Interesting Article on Education, Claiming Vocabulary is the Key to IQ and Advancement

I don't buy the premise, but it's still interesting.

I thought this was an interesting (even if obvious, now that I read it) explanation by which vocabulary is gained unconsciously:


If vocabulary is related to achieved intelligence and to economic success, our schools need to figure out how to encourage vocabulary growth. They should understand, for starters, that word-learning occurs slowly and through a largely unconscious process. Consider the word “excrescence.” Few know the word; fewer still encounter it in their everyday lives. Maybe you do know it, but imagine that you don’t.

Now suppose I gave it to you in a sentence: “To calculate fuel efficiency, the aerospace engineers needed an accurate estimation of excrescence drag caused by the shape of the plane’s cabin.” That single exposure to the word is probably insufficient for you to grasp its meaning, though if you know something about aerospace engineering, you’ll be likelier to make a good approximation. Here’s an encounter in another context: “Excrescences on the valves of the heart have been known to cause a stroke.” Perhaps now you have a vague understanding of the word. A third meaningful encounter will allow you to check your understanding or refine your sense of the meaning: “The wart, a small excrescence on his skin, had made Jeremy self-conscious for years.” By now, you probably have a pretty solid understanding of the word, and one more encounter in a familiar context should verify your understanding: “At the far end of the meadow was what, at first glance, I thought a huge domed building, and then saw was an excrescence from the cliff itself.”

You’ve probably figured out that the word “excrescence” means “an outgrowth.” That’s an accelerated, artificial example of how word-learning occurs. The sense of a word that a listener or reader gains from multiple exposures to it isn’t a fixed and definite meaning but rather a system of meaning possibilities that get narrowed down through context on each occasion. As Miller showed, knowledge of a word is a memory residue of several meaningful encounters with the word in diverse contexts. We retain bits of those past contexts in memory as part of the word’s meaning-potential. Almost all the word meanings that we know are acquired indirectly by intuitively guessing new meanings as we get the overall gist of what we’re hearing or reading.

I would generally agree with a lot of his basic notion -- he argues, as many reformers do, that the great bulk of the educational "reforms" of the 60s and 70s were in fact monstrous disasters and that true reform can be had by returning to the pedagogies that worked.

On vocabulary, specifically, though, I'm thinking this: Is a high vocabulary an cause of a high IQ or an effect of it?

Or, let's take "IQ" out of the statement for a minute. Let's talk about reading. People who read a lot of books -- kids who read a lot of books, especially books that are a bit beyond them (that is, they're always reaching for the next level up) -- are going to accumulate vocabulary via the process Hirsch explains above.

Further, the process he explains -- which involves recalling previous instances of a word's use and then making educated guesses about its likely meaning -- is itself an aspect of intelligence, and people who are better at that will tend, overall, to just be smarter at people who aren't as good at it.

After all (echoing an argument I just saw in the comments!), intelligence, broadly defined, is recalling previous experience or example and extrapolating from them and teasing out conclusions and different, new information.

So, while the basic thrust of what he's writing about seems level-headed enough, I don't know if it's the right idea to focus on vocabulary specifically, which might just be an artifact of the real generators of intelligence, which is a desire to consume information (via reading) and an active mind that likes making educated guesses.

Incidentally, I think vocabulary maybe got a bad rap because of words like "excresence." I've been learning a bit of vocabulary lately, because the Kindle makes it very easy to look things up, and I'm finding that I divide new vocabulary into exciting words and bullshit words.

Bullshit words are words like "excresence" which in my mind are the "five-dollar words" people knock. If the word means "outgrowth," then why not say "outgrowth"? You can't even mark a victory for excresence in terms of poetry -- "outgrowth" seems more poetical than excresence.

These words are duplicative of better-known words and hence, to me, aren't all that useful. Once in a while a five-dollar word, which really says nothing more than the $0.05 variety, wins out on poetry, as with (I think) "coruscating," but a lot of these words that no one uses? There's a reason no one uses them. They add nothing and they're sort of ugly.

On the other hand, there are lots and lots of very specialized words for which there aren't any duplicative vocabulary for. That is, the word is not just a different word for a concept you already understand (as "excresence" is simply an alternate word for the already-understood concept of "outgrowth") but in fact introduces an entirely new concept or a very specific thing you weren't aware of.

Here's one I learned a couple of months ago: Velleity. (This is probably known to people who study religion, but it was a word I'd never even heard before.)

Velleity has been defined[by whom?] primarily as "the lowest degree of desire or volition, with no effort to act". Thomas Pynchon, in Gravity's Rainbow, described "[t]his connoisseuse of 'splendid weaknesses', run not by any lust or even velleity but by vacuum: by the absence of human hope".

The marketer Matt Bailey described it as "a desire to see something done, but not enough desire to make it happen".

The Times used 'velleity' in the sense of "a slight wish not followed by any effort to obtain" an outcome." Author Howard Jacobson called it "the feeblest and most unanticipated of anticipations..."

Several prominent writers, philosophers, and psychologists have discussed the usefulness of the concept of "velleity".

Bill Bryson uses velleity as a perfect example of "words [that] deserve to be better known." He argues rhetorically, "Doesn't that seem a useful term?

The minute I looked that up I realized that the concept of a "velleity" is ever-present in politics -- there are a lot of things the public says they want but, in reality, doesn't care about -- and yet I had no actual word to express this.

Well, I had ten words for it, but not a word.

Other neat words -- to me, exciting words -- are words that invoke a place or a time. Words like burnoose. The very fact that you're talking about a "burnoose" (a cloak and hood favored by medieval Arabs) puts you in a mindset you wouldn't be in with just "cloak and hood."

I got turned off to vocabulary, myself, by the SAT world-building lists. They tend to be very heavy on words like "excresence" -- duplicative vocabulary that instantly makes me think "Why not just say outgrowth?" -- and very light on the highly-particularized sort of evocative words like "burnoose."

Vocabulary lists tend to favor words like "excresence" you could, theoretically, use in everyday conversation. After all, you'll have far more opportunity to invoke the concept of "an outgrowth" than a "hood and cloak favored by medieval Arabs."

But the first word adds nothing to your picture of the world, but the latter one does.

And you kind of sound like a dick saying the first one.

When burnoose is the right word, you actually gain something as far as clarity and evocation from writing "burnoose;" but you almost never really have good cause to write "excresence." Burnoose is the right word in a tiny number of occasions; "excresence" never is. "Outgrowth" would be the correct word. Anytime you'd use "excresence," you should probably just go ahead and write "outgrowth."

The best vocabulary doesn't give you another word to say the same thing -- it gives you a word without which you couldn't express yourself properly at all. It doesn't just stick a new synonym in your head; it introduces an idea that you probably weren't even aware of.

So up with that sort of vocabulary, sure, but please save me from the "excresences."

Posted by: Ace at 06:31 PM



Comments

1 I am still laughing at Piers spanking.

Posted by: sTevo at January 25, 2013 06:33 PM (VMcEw)

2


No way.

Cave painters were more intelligent than our current administration.

A picture says a thousand words.

Posted by: beachie tgif at January 25, 2013 06:34 PM (LpQbZ)

3 Obama is an excresence on the body politic.

Posted by: model_1066 at January 25, 2013 06:34 PM (7xPCu)

4 Is this movie out on blue ray yet?

Posted by: RondinellaMamma at January 25, 2013 06:36 PM (53riN)

5 I say "umm" and "uhhh" and I'm brilliant. Oprah said so.

Posted by: Barry Soetoro at January 25, 2013 06:36 PM (Cm5S0)

6 I wiped off a little excresence with Obama's burnoose.

Posted by: model_1066 at January 25, 2013 06:36 PM (7xPCu)

7 I think High IQ is over-rated. All the uber-smart people I know of want to grab my guns.

Posted by: sTevo at January 25, 2013 06:36 PM (VMcEw)

8 Looks like this is going to be an interesting Friday.

First dogs, now vocabulary and IQ.


Guess ace scored some "stuff" for Friday night?

Posted by: Billy Bob, Pseudo Intellectual at January 25, 2013 06:36 PM (wR+pz)

9
Are you talking about Piers' excrescence again?


Posted by: Bertram Cabot Jr. at January 25, 2013 06:37 PM (wUD5d)

10 7 Stevo,

Corky Thatcher never called me "bitter clinger."

Posted by: sven10077 at January 25, 2013 06:37 PM (LRFds)

11 I have a very hi ICue but y'all no that.

Posted by: ontherocks at January 25, 2013 06:37 PM (aZ6ew)

12 ace, you're such a geek. i mean that affectionately.

Posted by: L, elle at January 25, 2013 06:38 PM (0PiQ4)

13 9
Are you talking about Piers' excrescence again?


Posted by: Bertram Cabot Jr. at January 25, 2013 06:37 PM (wUD5d)

I think you meant: Piers IS excrement.

Posted by: RondinellaMamma at January 25, 2013 06:38 PM (53riN)

14 More evidence that the 60's and 70's really screwed up a lot of things.

Posted by: SH at January 25, 2013 06:38 PM (gmeXX)

15 Industry jargon is used, in part, to purposefully exclude outsiders.

Tribal.

Posted by: 13times at January 25, 2013 06:38 PM (h6XiD)

16 I have the velleity to try and find something to smoke, but that is all.

Posted by: Injun Black Foot Barry, the one that eats dogs. at January 25, 2013 06:38 PM (wR+pz)

17 Get in the habit of looking words up. You will then use the word you looked up correctly, and correlate synonyms and antonyms at a much faster rate than if you waited to come across them.

Posted by: Blacksheep at January 25, 2013 06:38 PM (8/DeP)

18 This post is longer than feeble eyeballs on Assault Scotch can read. Anybody got cliff notes?

Posted by: Tobacco Road at January 25, 2013 06:39 PM (4Mv1T)

19 If there are two decades this country could undo, I think the 60's and 70's would be at the top of the list.

Posted by: SH at January 25, 2013 06:39 PM (gmeXX)

20 18
This post is longer than feeble eyeballs on Assault Scotch can read. Anybody got cliff notes?


Ace found some crack to smoke.

Posted by: Billy Bob, Pseudo Intellectual at January 25, 2013 06:40 PM (wR+pz)

21 I think that the answer is obvious: it is the method of accumulation of vocabulary that is correlated with IQ and one of the skills necessary for advancement.

I can take a stupid person and drill him endlessly -- and create a stupid person with a big vocabulary.

To what end? He won't be any better at synthesizing the information he gathers because of that vocabulary.


Posted by: CharlieBrown'sDildo at January 25, 2013 06:40 PM (GsoHv)

22 I graduated from Hahvad. I read. I read excessively.....er....some....er....a lot....uh....sometimes. Did I say I graduated from Hahvad?

Posted by: Soona at January 25, 2013 06:41 PM (/ZV9/)

23 I once had a close brush with excrescence.
But luckily I was able to avoid surgery.

Posted by: ontherocks at January 25, 2013 06:41 PM (aZ6ew)

24 Now suppose I gave it to you in a sentence: “To calculate fuel efficiency, the aerospace engineers needed an accurate estimation of excrescence drag caused by the shape of the plane’s cabin.”

I would be able to tell that, if you are an aerospace engineer, you are a ponce for not using the simpler term roughness drag.

Posted by: chuckR at January 25, 2013 06:41 PM (WE9pd)

25 "Hulk pulverize!" just doesn't have the right ring to it.

Posted by: eman at January 25, 2013 06:41 PM (jp2Ur)

26 I will say that I've noticed over the years that Charlie Krauthammer usually inserts at least one word that I have to look up. I finally stopped, since these words are usually so obscure and esoteric that I'd never use 'em anyway.

