Wednesday, July 8, 2009

For The Love Of Words

I would love to have an Oxford Dictionary vocabulary. If I could just absorb all the words and definitions on those pages surely my writing and speaking skills would be such that people would be in awe of me. Or maybe they'd just look at me and wonder what language I was speaking half of the time, sort of like I do when my husband speaks to me. Oh, just kidding WB. I greatly admire your knowledge of words and their origins.

Seriously though, words can be fascinating. One word has the ability to describe or evoke emotions better than five words put together. It's finding that one word that can be tricky. I've been on a quest for expanding my vocabulary. Not just to know a new word, but to be able to use them correctly, spell them, and understand their history. For instance in yesterday's post I told you about the banister we had made for our stairs. Several of you commented on it, thank you, but you spelled banister with two n's...bannister. I was in a frenzy. Did I spell the word wrong in my post? Why didn't spell check catch it? I am relieved to know that banister and bannister are both correct spellings of the word. Disaster diverted.

My father-in-law, Big Daddy or Dr. Dad as I like to call him, sends us e-mails each day about words. He subscribes to wordsmiths and graciously passes them on to us. My husband and I share this particular e-mail address so I know it was really intended for his son. And if the truth be told I ignored the first fifty word a day e-mails. Then one day, for kicks, I decided to read one. It is very interesting. For example the word portmanteau means: A word coined by blending two or more parts or A case opening in two parts, used to carry clothes while traveling.
It goes on to tell you it comes from the french word porter (to carry) and manteau(mantel). Then it might give you some history. Originally a portmanteau was a court official who carried the robes of the king.

Interesting stuff. I must admit it is hard for me to remember all these words, but even if just one or two stick I find myself enjoying my new word. WB and Big Daddy on the other hand can remember them all and then have in depth discussions about them. I probably won't ever do that, but that is okay. I'm happy with a little bit of new knowledge each day.

Do you do anything to expand your vocabulary? Do you have a favorite word with an interesting origin or history? Please share, I need help!


Janna Qualman said...

Just reading, and being around the written word, on a daily basis has hugely affected my vocabulary. And I do keep a dictionary/thesaurus nearby (online, too). ;)

Eileen Astels Watson said...

I used to do vocabulary Friday on my blog and introduce a new word I had recently become acquainted with. I should restart that. Thanks for the reminder.

BTW: My vocabulary is too limited. I really need to beef it up.

Jody Hedlund said...

I agree with Janna. Often the best way to increase our vocab is by reading good literature, especially the classics. It's too hard for most of us to remember words from a vocab list. I think it helps to ingrain them in our minds when we can use them in context.

Terri Tiffany said...

I admit to an awful vocabulary but I can never remember a new word unless I use it all the time. Or force myself to do that.
So the best thing I can do is read and then I seem to grab hold of a word if it is in a passage that captures me.

Kara said...

Janna, Jody, and Terri you are right when reading new words in context it is so much easier to remember. And more fun usually:)

Eileen, Friday vocab on your blog is a neat idea. I would love to see what words you post about!

Pat's Place said...

Big Daddy just read this post over my shoulder and hooted and hooted! He did gasp, "She ignored the FIRST FIFTY!" But he was pleased as punch!

Kara said...

Pat, I know. I was afraid to admit I ignored some of those e-mails in case he read this. But they have all been saved so I can browse at my hearts content:)