use it more. This is because the number of words in people’s vocabulary is getting smaller and smaller. We thought that we should add words to our vocabulary, not subtract them.

The following are just some words that we learned recently, and I thought I’d share them with you. We learned that felicitations means congratulations. We also started using comestibles to mean food. Appropriate means to take without the owner’s permission. However, misappropriate means essentially the same thing. We’ve known the word reminiscent for a long time, but I just now started using it a lot.

Well anyway, we just thought that people should endeavor to expand their vocabulary and not take words away. Thanks for reading!