Posted by: Tobacco Road at January 25, 2013 06:41 PM (4Mv1T)

27 Further, the process he explains -- which involves recalling previous
instances of a word's use and then making educated guesses about its
likely meaning --



I don't know, I found reading the dictionary to be more efficient.

Posted by: alexthechick - SMOD. Take us away. at January 25, 2013 06:42 PM (Gk3SS)

28 26 Tobacco Road,

I was sort of confused by "serious"

Posted by: sven10077 at January 25, 2013 06:42 PM (LRFds)

29 Mi vocabulario es muy grande!
Pero yo trabajo en un inodoro. Que lastima!

Posted by: Manuel Labor at January 25, 2013 06:42 PM (wAQA5)

30
I always used 'big words' with my kids...and didn't talk down to them.
I didn't even realize that I was doing it.
Just never did learn 'baby talk'.
This resulted in them having a greater understanding of things, at an earlier age than their friends.

"Wow. Does your mom always talk like that?"....I once overheard a little friend say.
My daughter said...."Yes. Your's doesn't?"

Posted by: wheatie at January 25, 2013 06:43 PM (fH4X9)

31 I purchase it. :-P

Posted by: Mirror-Universe Mitt Romney at January 25, 2013 06:43 PM (CHnHn)

32 If there are two decades this country could undo, I think the 60's and 70's would be at the top of the list.
Posted by: SH at January 25, 2013 06:39 PM (gmeXX)


------------------------------------------


I agree. Well, except for the braless look. And the sex. Okay, you can take the rest.

Posted by: Soona at January 25, 2013 06:43 PM (/ZV9/)

33 Learning Latin helps also

Posted by: L, elle at January 25, 2013 06:43 PM (0PiQ4)

34 "Recrudescence." Just ran into that one today.

Cause or effect? You need to do an experiment, where you have children developing under different educational regimes, one traditional and one "progressive". Of course, we already do have that, between public education and home school or private school. Which produces higher IQ?

Posted by: Socratease at January 25, 2013 06:44 PM (3V4IJ)

35 27 AlexTheChick,

Yup, exncyclopedia too. My big regret as a parent is not stressing the lad to read the dictionary, thesaurus, and encyclopedia like I was told to. It forces a memory construct on data early which increases test speed.

Grandma, smarter than Billy fucking Ayers, and made better pies.

Posted by: sven10077 at January 25, 2013 06:44 PM (LRFds)

36 Slow news day today. /s

Posted by: Y-not #MarchForLife at January 25, 2013 06:44 PM (5H6zj)

37
Hulk pulverize!" just doesn't have the right ring to it.


Agreed.

Posted by: Sheldon Cooper at January 25, 2013 06:44 PM (0WLla)

38 Y-not

Good numbers? Hope so.

Posted by: L, elle at January 25, 2013 06:45 PM (0PiQ4)

39 34 socratease,

Heh, quite.

Look at a 1905 Harvard entrance exam versus the modern test.

Posted by: sven10077 at January 25, 2013 06:45 PM (LRFds)

40 >>>I think the 60's and 70's would be at the top of the list.

For hip hugger jeans and halter tops? I'll put up with the rest.

Posted by: Tobacco Road at January 25, 2013 06:46 PM (4Mv1T)

41 Ban high-capacity assault dictionaries!

Posted by: t-bird at January 25, 2013 06:46 PM (FcR7P)

42 Actually, excrescence is a pretty obvious word if you understand the principles of (Neo)Latin morphology and know the word "crest."

There are plenty of Latin(ate) words which are better than their Teutonic (Saxon to you) equivalents which are perceived as queer because they seem like the sort of words only a homo would use (in large part because only homos tend to use them.)

Posted by: Mirror-Universe Mitt Romney at January 25, 2013 06:46 PM (CHnHn)

43 Btw, the purging of Latin/French from the institutions of higher learning has resulted in a profoundly retarded elite.

Posted by: Mirror-Universe Mitt Romney at January 25, 2013 06:47 PM (CHnHn)

44 Here's a word / phrase I've run into here and there, and never bothered to look up: "soi-disant". Apparently it means "self-proclaimed". Maybe I'd have got that decades earlier if I'd actually paid attention in French class.

It's a great term though, especially because it's French.

Add that to bien-pensant.


[Ace here, in UR comment because I can't comment: This reminds me. You know when you here "pretender to the English throne"?

I always thought that meant, well, a *pretender,* a fake.

It doesn't. It doesn't have that derogatory meaning. It means, more neutrally, "claimant."

The reason is is that it's from French. Pretendre in french is to claim -- and NOT to pretend. Thus, a "pretender" (using the French) is a claimant, but isn't necessarily a false one or a faked-up one or the like.

Posted by: Earl Gaveston of Cornhole at January 25, 2013 06:47 PM (p39hN)

45 Loves me some"excresences."

Posted by: Sandra Fluke at January 25, 2013 06:47 PM (wAQA5)

46 This exciting theory makes me cromulescent.

Posted by: Cicero, Semiautomatic Assault Commenter at January 25, 2013 06:47 PM (QKKT0)

47 Wifey and I play the dictionary game sometimes when we have company. We take turns looking up obscure words and then make up definitions. If you hate laughing, you don't ever want to play this one.

Posted by: sTevo at January 25, 2013 06:48 PM (VMcEw)

48 I'm *very* tempted to keep this sock on for this thread.

Posted by: Earl Gaveston of Cornhole at January 25, 2013 06:48 PM (p39hN)

49 When English societies more confidently dominated the world, the ruling classes were familiar with at least one of Latin, French, and Greek.


But we've Progressed beyond that...

Posted by: Mirror-Universe Mitt Romney at January 25, 2013 06:48 PM (CHnHn)

50 The larger your vocabulary is , the greater your ability is to bullshit your way through written and spoken communications and make people think you actually know what you're talking about.

Posted by: djm1992 at January 25, 2013 06:48 PM (1o4B5)

51 Darn you ace, for teaching me the wrong spelling of the word!


Interestingly, looking up the definition, your complaint about it being less poetic is appropriate.

Excrescence - "An unattractive or superfluous addition or feature."

It is an ugly looking word to describe an ugly looking thing.

Posted by: ConservativeMonster at January 25, 2013 06:49 PM (xGZ+b)

52 There are still some very highly competitive colleges that like high school kids who have taken Latin. LOTS of Latin.

Posted by: Tobacco Road at January 25, 2013 06:49 PM (4Mv1T)

53 There are plenty of Latin(ate) words which are better than their Teutonic (Saxon to you) equivalents which are perceived as queer because they seem like the sort of words only a homo would use (in large part because only homos tend to use them.)
Posted by: Mirror-Universe Mitt Romney at January 25, 2013 06:46 PM (CHnHn)


-----------------------------------------------


It's a ruse. Homos don't use big words. They make up big words.

Posted by: Soona at January 25, 2013 06:49 PM (/ZV9/)

54 Electronic books link to a dictionary. An unfamiliar word can easily be defined on the go.

This trend will expand with semi-smart AIs helping people as they do all sorts of tasks.

IQ my take on a new measure: how well do you work with your AI?

Posted by: eman at January 25, 2013 06:50 PM (jp2Ur)

55 The only purpose in learning the superfluous $5 words is so that you can laugh when some idiot uses the word improperly, and you just know he spent five minutes thumbing through his thesaurus looking for a synonym to "outgrowth."

I use legitimate fancy pants words all the time for my job (evil litigator), but do so only because the words are more precisely accurate, or are more efficient and help me stay within page limits.

Posted by: wooga at January 25, 2013 06:50 PM (q4KYY)

56 I don't buy the premise, but it's still interesting cromulent.

Posted by: @PurpAv at January 25, 2013 06:51 PM (GlnE7)

57 Georgia Senate primary update: Flava Cain out!

Ole Spermin' Herman said he won't repeat his 2004 Senate run but will instead focus on his radio show.

Posted by: Herbert Hymenhopper at January 25, 2013 06:51 PM (LSTjp)

58 A significant difficulty encountered during the discussion of any thesis such as the aforementioned is that the matter under review is the English language. You know, English. The language that hauls other languages into a dark alley, mugs them and then steals words out of their pockets.



Posted by: alexthechick - SMOD. Take us away. at January 25, 2013 06:51 PM (Gk3SS)

59 I dunno, 'excresence' has a yucky sound to it and is awfully similar to excrement; so to use it to describe a wart is more descriptive of its undesirability to have one.

Calling it an outgrowth seems value neutral when it isn't at all. It's bad.

I totally agree that heavy reading expands vocabulary. One of the gifts I helped give to my children was the desire to read. It doesn't matter what they read nearly as much as just doing it.

Posted by: GnuBreed at January 25, 2013 06:51 PM (ccXZP)

60 "53 There are plenty of Latin(ate) words which are better than their Teutonic (Saxon to you) equivalents which are perceived as queer because they seem like the sort of words only a homo would use (in large part because only homos tend to use them.)
Posted by: Mirror-Universe Mitt Romney at January 25, 2013 06:46 PM (CHnHn)


-----------------------------------------------


It's a ruse. Homos don't use big words. They make up big words.

Posted by: Soona at January 25, 2013 06:49 PM (/ZV9/) "

True enough. Racist, sexist, and especially homophobe are extremely-artificial words.

Posted by: Mirror-Universe Mitt Romney at January 25, 2013 06:51 PM (CHnHn)

61 >>>I've been learning a bit of vocabulary lately

Shibboleth anyone?

Posted by: MikeTheMoose Offering Moobats Gasoline and Matches at January 25, 2013 06:53 PM (0q2P7)

62 Ace, I skimmed the article, and I'm not certain that I entirely buy his premise, that it is vocabulary. But I do buy the premise that by "dumbing down" education to make it "easider" that lessened the student standards.

Maybe it is vocabulary, but maybe there are other factors at play. Three people could read the same number of words, one by reading the Brothers Karamozov, oneby reading 10 Hemingway novels, and one by reading 100 sports illustrated.

The last one would probably be the most well versed in conversational topics and would probably remember some useful facts and stories. But I suspect the first one would actually become "smarter" if I use that term to simply mean to improve his mental faculties. Is that because the vocabulary is greater in the Brothers Karamozov, or is it the sentence structure, or is it the fact that to read a book like that requires a certain discipline.

Posted by: SH at January 25, 2013 06:53 PM (gmeXX)

63 Having vast intelligence usually means possessing a vast vocabulary. I do not believe it goes the other way.

Posted by: Big T Party at January 25, 2013 06:54 PM (WiQr+)

64 Ace, your own vocabulary has sent me to the dictionary more than once, but the comments have sent me to the urban
dictionary every other day. The urban dictionary definitions, I usually regret reading. you guys are all perverts!

Posted by: L, elle at January 25, 2013 06:54 PM (0PiQ4)

65 Sorta like when Morons head to the bunk. To, you know...

EXACERBATE

Posted by: Tobacco Road at January 25, 2013 06:54 PM (4Mv1T)

66 Sometimes I prefer Urban definitions over Websters.

Posted by: sTevo at January 25, 2013 06:54 PM (VMcEw)

67 Excrescence
A distinct outgrowth on a human or animal body or on a plant, esp. one that is the result of disease or abnormality.

Stop it you're making me hot.

Posted by: Sandra Fluke at January 25, 2013 06:54 PM (wAQA5)

68 >>>I've been learning a bit of vocabulary lately

Shibboleth anyone?

Posted by: MikeTheMoose Offering Moobats Gasoline and Matches at January 25, 2013 06:53 PM (0q2P7)



Word witch! Burn her!

