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Be Your Word`s Worth - 1

Make good use of the language labs in the engineering colleges and also the systems at home to work on your vocabulary development program.
You have a problem with one of your appliances at home and you call up your mechanic. He arrives with his tool box. He examines the appliance, opens his tool box, runs his fingers into the crowded world of small, big and medium nuts and bolts, wires and meshes, cords and hooks and picking up the appropriate tool, fixes the problem. You are happy that the problem is fixed and send him away with some good cash and a bright smile of thanks. Who is a good tools man? The one who uses the right tool for the right job or the one who fancies the flourish of a big tool? The answer is anybody's guess. Similarly, a good speaker is one who uses the right word for the right expression. It is possible and also important for you to have a number of words in your think box and use them appropriately to win your way. Simply put, success follows word power and the power of the word is packed in precision.

Some of the sure fire ways of improving vocabulary lie in reading extensively and using the new words that one has come across in the exercise of reading either in written or spoken communication. Coming across a new word is often compared to meeting a person in a party or a gathering. If a person is introduced to you once and you do not see him at all, the chances are that you tend to forget that person however important he might be. In the same way, a new word comes your way and you do not use that word again or grow familiar with it, the word becomes non-existent for you. It is as good as or as bad as not learning that word. Why do you think the word 'elephant ' is more familiar to you than the simpler sounding 'dodo'? I think it is only while learning a language that familiarity does not breed contempt!

Vocabulary cannot be learnt in isolation. It has to be a part of the general reading and listening that has to be taken up on a regular basis. When you look up for the meaning of a new word that you come across, write down the context of its usage and its other meanings as well. For example look at a sentence like this.
A) There were riots in the small towns.
B) The evening sky was a riot of color.
C) There was a riotous celebration after the victory.

In example (A) it means a violent disturbance, in (B) it refers to a great variety, while (C) denotes something full of energy. For any given word look up for a meaning in its wider context and jot down its various uses so that you will remember the word better for the extra color it throws in. And your interest in vocabulary is kept alive. Similarly words like pupil and expire have different meanings and careful attention is required to understand the import of these words basing on the context.

Another effective use of gaining word power is focusing on synonyms and antonyms. For every new word that comes into your radius, look up for synonyms and antonyms. With this, you can paint the world in black and white, with a few fascinating gray strokes in between and finish it off with a favourite color of your choice to complete your wor(l)d picture!!

The evolution of language is no different from human evolution. It happens over a period of time, with interaction from different sources. For a word, the prefix and suffix add a lot of muscle and flesh and give a different tone and tenor to it. Hence it is important that one pays heed to the affixes to gain hold on the word. There are positive and negative prefixes, and if you learn to discern the clue, it is not difficult to sniff the meaning of the word to a close proximity. For example ,em- and en- cause something as in encode and embrace while im-, il- negate as in impossible and illiterate. In the same breath, if you get to the meaning of the root words, your understanding of the vocabulary gains a new momentum. For instance, if you know that the root word demo refers to people then democracy, demography and demonstration are easy to guess. To give you one more example, the root word spec means sight or to see. In the light of this, remember to look at words like spectacular, spectacle, spectator, prospect and retrospect.

Once you have gained some idea of gathering new words and practiced on retaining them, you have come a long way. The next step would be to group the same thought words which have a different degree of intensity. For instance, when you zero in on the word walk , you are also sprinting, jogging, ambling, meandering, jostling, hobbling, limping, trudging and sauntering your way to make new words a walk in the park kind of experience!! This practice is especially helpful to you when you are preparing to read more and are aiming to achieve a set standard in vocabulary in a definite time-frame.

What do you call Warren Buffet for his generous donation to see the people he loves in a better form? Or the scientists who work day and night to send the satellites successfully into space? Philanthropist and Workaholics of course!! These are one-word substitutes that capitalize on brevity and make our conversation or writing skills go a notch higher. They also provide an interesting history into the words thus making learning a joyous experience.

A few simple techniques like learning the words in a wider context, knowing the affixes, grouping the words into a similar shade pattern, understanding the root words and gaining access to one-word substitutes hold the master key to the rich treasure house of vocabulary.

I quote here what one of the characters in a movie says about the wonder of the word. "Words and letters hold the secrets of the universe. That in their shapes and sounds I could find everything, could see beyond myself to something special….. perfect".
Published date : 08 Aug 2015 05:37PM

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