V is for Vocabulary

I have Jemi and Marcy to thank for this post. Jemi directed me to the blog where I found this post the other day (you must read it!).   Marcy wrote on linguistics on Saturday, which I found fascinating as well.

So, vocabulary. Right up there with diagramming sentences in English class, right? (Well, okay, I liked diagramming sentences, but I’m a grammar nerd).

I can’t decide which way to go with this so it is going to be a completely random post. I find the concept of developing vocabulary fascinating, especially the process I’ve watched over the past 3 1/2 years as my son grew from saying, “Bye!” (his first word, which was bothersome to me at the time because I felt I spent way too much time saying it to him while working “full-time”) to “I want tea!” (his first sentence, requesting the amazing sweet tea from McAlister’s Deli) to telling me today while helping carry groceries that he is strong and has 40 muscles.  Then when I said he has more than 40 muscles,  he decided to look up how many muscles he has on his “imaginary computer” at bigmuscles.com (he came up with that URL, and, yes,  he won’t be let near the computer without supervision anytime soon… there’s no telling what he’d get into!  Also, does the fact he knows that websites end with dot com mean that I spend way too much time on the internet?  In case you are interested, bigmuscles.com is available for purchase and there are between 640 and 850 muscles in the human body, depending on who you ask).  Anyway… the whole process of watching children learn to speak is just fascinating to me.  I’ve never learned a foreign language by immersion but I would assume it is a similar experience.  And then kids come out with the most amazing things to say and ways to use language.  I think perhaps part of being a good writer is going back to the fascination kids have with words and putting phrases together and inventing new ways to see things.

I also find my lack of vocabulary frustrating at times. I overuse words and use lame adjectives and say extremely and actually too often. Then again, I don’t want to sound like a walking dictionary either. (My sisters accuse me of this when we play Boggle… and that is only when I pull out words such as lam. I don’t even attempt words such as qua when playing with them! Also, I must admit I learned the word “qua” playing Facebook’s version of Scrabble and have never used it in a sentence)  I know that even published authors overuse words and phrases at times (I am always struck by JK Rowling’s overuse of the world ‘forcibly’ when reading through Harry Potter books… and, yes, I do overuse the phrase ‘struck by’).  It is  something I am working on changing.

I also thought I’d do the opposite of Talli’s blog post (linked above) and list some of my favorite English words.  I haven’t spent much time thinking of them (I actually thought of doing this in the middle of the night last night).. but here are a few!

  • Periwinkle (and many other colors: cornflower, aquamarine, goldenrod… basically I think some of the Crayola color-namers are geniuses)
  • Onomatopoeia (I can’t spell it, but it is a great word!)
  • Fledgling
  • Scintillating
  • Cuddle (and also the synonyms of nestle and snuggle, which I found when I looked up cuddle… they just all sound warm and… snuggly.  Now I’m wondering about Nestle chocolates and the word nestle though… is the name supposed to make customers envision sitting in front of a fire drinking cocoa or is there a different meaning?)
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11 responses to this post.

  1. Hi there! I’m fascinated by vocabulary too. I love playing with words, and creating ridiculous sentences. If you have time stop by my blog, check out my side bar – you have to scroll down a little – I have a list of words and definitions I made up. I think you’ll enjoy them. 🙂

    Reply

  2. We all have words we overuse. I have tried to eliminate the really big words when writing though, especially ones that are only found in crossword puzzles.

    Reply

  3. word nerd. You are my long lost sister…and I love that Andrew came up with his own bigmuscles.com that is def. one to write down!

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  4. The things kids say! My oldest daughter says “No certain reason” I find it so funny that she says it. It’s more the way she says it that I find funny. As in: “Mommy, Roxanne hit me for no certain reason!” I too wish I had a more varried vocabulary. I think I’m just going to have to go back to school.

    Reply

  5. Glad I could help 🙂 Talli’s got a great site.

    I love words! Discombobulate is one of my faves – along with ‘pumpernickel pudding’, ‘crumble bumble’ and similar silly words and phrases 🙂

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  6. Kids that age are so much fun; The things they come up with! I agree a bigger vocabulary would be great; I think we all can get into a rut with words, food and clothes. We need to branch out and try new things, like we did with the A-Z blogging, try a new word on for size!

    Fun post~

    Reply

  7. You are a woman after my own heart with this vocabulary post! I don’t know how I didn’t think of it, well…yes I do, I’m about to have a baby any time, my mind is elsewhere, LOL!

    I love words too and hate that my husband still beats me at Boggle. I know so many more words than he does, it’s just not fair!

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  8. Vocabulary was such a good V!!! That one never crossed my mind! It makes sense though since my vocabulary doesn’t have a very wide range. It’s something I’m currently working on. For my novel I do more telling than I do showing, my descriptions are rather weak and often use wrong wording, luckily enough I have a crit group who helps me, and a english major who can help me with the rest!

    I would love to be a Vocab nut, and I’m sure that comes with practice!

    Reply

  9. Back when the A to Z blog challenge was at “I” I wrote a post on I is for Ignominy because I was reading Nathanial Hawthorne’s “The Scarlet Letter” and he used that word (plus ignominious) way too much. I plan to never use the word in conversation, but at least I now know what it means.

    One of the fun ways to expand your vocabulary is to read one of Elizabeth George’s novels and look up every new word she uses. Yes, it’s a bit distracting and pulls you out of the story, but her novels are so good, you’ll forgive her.

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  10. I guess that’s why I love the thesaurus… because when I get stuck on a word- I can look it up… 😀 Vocabulary has always been fun for me. For my husband- not so much because he struggles with spelling… interesting post! It was fun to read! 😀

    Reply

    • I know a lot of words… I just don’t use as many as I understand. I know that is true for everyone! I’m a thesaurus fan as well. 🙂

      Reply

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