Posted by: ConservativeMonster at January 25, 2013 06:55 PM (xGZ+b)

69 which are perceived as queer because they seem like the sort of words only a homo would use

Well, don't want to sound like a dick or nothin', but, ah... it says on your chart that you're fucked up. Ah, you talk like a fag, and your shit's all retarded

Posted by: Idiocracy Doctor at January 25, 2013 06:55 PM (q4KYY)

70 The JEF has a substandard vocabulary so yeah, I agree with the article.

Posted by: Captain Hate at January 25, 2013 06:55 PM (R4Bz0)

71 Ace - with all the Palin discussion today, how did you let Allah scoop you. She is parting with Fox.

Posted by: SH at January 25, 2013 06:55 PM (gmeXX)

72 >>>The urban dictionary definitions, I usually regret reading.

That's what you get for breaking rule 1

Posted by: MikeTheMoose Offering Moobats Gasoline and Matches at January 25, 2013 06:55 PM (0q2P7)

73 The point, I think, is that if you never expose kids to literature or speech that contains words above their level, they will never have a CHANCE to develop the kind of thinking skills that allow you to figure out what "excrescence" means.

Schools today gear required readings to a predetermined grade level. You are not allowed to assign material with more than a few words above that. Accordingly, kids are not challenged to expand their thinking patterns.

To compensate for the dumbed-down readings, and in hopes that the kids won't look too stupid on SATs, they shovel lists of words to learn by rote. The kids will actually learn some of them, to be sure, but not as many as they did the old way. More to the point, they won't learn HOW to learn.

Posted by: Margarita DeVille at January 25, 2013 06:55 PM (C8mVl)

74
As someone who has taken multiple IQ tests I think these folks need to go back to the drawing board. From my past it seems there are a couple main types of IQ tests, those ones that use a lot of vocabulary words and ask relational questions based on those wordsand those that are heavy in logic. I have tended to score in the low 180s on the latter and the low 160s on the former. My vocabulary is relatively weak and the IQ tests that are heavy in the fancy words and lighter in the actual thinking process tend to frustrate me a bit, though I can usually wade through knowing some word root history.
The idea that good vocabulary can increase IQ scores must solely be based on using what I would consider to be theweak IQ tests that seem to measure knowledge of words more so than your ability to think. Sure, if you have a broader vocabulary base, your scores would be higher on those particular IQ tests, however, it wouldn't do you a bit of good on the other type since the knowledge of vocabulary doesn't equate to actually being smarter.
It's pretty simple, does someone who is blessed with a photographic memory automatically become very intelligent? Not at all, however, if they happen to have the intelligence to use that photographic memory, then they would have the advantage. Same thing with a broad vocabulary, it doesn't show intelligence - unless you are so inclined to find a way to prove it does.

Posted by: doug at January 25, 2013 06:56 PM (uJ8q7)

75 "58 A significant difficulty encountered during the discussion of any thesis such as the aforementioned is that the matter under review is the English language. You know, English. The language that hauls other languages into a dark alley, mugs them and then steals words out of their pockets.



Posted by: alexthechick - SMOD. Take us away. at January 25, 2013 06:51 PM (Gk3SS) "

That's mostly a misconception. English is the archetypical Western language. Literally no language is more consistently and purely Western than English, which consistently fuses the three morphemic founts of Western ontology (and vocabulary): Latin, Greek, and (Proto)Teutonic.

Posted by: Mirror-Universe Mitt Romney at January 25, 2013 06:56 PM (CHnHn)

76 A significant difficulty encountered during the discussion of any thesis such as the aforementioned is that the matter under review is the English language. You know, English. The language that hauls other languages into a dark alley, mugs them and then steals words out of their pockets.
Posted by: alexthechick - SMOD. Take us away. at January 25, 2013 06:51 PM (Gk3SS)


-------------------------------------------


Any putz can steal a word.

Posted by: Soona at January 25, 2013 06:56 PM (/ZV9/)

77 Me talk stupid? That's unpossible!

Posted by: Joe Biden at January 25, 2013 06:56 PM (wwsoB)

78 >>>Word witch! Burn her!

Whoa! If I'm going to be burned for witchcraft I demand that my accuser get my gender correct.

Posted by: MikeTheMoose Offering Moobats Gasoline and Matches at January 25, 2013 06:56 PM (0q2P7)

79 Aha! This proves my point that I said on another thread: wordsmiths use those things they prefer (words) to describe intelligence. And since wordsmiths are currently in charge of the political discussion, we are now told that VOCABULARY is the measure of intelligence.

So, how about Mr. Hirsch takes his vocabulary and tries to solve an algebra problem with it, or build a bridge, or send a rocket to the moon?

Vocabulary is more closely aligned with what Ace spoke about, that it is most often the hallmark of those who read complex books and publications and pick up new words that way. It is a result of intelligence in verbal skills, but is not the measure of intelligence as a whole.

And of course, it is useful for advancement in those areas where speech and written skills are valued and measured by others with such skills.

Posted by: Miss Marple at January 25, 2013 06:57 PM (GoIUi)

80 >>you guys are all perverts!
Posted by: L, elle at January 25, 2013 06:54 PM (0PiQ4)



..........and your point beeeeeiinnng?

Posted by: ontherocks at January 25, 2013 06:57 PM (aZ6ew)

81
While 'Hooked on Phonics' is often a useful in helping kids learn to read....
It's a shame that it isn't combined with some 'word origin' at the same time.

Learning word origins is helpful in not only understanding the meaning of the word you are learning...but it also helps in understanding other new words, afterward.

Posted by: wheatie at January 25, 2013 06:57 PM (fH4X9)

82 After all (echoing an argument I just saw in the comments!), intelligence, broadly defined, is recalling previous experience or example and extrapolating from them and teasing out conclusions and different, new information.

I see intelligence as 'pattern recognition' -- whether it be a series of letters which form words and thoughts, or a series of vowels, or an algebraic equation, or a pattern of symbols which advice you to hit the brakes and not the accelerator. Anything -- whether it is reading, writing, or arithmetic, which forces the individual to better their grasp at the symbols will increase intelligence. Also, sitting next to someone who has a better grasp at the concept and who you might be able to ask a quick question from -- aka 'proximal zone of development' might just make you smarter -- as opposed to sitting next to someone who has no business being next to you in the same classroom and doesn't even speak the same language. Which, because I believe in the concept of PZD, makes it inherently racist -- or something. So it will never go anywhere, nor will our country.

Posted by: Regular Moron at January 25, 2013 06:58 PM (feFL6)

83 And here I was thinking I was the only kid in the world who sat on the floor in the living room and read the encyclopedia. I did it because I enjoyed it. Little did I know it meant I was some kind of genius.heh Hey pull my finger.

Posted by: weirdflunky at January 25, 2013 06:58 PM (tlhtD)

84 I'm probably wrong (I usually am) but I think of "IQ" in the same way that I think of markings on a measuring cup. A four cup measuring cup is going to have a larger number of ounces printed on the side than a one-cup cup, but it doesn't say anything about the actual content. The one-cup may be full of liquid while the four-cup is almost totally empty.

I guess what I mean is that I think IQ measures potential intelligence, rather than actual intelligence. And it has little to do with knowledge.

That's one of the things that drives people crazy about the movie "Deep Blue Sea." The sharks who were engineered to be more intelligent suddenly had knowledge that they could not possibly have (ie, they know what the security cameras are and that destroying them will give them an advantage).

Sorry I rambled all over this--I don't have a high IQ after all.

Posted by: BeckoningChasm at January 25, 2013 06:58 PM (xjpRj)

85 Whoa! If I'm going to be burned for witchcraft I demand that my accuser get my gender correct.

Posted by: MikeTheMoose Offering Moobats Gasoline and Matches at January 25, 2013 06:56 PM (0q2P7)



A witch is a woman! Of course you burn her!

Posted by: ConservativeMonster at January 25, 2013 06:58 PM (xGZ+b)

86 70 The JEF has a substandard vocabulary so yeah, I agree with the article.
Posted by: Captain Hate at January 25, 2013 06:55 PM (R4Bz0)

Unfortunately, a substandard electorate put His Holy Excrescense there.

Posted by: model_1066 at January 25, 2013 06:59 PM (7xPCu)

87
Parents who have a large vocabulary and actually spend time talking with their children will have children with large vocabularies. The kids who only hear "Shut the effing up, kid!" will never have a decent vocabulary no matter what is taught in school. It all starts and ends in the home.

Posted by: rusticbroad at January 25, 2013 06:59 PM (FjF3P)

88 Herman 'Flava' Cain do speak the Ebonic!

Posted by: Herbert Hymenhopper at January 25, 2013 06:59 PM (LSTjp)

89 "64 Ace, your own vocabulary has sent me to the dictionary more than once, but the comments have sent me to the urban
dictionary every other day. The urban dictionary definitions, I usually regret reading. you guys are all perverts!

Posted by: L, elle at January 25, 2013 06:54 PM (0PiQ4) "

Well, that's hard-ly true. Might I suggest that you reverse your position at once? :-P

Posted by: Mirror-Universe Mitt Romney at January 25, 2013 06:59 PM (CHnHn)

90 43 ---" Btw, the purging of Latin/French from the institutions of higher learning has resulted in a profoundly retarded elite."
Posted by: Mirror-Universe Mitt Romney at January 25, 2013 06:47 PM

AMEN. Preach it, brother!

Posted by: Margarita DeVille at January 25, 2013 06:59 PM (C8mVl)

91 [Ace here, in UR comment because I can't comment:

Now that's funny.


[ace in UR comment: Word.]

Posted by: Waterhouse at January 25, 2013 06:59 PM (Vannl)

92 If a fancy word or two gets you a job or laid, it's worth the effort.

Posted by: eman at January 25, 2013 07:00 PM (jp2Ur)

93 "69 which are perceived as queer because they seem like the sort of words only a homo would use

Well, don't want to sound like a dick or nothin', but, ah... it says on your chart that you're fucked up. Ah, you talk like a fag, and your shit's all retarded

Posted by: Idiocracy Doctor at January 25, 2013 06:55 PM (q4KYY) "

:-)

Posted by: Mirror-Universe Mitt Romney at January 25, 2013 07:00 PM (CHnHn)

94 Obama is the master of the pleonasm.

Posted by: Opus An Arcus at January 25, 2013 07:00 PM (S8Kpn)

95 Its Friday night for God's sake people!! For an opposing point of view, I give you Eliza Doolittle:


Its Words! Words! Words! I'm so sick of words! I get words all day through;First from him, now from you! Is that all you blighters can do? Don't talk of stars Burning above; If you're in love, Show me! Tell me no dreams Filled with desire. If you're on fire, Show me! Here we are together in the middle of the night! Don't talk of spring! Just hold me tight! Anyone who's ever been in love'll tell you that This is no time for a chat! Haven't your lips Longed for my touch? Don't say how much, Show me! Show me! Don't talk of love lasting through time. Make me no undying vow. Show me now! Sing me no song! Read me no rhyme!Don't waste my time, Show me! Don't talk of June, Don't talk of fall! Don't talk at all! Show me! Never do I ever want to hear another word. There isn't one I haven't heard. Here we are together in what ought to be a dream; Say one more word and I'll scream! Haven't your arms Hungered for mine? Please don't "expl'ine," Show me! Show me! Don't wait until wrinkles and lines Pop out all over my brow, Show me now!

Posted by: thunderb at January 25, 2013 07:00 PM (Dnbau)

96 In another life, Mae West once said to me, "is that an excrescence in your pants, or are you just happy to see me?"

She refined it for posterity.

