Discovering the Relevance of Words
“Increase your vocabulary. Say it with flowers!”
This is what it said on the side of the semi-trailer I passed on the way to work. A giant bouquet was pictured underneath the words, lest I forget what they meant by flowers. Store-bought arrangements that say things I never could, apparently. What they say is what Gary Cherone might call, ‘more than words’. Its an Extreme example, i know, (nailed it) but if I’m to believe this what this truck is telling me, flowers are guaranteed to get the point across.
And what point is that? To receive a flower delivery is to know that someone is thinking of you and, more cynically, willing to waste money on you. But will they actually increase your word power?
Spoiler alert. They will not. To really beef up your rotation of ambiguously understood words to sprinkle into everyday conversation, you’re gonna need some guidance. A series of audiotapes purchased through late-night television perhaps, or a GED program taken while in prison. Maybe you could just record and watch tons of spelling bees, writing down everything those home-schooled kids say and hoping they ask for a definition.
Unfortunately, like a word-a-day calendar received as gift from an eccentric aunt, these roads will only gain you knowledge without context. To really understand language, you need to immerse yourself in it. Have conversations with people who are smarter than you. Read books. Read a lot of books. Read books you don’t completely understand and don’t give up until you do. Get to know a word and what it means by engaging with it and using it, even before you look it up and find out exactly what it means.
Words have a feeling, and after a while a reader will begin to notice that they can learn a lot about a particular word just by using it and seeing it used. And once they feel their grasp of the language becoming more firm, they will find a joy in coming across words they don’t know yet, and courting these words slowly.
“Vocabulary’s necessary, when diggin in to my library.” -Busta Rhymes
You know what words I like? Reciprocal. And spatula.
How will you increase your vocab today? Will you say it with flowers?