Welcome from Amy D. Unsworth

Language, Literature, Learning & Life.

$10 Words?

The news some days is amusing. I've been an avid, voracious reader for a good percentage of my life, so I suppose that I take the words that comprise my vocabulary as standard English. "Thespian" and "flippant," according to the article above, qualify as "Ten Dollar" words. I'll give them credit for "sagacious" though, I haven't slipped that one in a conversation recently. And how do you get a job reading letters from prison?

I'll applaud the prisoner's efforts to give his son a large vocabulary and encourage the child to aim for college. Why should it be a surprise that he wants more for his child? Doesn't every parent? And maybe he just subscribes to The Word of the Day. It's those "big words" that teach root meanings which are so essential to understanding:
. . .an average American undergraduate is estimated to have a vocabulary of about 20,000 words. . . .One half of general words and two thirds of all academic, technical, and low-frequency words are derived from Latin, French (through Latin), or Greek, thus indicating the importance of learning the meanings of roots and affixes.

Language is so permeable and so apt to erosion that each generation really does have a "gap."Try reading books from 1950's and see how much the "normal" vocabulary has changed. Or pick up a copy of Shakespeare and see what a couple of hundred years will do. So, I'll applaud anyone who is working to keep "big words" in circulation. Don't the French have a whole administrative wing for that?

And if you learn more words, you'll experience a physical change in your brain:
For monolingual English speakers, increased vocabulary knowledge correlates with increased grey matter density in a region of the parietal cortex that is well-located to mediate an association between meaning and sound.

I like that "mediate an association between meaning and sound" line. It's an article on brain function, but there for a moment, I'm hearing a line from a conversation on poetry.

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