Posted by: Fritz at January 25, 2013 07:00 PM (WM+rJ)

97 While 'Hooked on Phonics' is often a useful in helping kids learn to read.... It's a shame that it isn't combined with some 'word origin' at the same time. Learning word origins is helpful in not only understanding the meaning of the word you are learning...but it also helps in understanding other new words, afterward.
Posted by: wheatie at January 25, 2013 06:57 PM (fH4X9)


-------------------------------------------------


Like succor. I think succubus. Then I think of the hot chick on "Lost Girls".

[Ace in UR comment: Phonics is important. I don't know about word roots. With a few exceptions, most stems (like the vocate in advocate) aren't used in many other words, and the suffixes -- ad, ex, -- are frequently used very inconsistently and/or have several different meanings.

Okay, ex- and a- have consistent meanings, but ones like ad- could mean any of a dozen things. I don't think it helps kids to know ad- could mean "concerning, out of, at, on top of, into..." and the five other things it could mean.]

Posted by: Soona at January 25, 2013 07:01 PM (/ZV9/)

98
Palin is departing Fox?
I was wondering if that is what was going on...since I hadn't seen her on there in a while.

Posted by: wheatie at January 25, 2013 07:01 PM (fH4X9)

99 So it's not math or science now the problem is vocabulary or was it always vocabulary?

Posted by: phoenixgirl waiting for spring training at January 25, 2013 07:02 PM (H0fzi)

100 Vocabulize we must.

Posted by: AL Sharpton at January 25, 2013 07:02 PM (NAgdp)

101 76 A significant difficulty encountered during the discussion of any thesis such as the aforementioned is that the matter under review is the English language. You know, English. The language that hauls other languages into a dark alley, mugs them and then steals words out of their pockets.

Posted by: alexthechick - SMOD. Take us away. at January 25, 2013 06:51 PM (Gk3SS)



Please note that the above was written under the influence of wine and Cosmos.

*Hands AtC another Cosmo and a brand-new dictionary*

Posted by: I lurk, therefore I am at January 25, 2013 07:02 PM (QZRbK)

102 Jumping in without reading comments but wanted to point out one thing, vocabulary in children is also built by having parents read aloud to them daily. Recent studies have even shown that there is a huge benefit for children if their parents read aloud to them from infancy all the way through high school.

Posted by: ParanoidGirlInSeattle at January 25, 2013 07:02 PM (RZ8pf)

103 Heh, my grandmother's favorite story about me was when I was in the 3rd grade, we were walking into a store, and another girl and her mom were coming out. The girl pointed to me and said: "That's H****** W*****, he's the kid with the vocabulary." She was never quite sure what that meant.
My 2 daughter's, 11 and 14, are both blessed with great English skills. (My oldest was reading when she was 4...) They both want to learn Latin, and their (public) school has no Latin courses. Truly a dead language.

Posted by: Brave Sir Robin at January 25, 2013 07:03 PM (M0O7A)

104 One of the things that clearly delineates one with an expansive vocabulary from the rest of us, is one who can use his/her vocabulary succinctly.

Organized thoughts, expressed with a brevity of words. Not a strength of mine, but one to which I aspire.

Posted by: Tobacco Road at January 25, 2013 07:03 PM (4Mv1T)

105 Vocabulary is used to express thought to an audience. The more tools in the tool box, the more options you have. As Chris Rock said, you're limited to your options.

That said if you're indulging in sesquipedalian circumloquacious prolixity with knowledge that the audience won't understand you, you're masturbating with language.

....

Posted by: BumperStickerist at January 25, 2013 07:03 PM (RuUvx)

106 14
Talkin bout my generation.
And yes we did screw it up royally.

Posted by: Tuna at January 25, 2013 07:03 PM (M/TDA)

107 Obviate is a cool word.

Posted by: eman at January 25, 2013 07:03 PM (jp2Ur)

108 1) Did 2) you 3) see 4) the 5) hawk?

Posted by: rdbrewer at January 25, 2013 07:04 PM (Iyg03)

109 Piers Morgan doesn't have a penis....he has an excrescence.

Posted by: Dept. of Accuracy Dept. at January 25, 2013 07:04 PM (MhA4j)

110 Being intelligent doesn't require a large vocabulary. However, most folks with great intelligence have large vocabularies. This guys looking at it backwards.

Posted by: Big T Party at January 25, 2013 07:04 PM (WiQr+)

111 "85 Whoa! If I'm going to be burned for witchcraft I demand that my accuser get my gender correct.

Posted by: MikeTheMoose Offering Moobats Gasoline and Matches at January 25, 2013 06:56 PM (0q2P7)


A witch is a woman! Of course you burn her!

Posted by: ConservativeMonster at January 25, 2013 06:58 PM (xGZ+b) "

Men can be witches too. Don't be sexist.

Posted by: Mirror-Universe Mitt Romney at January 25, 2013 07:04 PM (CHnHn)

112 97...Like succor. I think succubus. Then I think of the hot chick on "Lost Girls".

You watch 'Lost Girl' too, Soona?
Haa.
It's one of my guilty pleasures.

Posted by: wheatie at January 25, 2013 07:05 PM (fH4X9)

113 >>>Latin, Greek, and (Proto)Teutonic.

That Proto Teutonic is what makes English different, which is kind of the point. Despite the huge amounts of stolen vocabulary the Germanic roots of English make it the bastard child of languages: Vocabularies stolen from across the world welded into a language structure that can be just barely considered structure; in fact so bad is it, that sentences can be kept alive almost indefinitely, clause after clause smashed together like particle board, in one huge conglomeration of thought. To compare such a "structure" to Latin/Greek makes it clear those languages only slept in the same bed with English long enough for English to lift their shiny bits and make off into the night.


Posted by: MikeTheMoose Offering Moobats Gasoline and Matches at January 25, 2013 07:05 PM (0q2P7)

114 107
Obviate is a cool word.





Posted by: eman

Agree. "My wife's chances of getting pregnant are best when she's obviating"

Posted by: Dr Spank at January 25, 2013 07:05 PM (w+Dvf)

115 Didn't we all vote to have a word-o-the-day in the morning headline thread?

Posted by: toby928© presents at January 25, 2013 07:05 PM (QupBk)

116 102 Jumping in without reading comments but wanted to point out one thing, vocabulary in children is also built by having parents read aloud to them daily. Recent studies have even shown that there is a huge benefit for children if their parents read aloud to them from infancy all the way through high school.
Posted by: ParanoidGirlInSeattle at January 25, 2013 07:02 PM (RZ8pf)

True. I have a clear memory of the first time words started making sense to me, on momma's lap, her reading "A Night Before Christmas" to me. Later on, I thought it was fun to read the dictionary and encyclopedias, so there's that.

Posted by: model_1066 at January 25, 2013 07:05 PM (7xPCu)

117 One of the things that clearly delineates one with an expansive vocabulary from the rest of us, is one who can use his/her vocabulary succinctly.Organized thoughts, expressed with a brevity of words. Not a strength of mine, but one to which I aspire.
Posted by: Tobacco Road at January 25, 2013 07:03 PM (4Mv1T)


-------------------------------------------------------


Holy shit! I think you've got it.

Posted by: Soona at January 25, 2013 07:05 PM (/ZV9/)

118 I'm pretty intelligent and know a good number of words, but please, please, please don't ask me to diagram a sentence.

Posted by: I lurk, therefore I am at January 25, 2013 07:06 PM (QZRbK)

119 I'm going out. Gonna have a cocktail. It was 76 in Houston today, later haters!

Posted by: thunderb at January 25, 2013 07:06 PM (Dnbau)

120 The childrens need to improve there mother-fuckin speecifying!

Posted by: Samuel Jackson at January 25, 2013 07:06 PM (NAgdp)

121 Men can be warlocks unless they are having a sex change then they are still warlocks but they can go in the witches bathroom

Posted by: phoenixgirl waiting for spring training at January 25, 2013 07:06 PM (H0fzi)

122 102
I started reading to my son before he could focus those baby blues. He is now a voracious reader. I pat myself on the back for that achievement .

Posted by: Tuna at January 25, 2013 07:07 PM (M/TDA)

123 103 Brave Sir Robin,

It's hard to learn Latin and not see what's coming.

actus me invito factus non est meus actus

Posted by: sven10077 at January 25, 2013 07:07 PM (LRFds)

124 I always thought the the test for intelligence was ability to problem solve.
Like how about when you run out TP at 3 AM and there's only four letter words?
Excrescence is the problem, not the solution.

Posted by: ontherocks at January 25, 2013 07:07 PM (aZ6ew)

125 "Gravitas" does it for me.

Posted by: Keifer Sutherland at January 25, 2013 07:07 PM (NAgdp)

126 Use Isthmus in a sentence.

:: Isthmus be my lucky day.

Posted by: BumperStickerist at January 25, 2013 07:07 PM (RuUvx)

127 the act done by me against my will is not my act

Posted by: sven10077 at January 25, 2013 07:07 PM (LRFds)

128 Bodacious is a cool word.

Posted by: eman at January 25, 2013 07:08 PM (jp2Ur)

129 : Pith.

_

Posted by: BumperStickerist at January 25, 2013 07:08 PM (RuUvx)

130 Later, all.

God bless. :-)

Posted by: Mirror-Universe Mitt Romney at January 25, 2013 07:08 PM (CHnHn)

131 I once fell in love with a German man because he referred to a fat coworker as "corpulent."

Posted by: kathysaysso at January 25, 2013 07:08 PM (6H6o8)

132 128 Bodacious is a cool word.

Gnarly.

Posted by: Brave Sir Robin at January 25, 2013 07:08 PM (M0O7A)

133 "IQ my take on a new measure: how well do you work with your AI?

Posted by: eman at January 25, 2013 06:50 PM (jp2Ur)"

And if you are below a certain IQ, you probably won't have any AI and you'll be SOL.

Posted by: Jugears McFuckstick giving Vayner's eulogy at January 25, 2013 07:09 PM (eP0u9)

134 People judge you by the words you use. On the moron scale, I don't have a good vocabulary. But I'm still several orders of magnitude more knowledgeable about words than an Obama voter.

So, it also has to do with the sharks you swim with.

Posted by: Truman North, now at 25% battery life at January 25, 2013 07:09 PM (MDdPT)

135 Use Isthmus in a sentence.

Merry Isthmus an Appy Ooh Ear

Posted by: Mary Matalin at January 25, 2013 07:10 PM (QKKT0)

136 Frottage.

It may be my favorite word.

Posted by: CharlieBrown'sDildo at January 25, 2013 07:10 PM (GsoHv)

137 Excrescence sounds like a word for when you really have to poop and it crowns.

Posted by: Truman North, now at 25% battery life at January 25, 2013 07:10 PM (MDdPT)

138 actus me invito factus non est meus actus
Posted by: sven10077 at January 25, 2013 07:07 PM (LRFds)


------------------------------------------


Okay, I read that as: I act really stupid when I'm drunk.











Posted by: Soona at January 25, 2013 07:11 PM (/ZV9/)

139 134
You probably know more words than the Prezzy and most certainly more tHan Mrs. Prezzy.

Posted by: Tuna at January 25, 2013 07:11 PM (M/TDA)

140
Vocabulary is more closely aligned with what Ace spoke about, that
it is most often the hallmark of those who read complex books and
publications and pick up new words that way. It is a result of
intelligence in verbal skills, but is not the measure of intelligence as
a whole.



As someone who learned Chinese as a youngster, I think there's something to the original thesis. Language affects how you can think of concepts, and I think there's something to English that makes for a much more flexible thinking system. (I noticed as a kid that I "thought in English" instead of in Chinese)

Vocabulary does not make you smart, but I think it is a necessary foundation for the development of intelligence. It's why the "Double plus ungood" stunted vocabulary from 1984 is so disturbing.

Posted by: ConservativeMonster at January 25, 2013 07:11 PM (FzhYM)

141 131
I once fell in love with a German man because he referred to a fat coworker as "corpulent."


Posted by: kathysaysso at January 25, 2013 07:08 PM (6H6o

I prefer zaftig.

Posted by: dananjcon at January 25, 2013 07:11 PM (NAgdp)

142 138 soona,

pretty close, it is about coercion and morality of action.

the act done by me against my will is not my act

Posted by: sven10077 at January 25, 2013 07:11 PM (LRFds)

143 Frottage.
It may be my favorite word.


Note to self: Do not stand next to CBD on subway.

Posted by: Blond with Huge Rack at January 25, 2013 07:12 PM (feFL6)

144 I've been fond of "muddle" lately. Maybe because it's a verb that's a prelude to cocktails.

Posted by: Brave Sir Robin at January 25, 2013 07:12 PM (M0O7A)

145
I can take a stupid person and drill him endlessly -- and create a stupid person with a big vocabulary.

To what end? He won't be any better at synthesizing the information he gathers because of that vocabulary.


The issue at stake is how much language influences one's pattern of thought, and by extention, one's ability to think. Languages differ pretty profoundly in the type of grammatical distinctions they make, vocabulary can be broad or precise and words cover different semantical ground, and there is a theory that a person's thinkingis constrained by peculiarities of ones language. An example that jumps out at me is the difference between the English word "love," and the Greek eros, philos, agape. Obviously, language is not mentally constraining to the point where an English speaker is incapable of understanding the distinctions made between the different types of affection denoted by the different Greek words, but I can testify that being forced to think in term of Greek vocabulary can make a big difference (I had to write a response to Plato's Symposium as a college student, and it was a mess beforeI went to the professor to look over my draft and he pointed out that I was talking about "love," not "eros." The result was a half-way decent paper).
So, it is not out of the question that learning vocabulary may help people reason better simply by giving them the mental tools to define problems better.

Posted by: Grey Fox at January 25, 2013 07:12 PM (4vofC)

146
I'm of the view that there are several kinds of intelligence--and many of them don't involve vocabulary.I was in theSputnik generation of smart kids thattook standardized tests three times a week for years. We got to the point where taking tests was ho hum--if you were good at it, it waslike being good enough at cards to wonder what the other players and the test designer had in mind. You finished the test early and had plenty of time to indulge in such woolgathering.
I've got advanced degrees and scholastic honors out the ying yang--a law degree from Boalt Hall at UC Berkeley (where I was on the Law Review, and unlike Obama actually published something that was later cited, with favor several times by courts in several jurisdictions) Order of the Coif (Phi Beta Kappa for lawyers as it were), and my vocabulary is good. I've spent 40 plus yearssince law school working with and among some very smart people--and some educated fools.
A significant number of IQ tests rely on verbal skills alone--and a big vocabulary helps there. But they don't necessarily measure mathematical ability, or reasoning through spatial relationships. They don't measure social skills needed to be effective in implementing whatever bright ideas one comes up with.And they sure as hell don't measure judgement and common sense. Old Slow Joe Biden would probably flunk most IQ tests--he is "slow" in many ways. Obama would probably score high on IQ tests--or maybe his speechwriters would, because without a teleprompter Obama does not appear to be too bright. And he lacks intelligence in other ways.

Still, even though I tend to poo poo the actual relevance of doing well on verbally oriented IQ tests, I won't knock the benefits of having a large vocabulary. It gives you ways to address what you see in the world. Of course for the Bamster, a few four letter Anglo Saxon terms are sufficient. I woke up early one morning and uttered such a word--and SWMBO, my wife of some 45 years said "You were thinking about Obama weren't you?" I do love how that woman knows what I'm thinking.

Posted by: Comanche Voter at January 25, 2013 07:12 PM (oe1aw)

147 Gnarly.
Posted by: Brave Sir Robin at January 25, 2013 07:08 PM (M0O7A)


-------------------------------------------------


Dude!

Posted by: Soona at January 25, 2013 07:12 PM (/ZV9/)

148 140 ConservativeMonster,


why whatever do you mean?


HATECHICKEN!

yeah it may not be 1984, but it is definitely 1982.

Posted by: sven10077 at January 25, 2013 07:12 PM (LRFds)

149 To expand on some theories above, kids now literally have instant access to unlimited access to reading material of all types at their fingertips....I don't know, it doesn't seem to do most of them much good,....in fact, quite the opposite. I think having a strong vocabulary, whether it is 5 cent or 5 dollar words, is an indicator of a lot of things. Reading, like any other skill, is something you get better at the more you do it, and the more you do it, the more you draw on past experiences, recognize words in different contexts, recognize patterns, etc. But having that inclination and discipline is a good indicator of IQ or drive (and often the two will get you to the same place). And I love geeky posts like this, thanks Ace.

Especially where you quote Bill Bryson-I recommended that same "English: The Mother Tongue" on a book thread a week or two back-a great read.

Posted by: goldilocks at January 25, 2013 07:12 PM (ac2bL)

150
Just because you "can" make every post a 10,000 word extravaganza.... doesn't mean you "should" make every post a 10,000 word extravaganza.



Posted by: Word of the Day... extravaganza at January 25, 2013 07:12 PM (pXUhl)

151 136
Any word with the "age" at the end sounds very very upper class and Frenchified.

Posted by: Tuna at January 25, 2013 07:13 PM (M/TDA)

152 97...[Ace in UR comment: Phonics is important. I don't know about word roots. With a few exceptions, most stems (like the vocate in advocate) aren't used in many other words, and the suffixes -- ad, ex, -- are frequently used very inconsistently and/or have several different meanings.

Okay, ex- and a- have consistent meanings, but ones like ad- could mean any of a dozen things. I don't think it helps kids to know ad- could mean "concerning, out of, at, on top of, into..." and the five other things it could mean.]

--------

Ace,
'Vocate'...not a word, I don't think....but 'vocation' is.

And I think you may underestimate kids ability to understand 'exceptions' to a rule, or a norm.
My kids loved to find exceptions to rules...in anything.

And teaching them some basic word origins...just thrown into a conversation...helped to get them interested in the basic concept of:
'Where things come from'...and...'How did this get this way'.

Posted by: wheatie at January 25, 2013 07:14 PM (fH4X9)

153 I still believe that the black lady politician (Maxine) who wanted Ebonics taught in schools was on to something. All sorts of possibilities for vocabulary expansion.

Posted by: Bufalobob at January 25, 2013 07:14 PM (x+7qA)

154 Apologies for the long post (and lousy sentence structure), I didn't have time to write a short one.

Posted by: Grey Fox at January 25, 2013 07:14 PM (4vofC)

155
Vocabulary does not make you smart, but I think it is a necessary foundation for the development of intelligence. It's why the "Double plus ungood" stunted vocabulary from 1984 is so disturbing.


Agreed. Left-wing douche-tards hijack words for a reason.

Posted by: Lurking Canuck at January 25, 2013 07:14 PM (0WLla)

156 I've been fond of "muddle" lately. Maybe because it's a verb that's a prelude to cocktails.
Posted by: Brave Sir Robin at January 25, 2013 07:12 PM (M0O7A)

------------------------------------------------------


I like the word "muggle".

Posted by: Soona at January 25, 2013 07:14 PM (/ZV9/)

157 Oh, I dunno, MikeTheMoose; I have certainly read some convoluted shit in its original Latin or Greek, or at least I've tried to.

Writing reams of unintelligible nonsense is just as possible in Latin and Greek as it is in Teutonic.

But then there's the Semitic languages. Classical Arabic is a damn difficult language to learn yet, somehow, the people who write in it tend to get to the point. (Men like Arafat, famously, have dumped upon us unbelievable bullshit in English but startlingly clear declarations to their own people in their own language.) That makes actual Arabic texts somewhat easier to deal with.

Posted by: Earl Gaveston of Cornhole at January 25, 2013 07:15 PM (p39hN)

158 One time, I was lucky enough to drop the word "antidiestablishmentarianism" into a conversation. Everybody looked at me like I had twelve heads.

Posted by: Big T Party at January 25, 2013 07:15 PM (WiQr+)

159 actus me invito factus non est meus actus

No one saw me do it, you can't prove anything.

Posted by: toby928© presents at January 25, 2013 07:15 PM (QupBk)

160 Yeah, people who tend to read are the ones who pick up good vocabularies. And yeah, they tend to be on the smart side, "50 Shades" notwithstanding. So I'm with you there.

But "excrescence" as a useless duplicate word? Do you not hear the "excreted" in that, the vivid evocation of the sphincter that is doing the excreting? If I say that Obama is an outgrowth of Marxism, you will yawn, because I have stated the obvious, in a boring way. But if I say that Obama is an excrescence of Marxism, you will picture that Marxist sphincter, starting out closed...gradually opening to excrete something, oh, something is coming out, something that this sphincter has been tensed to deliver to us....AH! Relief! Now we have Obama. An excrescence. Does that word seem useful now?

Posted by: Splunge at January 25, 2013 07:16 PM (2IW5Q)

161 orientate.

Conversate.

Posted by: BumperStickerist at January 25, 2013 07:16 PM (RuUvx)

162 Persnickety is one of my favorite words. Also discombobulated is close to my heart. People actually ask me what it means when I use it in a sentence. I'm proud to say I now hear those same people using it themselves.

Posted by: Tuna at January 25, 2013 07:16 PM (M/TDA)

163 Apologies for the long post (and lousy sentence structure), I didn't have time to write a short one.
Posted by: Grey Fox at January 25, 2013 07:14 PM (4vofC)


-----------------------------------------------


What we need now is a treatise on paragraphs and punctuation.

Posted by: Soona at January 25, 2013 07:16 PM (/ZV9/)

164 Pancake is a powerful and versatile word.

Posted by: eman at January 25, 2013 07:17 PM (jp2Ur)

165 159 Toby 928th,

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Posted by: sven10077 at January 25, 2013 07:17 PM (LRFds)

166 And pg wins the thread

Posted by: Earl Gaveston of Cornhole at January 25, 2013 07:17 PM (p39hN)

167 161
Dubya is moron?

Posted by: Big T Party at January 25, 2013 07:18 PM (WiQr+)

168 163 Soona,


YOU'LL NEVER TAKE ME ALIVE COPPER!

Posted by: sven10077 at January 25, 2013 07:18 PM (LRFds)

169 OT it has been confirmed that the "school" shooting in Houston was just another case of "When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong" aka Thug Life

According to court documents, an argument erupted after 25-year-old Jody Neal bumped into Foster on campus. About 30 minutes later, Foster and his friend, 22-year-old Carlton Berry, spotted Neal near the doorway to the Academic Building. Foster fired at Neal, who was wounded in the abdomen and leg, the documents said. Neal ran into the campus library and collapsed.

According to the affidavit, Neal told investigators that Foster shot him. Berry, who was shot in the leg, was arrested at the scene. Bobby Cliburn, a 55-year-old maintenance worker who was standing nearby, was also shot in the leg.

Foster fled, and a manhunt ensued. But the affidavit does not say who shot Berry and Cliburn, and Garcia said officers are trying to determine whether Foster was the only one who fired a gun.

Berry and Foster are both charged with two felony counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon

Posted by: thunderb at January 25, 2013 07:18 PM (Dnbau)

170 Tribbing.

Kate Upton and Helena Mattson were tribbing on the day bed.

Tribbing.

Posted by: dananjcon at January 25, 2013 07:19 PM (NAgdp)

171 English is perhaps the coolest language around.

Posted by: Tuna at January 25, 2013 07:19 PM (M/TDA)

172 there are a lot of things the public says they want but, in reality, doesn't care about -- and yet I had no actual word to express this.

The word you're looking for is posturing. Posturing. Or posing. Either will do.

Posted by: pep at January 25, 2013 07:19 PM (6TB1Z)

173 "Eviscerate." It just feels right.

Posted by: Brave Sir Robin at January 25, 2013 07:20 PM (M0O7A)

174
Truman , is that you ?
I heard you were a dead man .

Posted by: awkward davies at January 25, 2013 07:20 PM (USjX1)

175 Dubya is moron?
Posted by: Big T Party at January 25, 2013 07:18 P

A moron like a fox.
_

Posted by: BumperStickerist at January 25, 2013 07:20 PM (RuUvx)

176 two felony counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon

If those are the charges, they're getting off easily. Shooting someone in the leg is "assault". A gut ("abdomen") shot is an entirely different beast. Should be a hangin' offence IMO.

Posted by: Earl Gaveston of Cornhole at January 25, 2013 07:21 PM (p39hN)

177 Men can be witches too. Don't be sexist.

Sure, and men use the little girl's room cause we're all for gender equality.

Then we'll all gather around for our make-believe tea party with Mr. Snookums the Posh Teddy and Horny the Fabulous Unicorn.

Posted by: ConservativeMonster at January 25, 2013 07:21 PM (NmR1a)

178 To be honest, it's a lot easier to write down long wordy shit than it is talk that crap.

Posted by: Soona at January 25, 2013 07:22 PM (/ZV9/)

179 47 Wifey and I play the dictionary game sometimes when we have company. We take turns looking up obscure words and then make up definitions. If you hate laughing, you don't ever want to play this one.
Posted by: sTevo at January 25, 2013 06:48 PM (VMcEw)

*******

We could never play that game (we called it 'fictionary') with my brothers and dad 'cause among us it seemed like one of us either knew or could intuit the meaning of most obscure sounding words. My dad, especially, had a prodigious excrescence of a vocabulary!Just how we were brought up.

Posted by: Seamus Muldoon at January 25, 2013 07:22 PM (1OZSU)

180 Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Yeah, there are times when I wish I had gone to the Altsprachliche Gymnasium rather than the Neusprachliche High School in Germany. Rather than French and English, those cods got to study Latin and Greek.

Of course, Google translate is really helping me keep up with you guys. God bless technology.

Posted by: toby928© presents at January 25, 2013 07:22 PM (QupBk)

181 I like homophones.


That is offal.

Posted by: BumperStickerist at January 25, 2013 07:23 PM (RuUvx)

182 And perhaps the coolest book in the English language is the OED. You could spend hours and hours just perusing the entries. The scholarship and research that went into the original is mind boggling .

Posted by: Tuna at January 25, 2013 07:23 PM (M/TDA)

183 One of the basic points of the English language is that it loves to absorb and create all sorts of words. English has its own wordhoard, and it loves to riffle through it as much as it loves to steal new pretties for it.

If you have a big vocabulary (even if just to understand that wealth of words, and occasionally to use one at an artistic moment to make a point), you are playing English's game. If you don't, you're missing out on a lot of fun. (Not that you'll care, if it's not your kind of fun.)

Posted by: Suburbanbanshee at January 25, 2013 07:25 PM (cvXSV)

184 Strong word knowledge will get our kids in college.

See what I did there??

Posted by: Jesse Jackson at January 25, 2013 07:26 PM (NAgdp)

185 I liked how I was playing word Yahtzee and made the word"bisque".

Posted by: model_1066 at January 25, 2013 07:26 PM (7xPCu)

186 I think you should give "excrescence" a break. It means, literally, something excreted (not just outgrowth, but pushed out), so you should be able to have some fun with it.
As in, "Eric Holder, what an excrescence."
I do love your posts, but this one--feh. It's the first one I haven't liked since you attacked Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

Posted by: Molly at January 25, 2013 07:27 PM (Hmj6T)

187 exsanguinate

You're ghostin' us, motherfucker. I don't care who you are back in the world, you give away our position one more time, I'll exsanguinate ya, real quiet. Leave ya here. Got that?

Posted by: Sergeant Mac Eliot at January 25, 2013 07:27 PM (QupBk)

188 180 Toby 928th,

That's ok I had to check, I got into a bad habit of using Dog latin when discussing political legal wrangling and fucked up my memory of "latin."

Mater semper certa est.


ie a Mother is always certain, or as my insane mother would use it....


"I know best."

Posted by: sven10077 at January 25, 2013 07:27 PM (LRFds)

189 One of the basic points of the English language is that it loves to absorb and create all sorts of words.

So, it's the borg of languages?

Posted by: pep at January 25, 2013 07:27 PM (6TB1Z)

190 181 I like homophones. That is offal.
Posted by: BumperStickerist at January 25, 2013 07:23 PM (RuUvx)

*****

So you're not homophonophobic?

Posted by: Seamus Muldoon at January 25, 2013 07:28 PM (1OZSU)

191 181 I like homophones. That is offal.
Ewe would know.

Posted by: model_1066 at January 25, 2013 07:28 PM (7xPCu)

192 Ace:

There's a balance to strike on five-dollar words. Sometimes they seem like they're thrown in solely to impress, like Jon Huntsman breaking out the Mandarin in a debate. Other times they serve a purpose, and you'll always find someone to accuse you of being pretentious for using them.

Quick pet peeve: Anyone else think that "utilize" is extremely overused? Most of the time I hear it because the speaker thinks "use" isn't impressive enough.

Mirror-Universe Mitt Romney:

"There are plenty of Latin(ate) words...which are perceived as queer because they seem like the sort of words only a homo would use."

Ever see Layer Cake?

Mr. X: "Well, that's a very expansive question."

Jimmy Price: "Expansive?" Laughs. "The day was when only homosexuals used words like 'expansive.' Tell me, son, are you a homosexual?"

Posted by: JPS at January 25, 2013 07:31 PM (sjCFI)

193 Resistance is feudal.

Posted by: The Germanic Roots of the English Language at January 25, 2013 07:31 PM (QupBk)

194 "Eviscerate." It just feels right.

Posted by: Brave Sir Robin at January 25, 2013 07:20 PM (M0O7A)



One small benefit of video gaming - you can learn some novel violent words. As well as picking up non-US spellings. (I prefer judgement over judgment, don't judge me!)

There's even foreign vocabulary - Wunderbar!

Posted by: ConservativeMonster at January 25, 2013 07:31 PM (NmR1a)

195 my advice to my college freshman son.

"Write like you speak.
Don't talk like a moron."

-

Posted by: BumperStickerist at January 25, 2013 07:32 PM (RuUvx)

196 My Grandpa would give us kids a quarter every time we used a big impressive word. 25 cent words he called them. I would go to the dictionary and find new ones. I got many quarters.

Posted by: Oldsailors Poet, Author of Amy Lynn available on Amazon. http://tinyurl.com/ahc8poj at January 25, 2013 07:32 PM (l86i3)

197 Quick pet peeve: Anyone else think that "utilize" is extremely
overused? Most of the time I hear it because the speaker thinks "use"
isn't impressive enough.


I hate utilize, too.

I like the rule that utilize should be reserved for when you use something outside of its intended purpose. You use a hammer on a nail. You utilize a hammer to MacGuyver a ticking time-bomb.

Which would mean that people utilize "utilize" in stupid ways ...

Posted by: ConservativeMonster at January 25, 2013 07:36 PM (NmR1a)

198 "The best vocabulary doesn't give you another word to say the same thing -- it gives you a word without which you couldn't express yourself properly at all. It doesn't just stick a new synonym in your head; it introduces an idea that you probably weren't even aware of."

Agree. Ace, this reminds me of a post I read here a while ago. There were several words. One was "staircase-wit", which means thinking of a clever comeback once the moment has passed. Anyway, I enjoyed the post.

Posted by: OceanusRex at January 25, 2013 07:36 PM (6Hspk)

199 This just went from being my fave blog to my triple-dog-dare fave. Also, #43 FTW.

Posted by: Coynebr at January 25, 2013 07:37 PM (035Na)

200 Somebody here doesn't like WFB.

Posted by: SFGoth at January 25, 2013 07:37 PM (dZ756)

201 160 - Well done.

Posted by: Margarita DeVille at January 25, 2013 07:38 PM (C8mVl)

202 A friend in college had her own copy of the OED, first time I had ever heard of it. It came in its own box, two volumes with tiny print, and a magnifying glass. So cool.

Apparently English is the only language with anything like it (heck, even the first dictionaries were a giant leap forward in terms of other world languages) or at least was for a very long time, and, I think, even though it is a mishmash of many different languages, is always changing and has several distinct branches ---British, American, Australian, to say nothing of technical and scientific language or pop culture, the alphabet's utility on keyboards vs. chinese characters, for example-- it is still the world's most desirable language to learn to speak, read and write.

Another side geek note-the amount of words and phrases invented by Shakespeare 500 years ago still in use today.... "By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes...." "Fair is foul and foul is fair...", down the primrose path, in my mind's eye....

But writing. Don't even get me started on penmanship, talk about a sad, lost art.

Posted by: goldilocks at January 25, 2013 07:38 PM (ac2bL)

203 Pep said: "So it's the Borg of languages?"

I'd say it's more like a dragon with alchemical powers and no sense of excess....

Posted by: Suburbanbanshee at January 25, 2013 07:39 PM (cvXSV)

204 The Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect was another term I hadn't heard of until reading Ace. I was well aware of the phenomena but never knew what to call it.

Posted by: OceanusRex at January 25, 2013 07:40 PM (6Hspk)

205 193Resistance is feudal.Posted by: The Germanic Roots of the English Language at January 25, 2013 07:31 PM (QupBk)Amusingly, I am pretty sure that neither "resistance" nor "feudal" come from Old English. Was that intentional?

Posted by: Grey Fox at January 25, 2013 07:43 PM (4vofC)

206 I hate to do this, but this is a real pet peeve of mine:


erstwhile
adv.
In the past; at a former time; formerly.
adj.
Former: our erstwhile companions.

I see this word misused to a demoralizing degree. Repeat it and learn it.

(Doffs pedant cap, submits self for flagellation.)

Posted by: joncelli succumbs to pedantry at January 25, 2013 07:43 PM (CWlPF)

207 I see this word misused to a demoralizing degree. Repeat it and learn it.


Dude, that's really a good point. I'm totally erstwhile about that.

Posted by: pep at January 25, 2013 07:47 PM (6TB1Z)

208 The 800 lb. elephant is the high school age boarder jumper children that arrive with no more than a 3rd grade education an are expected to care about vocabulary. We waste tax dollars giving them free AIMS and ACT tests. Talk about a garbage disposal of taxes. I know. I watch the waste on a daily basis.

Posted by: Liliana at January 25, 2013 07:48 PM (Zx3MS)

209
I didn't read the whole post but I'll chime in anyways. Learning Latin is extremely helpful in expanding your vocabulary. I never took Latin but since my oldest brother did I got some exposure. The deal is that many words have Latin roots. Same as prefixes and suffixes. You learn them and the rest comes easy.

And using your fucking brain also helps a great deal. What do the words excrescence and exterior have in common? Learning word meanings from context is so much easier if you know the meanings of lots of prefixes and suffixes.

I found learning Spanish vocabulary far easier than most of my classmates because I could see their Latin or English connection. The cognates stuck out to me like a sore thumb. They're easy to learn if you have a decent vocabulary and use your brain. For example, the Spanish verb "to write" took me two seconds to learn permanently while lots of other people in my class had to memorize it. The Spanish verb is escribir. The idiots in my class couldn't see the English word scribe hiding in it. I always wondered if it was because they had a limited English vocabulary or were just too stupid to make the connection. Or lazy. In another class we had to learn the meaning of the term "in situ". How fucking stupid do you have to be to not permanently learn that term's meaning after one explanation?

I guess that reading a lot helps, which gave me an advantage over lots of other kids. But I also wonder if there's some "linguistic inclination" some people have, much like a mechanical inclination. I think I might have scored in the 98th percentile once on a standardized reading test but it was usually the 99th. And I'm no brain surgeon. Maybe it 's because I grew up in a house full of books. Maybe it was because I was curious -- when I was a kid and got really bored I'd grab a random book from our encyclopedia, flip to a random page and start reading. If I had an encyclopedia now I'd probably still do it.

The strange thing is that almost everybody likes to learn. Some of the most ignorant people I've known had fantastic street smarts. They only learned what they considered they really needed to know.

It seems like it boils down to motivation. And that's something you can't teach, the most you can possibly do is instill it. And only to some people.

Posted by: Ed Anger at January 25, 2013 07:50 PM (tOkJB)

210 BETTER to flagellate THAN never.

Posted by: BumperStickerPlover at January 25, 2013 07:50 PM (RuUvx)

211 Vocabulary is like sex positions. More is always better.

Posted by: Jason at January 25, 2013 07:53 PM (6VB4r)

212 "So up with that sort of vocabulary, sure, but please save me from the "excresences.""

I know a good dermatologist, Ace.

Posted by: West at January 25, 2013 07:53 PM (vEjs1)

213
"I don't buy the premise,"

Do you even bother to read your own blog. I wonder about you sometimes.

Posted by: Gulermo at January 25, 2013 07:58 PM (f+EPI)

214 If the word means "outgrowth," then
why not say "outgrowth"?


-----------

I'm on the receiving end of this argument with Mrs. Chronda from time to time. My retort: "I did!"

Posted by: Citizen Anachronda at January 25, 2013 08:00 PM (1c58W)

215 Oh but Ace, it was your exquisite use of the word "excrescent" that made me realize this blog was the place for me. As in the phrase, "whatever that excrescent Anna Niccole Smith/Andrew Dice Clay straight-to-DVD movie was called", from a post back in 2008 when I first started hanging around here regularly.

Posted by: JeremiadBullfrog at January 25, 2013 08:02 PM (Y5I9o)

216 Here's the link. It's a good one:

http://ace.mu.nu/archives/274300.php

Posted by: JeremiadBullfrog at January 25, 2013 08:02 PM (Y5I9o)

217 208 The 800 lb. elephant is the high school age boarder jumper children that arrive with no more than a 3rd grade education an are expected to care about vocabulary. We waste tax dollars giving them free AIMS and ACT tests. Talk about a garbage disposal of taxes. I know. I watch the waste on a daily basis.
Posted by: Liliana at January 25, 2013 07:48 PM (Zx3MS)

I read it here: Some college prof. described them as " Illiterate in 2 languages."
Self. Denounced.

Posted by: Brave Sir Robin at January 25, 2013 08:03 PM (M0O7A)

218 I watch the waste on a daily basis.

My sister and I agree on just about nothing, as she's been a proponent of big government since her late teens. She moved off to FL to dispense government largesse a while back. But she said the attitude of the boarder jumpers pissed her off to the boiling point. She claimed they would pull up in 50k cars and ream her out because they didn't get some free perk, while she drove away in a pitiful Chevy with 200k miles and a bad trans.

I think they've overplayed their hand to the point of backlash. But what possible hand do they have except arrogance and a faux sense of entitlement?

Posted by: Regular Moron at January 25, 2013 08:03 PM (feFL6)

219 42
Actually, excrescence is a pretty obvious word if you understand the
principles of (Neo)Latin morphology and know the word "crest."


----------

If you are what you eat, does that mean you were what you excrete?

Posted by: Citizen Anachronda at January 25, 2013 08:04 PM (1c58W)

220 The 800 lb. elephant is the high school age boarder

Border?

Posted by: Brave Sir Robin at January 25, 2013 08:04 PM (M0O7A)

221
wheatie @30: "I always used 'big words' with my kids...and didn't talk down to them. "

Me too, and it's paid off. I never could get my daughter to read books the way I did when I was young, but she's picked up a lot of vocabulary from me. Just the other day, she used the word "eschew" in a casual sentence! Quite surprised me.

How's the French going, Ace?

Posted by: Dr. Mabuse at January 25, 2013 08:07 PM (FkH4y)

222 Agreed with Ace's general point, but:

160 is right on.

Posted by: moviegique at January 25, 2013 08:09 PM (Cepxj)

223 The most interesting part of this guy's article was his showing vocabulary to be a form of mental "chunking." Chunking is grouping ideas into a higher abstract, thus freeing up space in the active memory for more stuff. I've been to seminars where they demonstrated this and it's very true. A human can only hold up to 9 bits of information in the active memory (or whatever it's called) and then, if new information enters, something must leave. This is best case scenario. Actually, the least "intelligent" human can only handle 2 bits of info, the most intelligent 9.

Anyway, this is the first time I've heard this applied to vocabulary. What this means is that, as we acquire new words which "chunk" multiple concepts into one word, we free up mental space for more concepts.

I believe this is a highly important concept. I'm an English prof with some linguistics background and this stuff seems very important to me.

One thing, though, that I didn't agree with the author was his treating bigger vocabulary as something more than a correlation with bigger income. It's quite likely that people with higher vocabularies simply are the type who would earn more.

Posted by: MaxMBJ at January 25, 2013 08:10 PM (deaac)

224 Years ago I copied down a phrase written by George V. Higgins, trial layer and author, just because of the monumental flow of the words and theabsolute disgust he voices with them:
"...he is deserving of attention because he is a contembtible, disgusting, and reptilian excrescence on the human race, odious and vile in what he did, paltry and repellantin his bland assurance that he merits some sort of respect for having done it..."
That's how you use a $5 word to good effect.
Oops. Sorry. Different form. I'll leave it anyway just because I like it.

Posted by: Dennis at January 25, 2013 08:12 PM (w6S0H)

225 I would suggest reading The Right Word by W. F. Buckley. Descriptiveness is the illiterate's way of verbalization. English is a language of scholarship and each word has it's own very important precise meaning.

Posted by: Kenneth Neil at January 25, 2013 08:13 PM (7ZHO7)

226 Sorry, that's lawyer not layer

Posted by: Dennis at January 25, 2013 08:19 PM (w6S0H)

227 225 I would suggest reading The Right Word by W. F. Buckley. Descriptiveness is the illiterate's way of verbalization. English is a language of scholarship and each word has it's own very important precise meaning.

I still remember seething when my English teacher and half the class corrected my use of "persons" with "people". They're different words, dangit!

Posted by: ConservativeMonster at January 25, 2013 08:19 PM (7um7O)

228 Geez. It's reptillian not repellantin

Posted by: Dennis at January 25, 2013 08:22 PM (w6S0H)

229 I've got a vocabulary in the upper range and all it does is make one seem like a smartass or taking on airs of superiority.

At least that seems to part of the reaction I've gotten whenever I've demonstrated a greater grasp of the language than others. (I try not to show it but it's difficult to stop oneself from fully expressing an idea or making a comment about a subject.

People don't like to feel stupid and when they think you think you're better than them, they'll go our of their way to prove that idea wrong by bringing you down or by ignoring you. In a team work environment even if it's loose that can get you fired, disciplined even hurt or killed. I'm sure every one's seen a guy who seems smart getting disabused of the notion by the group and not because he's wrong but because he's right.

It's human nature.

This only applies at a certain income strata and peer grouping that has a lower formal education level. I've always regretted that I was educated beyond my abilities and resources to make proper use of it.

Posted by: Bitter Clinger (aka 3 tooth) at January 25, 2013 08:22 PM (3E2th)

230 My favorite word of all time is callipygian.

Posted by: holygoat at January 25, 2013 08:23 PM (IGIFh)

231 I can haz edumication?

Posted by: Derp at January 25, 2013 08:24 PM (Vk2pI)

232 I think words such as "excrescence" may be considered bullshit by some, but add to the richness of expression in English (not to mention precision, in many cases).

Posted by: Jay Guevara at January 25, 2013 08:27 PM (IDSI7)

233 The first time I heard "burnoose" was when Miss Teschmacher asked what they are wearing in Addis Abbaba. Otis replies that it looks like some kind of burnoose.

I have no idea why that exchange is stuck in my head for 30 years.

Posted by: Captain Atom at January 25, 2013 08:28 PM (q6InX)

234
"I can haz edumication?"
Why no, no you can't. At least from the government run facilities, you can't. What you do on your own dime, however...

Posted by: Gulermo at January 25, 2013 08:32 PM (f+EPI)

235 "The best vocabulary doesn't give you another word to say the same thing -- it gives you a word without which you couldn't express yourself properly at all. It doesn't just stick a new synonym in your head; it introduces an idea that you probably weren't even aware of."


agreed. I like introducing foreign words for which english is lacking that term

Circumflugel- swedish for flow around a partial obstruction. ie a clog in a blood vessel or pipe
machateinum- yiddish for the child in law parents
mittler- for not the oldest, or youngest but the child in the middle
schkol- a parent that lost their children. opposite of orphan

Posted by: Avi at January 25, 2013 08:32 PM (/ZEtn)

236 "Bill Bryson uses velleity as a perfect example of "words [that] deserve to be better known." He argues rhetorically, "Doesn't that seem a useful term?"

Yeah, it would be nice to learn some new stuff, but...

Posted by: SeeWhatIDidThere at January 25, 2013 08:36 PM (7vsg4)

237 These guys don't realize that their findings directly contradict their hypothesis. While the notion that vocabulary is a key to advancement may be true, their conclusion regarding IQ contradicts it.

If you do read a lot, in your native language, then you will pick up things like obscure vocabulary. But if that's all you do, you won't advance your mind in any other area. On the other hand, if you engage in other intellectual pursuits, say money or mathematics, you won't have nearly as much time to read and so you won't develop that indicator.

So high vocabulary isn't an indicator of high IQ, it's an artifact of repetitive activity.

I think vocabulary is a false indicator, but it's often the only measure people have of others' intellect in casual setting.

I think only Americans would make such a direct correlation with language skill and intellect. They'd never have this discussion in Japan, India or China. For that matter, you wouldn't have it in Europe either.

While two thirds of your SAT score is now based on verbal skill, India's educational system basically sends people to a career in electrical engineering. If you can't handle the demanding regimen, you do something else.

Because of who our elites are, there is a tremendous bias towards language as the measure of intellect. It's making us highly noncompetitive in the global market.

Posted by: AmishDude at January 25, 2013 08:38 PM (T0NGe)

238 3 Obama is an excresence...


excresence...

I think that word does not mean what I think it means.

Posted by: teh fly at January 25, 2013 08:43 PM (SSWdi)

239 "Is a high vocabulary an cause of a high IQ or an effect of it?"

Congratulations. While pondering over whether vocabulary affects IQ, you proved that grammar does.

Posted by: SmokyBourbon at January 25, 2013 08:52 PM (2i6Vi)

240
"SmokyBourbon"
Set on fire. Better that neat, that's for sure.
Grammar is that you? How's Grammarpa doing?

Posted by: Gulermo at January 25, 2013 08:59 PM (f+EPI)

241 As a prelaw advisor, I get reports from my university over LSAT takers. Just from poking and soaking, those majors that have difficult reading do better on the LSAT--philosophy, economics, etc. As I try to tell undergraduates wanting to go to law school, if you want to score well on standardized tests, you gotta read difficult stuff. Word lists and LSAT prep courses don't make up years of avoiding difficult texts.

Those that take Latin also do extremely well.
That is all.

Posted by: wg at January 25, 2013 09:07 PM (hqjva)

242 Dunno, excrescence is indeed a poetic word, but you can be forgiven for not necessarily considering it so, given the state of poetry these days. For instance.

Excrescence of the arteries
Was increasing at his coteries
So he had to scrub some plaque
Or have a heart attack
While walking his pet Pekingese.

Or there are delightful ways to use the word - it's certainly grotesque --

'Each crease was an excrescence'

I don't know who got the idea to use it for describing the shape of an aircraft cabin... but it's typical of technical writing.

Posted by: RiverC at January 25, 2013 09:11 PM (274MD)

243 The vocabulary pick up demonstrated here is, to me, the way AI is going to work, if it ever does. We will need to build algorithms that are capable of using context clues. Then, you force feed as many examples as possible to the computer. Let the algorithm sort out the pattern.

This is how IBM taught Watson how to school Jeopardy! by the way.

Posted by: A-Hole at January 25, 2013 09:26 PM (2OS/f)

244 wg,

Engineers and other hard science majors do pretty well too. I think it has less to do with rigorous reading as it has to do with logic.

(I teach LSAT prep for the record and was a Philosophy major.)

Posted by: A-Hole at January 25, 2013 09:30 PM (2OS/f)

245 English is full of words like 'excresences' because English takes words from everywhere and adopts them. That is the strength of English.

And yes, reading more allows you to encounter more words, because reading puts you in touch with other times and the words that were used then. Reading Sherlock Holmes puts you in touch with the words Doyle was familiar with, for example. Not to do that means you really are not in touch with the people who came before you. And not being in touch with them is a big loss.

Posted by: Mikey NTH at January 25, 2013 10:04 PM (gmoEG)

246 "14
More evidence that the 60's and 70's really screwed up a lot of things."


The big call was for "relevance". That meant "don't make me actually work to understand something, cater to my ignorance".


And they did cater. And they remained ignorant.

Posted by: Mikey NTH at January 25, 2013 10:09 PM (gmoEG)

247 I expected a long string of Firesign comments. (Nick Danger was where I first heard the words "burnoose," "mukluks," and "brouhaha.") Morons let me down.

Posted by: rtw at January 25, 2013 10:33 PM (FQVZ0)

248
"And they remained ignorant."
Ignorance is not problem that can't be solved. Stupidity, on the otherhand, goes clean through and out the other side.

Posted by: Gulermo at January 25, 2013 10:50 PM (f+EPI)

249 "I always used 'big words' with my kids...and didn't talk down to them. I didn't even realize that I was doing it. Just never did learn 'baby talk'. This resulted in them having a greater understanding of things, at an earlier age than their friends. "Wow. Does your mom always talk like that?"....I once overheard a little friend say. My daughter said...."Yes. Your's doesn't?" "
Apparently this happens to other people also- so I copied it.
And a note on reading- if you don't learn reading through phonics, you don't really read. When I'm in any group of adults or kids, and a reading aloud session occurs, it's very easy to pick out those who never learned phonics as they stumble over words. Might as well have learned hieroglyphics.

Posted by: Harold at January 25, 2013 11:44 PM (mkqcx)

250 Ace, I'm sure the lexicographers at the OED will contact you regarding words you don't like, and expunge them from their dictionaries posthaste.

Because if Ace don't like it, it's gotta go. Ditto any old word Ace doesn't get. Banish it!! Like rich people's money, no one needs it!!

It's like a really, really bad boss I had , who objected in person to a memo I wrote using the word "heretofore".

He stormed into my office and shouted, "Don't ever use that word again!"

Snork!!!




Posted by: Jim Sonweed at January 26, 2013 01:05 AM (HVtRc)

251 230
My favorite word of all time is callipygian.

As opposed to Moochelle, who is definitely steatopigan.

Posted by: Jim Sonweed at January 26, 2013 01:07 AM (HVtRc)

252 TLDR,

Are they maybe talking about the ability to understand multiple vocabularies? Otherwise, I do not see vocabulary making much of a difference regarding IQ and advancement at all. Most IQ tests for children focus on shapes and patterns, not language.

Posted by: squirmn at January 26, 2013 02:55 AM (kXlvR)

253 I have a macular excrescence growing on my ass. I would be happy to call it an outgrowth, but that would be a lie.

It's macular, you see. It's not growing out.

Wocka wocka!

Posted by: the wabbit at January 26, 2013 03:21 AM (v3Wj/)

254 "Excresence"? Ace is reading the third part of the Manchester Churchill biography. That has to be the case because Churchill the North African commanders not to treat Tobruk as an excresence but rather as a sally point and I said wtf and had to use my kindle dictionary too.

Posted by: bestie21 at January 26, 2013 04:05 AM (ijwsR)

255 Sorry to be so late to the party. I feel the need to say that I believe that thought is not possible in the absence of vocabulary. The sciences and engineering and plumbing and carpentry and any other profession you care to name have all developed jargon so that they can express complex ideas with one or two words. It is not a question of having a good vocabulary or being a scientist or engineer. These professional invariably have a good vocabulary albeit somewhat skewed to the jargon of their respective fields. Words are the building blocks of thought. Imagine for a moment that you are a child with little or no vocabulary. Explain that big (no, can't use that word) green (no, can't use that word) plant (no, can't use that word) in the front(no, can't use that word) yard( no, can't use that word either). Go ahead; try to think without vocabulary. The greater the vocabulary the greater the ability to think; and the greater the ability to think the greater the opportunity to extrapolate basic concepts into more complex ones. A society can be fairly judged by the level of the vocabulary used in common discourse. Our society uses gutter language and as a result has a gutter mentality. The masses have spoken, and to listen is to despair.

Posted by: Phil-Inn at January 26, 2013 04:39 AM (3dAId)

256 One of my current favorite words is disambiguate.

Posted by: Aunt Ralph at January 26, 2013 05:32 AM (9Ka7L)

257
-- Is a high vocabulary an cause of a high IQ or an effect of it? --
The two will always be closely correlated, because words are the fundamental tools with which we think. We must have symbols to think; therefore, even a powerful mind, if stripped of its symbol-toolbox, would be impotent...and therefore unable to demonstrate its powers.
However, the cause-and-effect vector runs from mental power to the acquisition of symbols, not the other way around.Being given a set ofwrenches doesn't makeyou amechanic, y'know.

Posted by: Francis W. Porretto at January 26, 2013 06:12 AM (GCzY/)

258
Re: reading to your kids.
I read The Hobbit and Jungle Books to my kids when the oldest was 8. She read Jane Eyre at 10 and an abridged (only 500 pages) Les Miserables at 11. Maybe in high school she'll read Aquinas and be able to explain it to me; that's my hope.

Posted by: Steve the Pirate's wife at January 26, 2013 09:49 AM (/o5zX)

259 Excrescence = Protuberance.

Posted by: Radar at January 26, 2013 10:14 AM (Z64pB)

260 This post is one of the moments when I really like your mind.

Posted by: I'd rather be surfin at January 26, 2013 11:48 AM (g5wi5)

261 "Excrescence" is a fine and useful word: "Piers Morgan, like his Yank sbother other Thomas Friedman, is a rancid excrescence on the posterior extremity of the decayed corpse of American journalism."
Sometimes five cent words lack...ah... Punch.

Posted by: C Moss at January 26, 2013 09:15 PM (U3Vsf)

262 #83: I did that! I remember when I was in elementary school that several big boxes containing "The World Book" arrived at our house. Wow! I sat down and read for hours. It is one of the best memories of my childhood.

Reading is the key to vocabulary in my opinion.

Posted by: Francesca at January 26, 2013 10:53 PM (U5tRd)

263 #44: About pretend: In Spanish the word pretender has the idea of intend. When I was teaching English in Mexico, my boss kept saying 'pretend' when she really meant 'intend'. To this day, I feel guilty for never correcting her.

Posted by: Francesca at January 26, 2013 10:57 PM (U5tRd)

264 #93: About learning Latin:

Look for a community college that will allow your girls to audit a Latin course.

My father, a lawyer, encouraged me to study Latin, which I did for four years. I use it every day to teach English to international students. It is great for explaining new words.

Posted by: Francesca at January 26, 2013 11:09 PM (U5tRd)

265 Oops! #103 for the Latin idea above.

Posted by: Francesca at January 26, 2013 11:10 PM (U5tRd)

266 #153: Maxine is no lady.

Posted by: Francesca at January 26, 2013 11:27 PM (U5tRd)

267 #209: escribir. If people just pronounce it, they will hear 'scribble'.

Language is fun!

Posted by: Francesca at January 26, 2013 11:47 PM (U5tRd)

268 #218: Isn't it border? Let's just say 'frontier'.

Posted by: Francesca at January 26, 2013 11:51 PM (U5tRd)

269 #223: The idea of 'chunking' is used in teaching ESL where students learn appropriate 'chunks' for various conversational situations.

Posted by: Francesca at January 26, 2013 11:58 PM (U5tRd)

270 #255: Interesting thoughts. A similar process goes into teaching ESL. My students are college aged and above, but depending on their level of English, I have to filter my vocabulary on the fly. It does keep my mind flexible. Fortunately, I have a large vocabulary and have added many synomyns due to this filtering.

Posted by: Francesca at January 27, 2013 12:16 AM (U5tRd)

271 This thread has kept me entertained for a couple of hours. (I read the whole thing.) Thanks to all for the fun and educational posts.

Posted by: Francesca at January 27, 2013 12:21 AM (U5tRd)

272 for a blog which features words like 'depredation', 'lucre', 'rakish', 'cri de couer' all in the past few months, this seems a hollow attack. These words are all extraneous, in their own way. Yet each conveys its own singular image, rather than their staid and picayune alternative words like 'attack', 'money', 'disreputable' and 'heartfelt' respectively. they spice things up. to complain about certain words appearing, prima facie, to be purely pseudointellectual 'b.s. duplicates', seems purely an aesthetic preference. to my mode of (abjuring) metaphysics, that's basically b.s. in itself - hence the petitio principii.

Exit Question: is this a prescriptive or descriptive grammar blog?

Posted by: roald Dahl Paul at January 27, 2013 01:05 PM (Kd6lF)

273
I suppose "sticky out thing" is too messy?
I like words. I'm all for a better vocabulary.
The point about all the "school reforms" being useless is an important issue. I have said for a long time the problem isn't in the classroom it is in the Universities where they first teach teachers to kill the inate desire to learn. But the teachers unions blame the parents for not doing the teacher's job.
There is nothing like mindless, meaningless busy workto take the "ah-ha!" moment out of learning.
And homework is all teachers know. They seem to have no other tool.

Posted by: petunia at January 27, 2013 05:41 PM (DAcBA)

274 The definitions I see for "excrescence" indicate that it is an abnormal outgrowth.

For instance, your nose is an outgrowth - a second nose on your forehead is an excrescence.

Posted by: Jeff at February 05, 2013 06:25 PM (yAulP)






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