Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Building Stronger Vocabulary

by Deanna Henderson

Whether it's in your writing or your own personal reading, vocabulary is important. It gives you the ability to communicate your thoughts, ideas and emotions in a precise and effective way. Reduces repetitive word use and ability to make finer distinctions. You are able to understand other vocabulary better. i.e. My husband speaks Spanish fluently, one benefit, he tells me, is that he now understands English better because of his understanding of another language.

A vast vocabulary comes before success and not because of it, therefore, if we are hoping to become successful as authors (and I am), it stands to reason that we should have a boundless number of words at our disposal. So how can you increase your own vocabulary?

There are a lot of different ways. As children we learned our vocabulary from our parents. We spoke as they did, mimicking the words we heard and inferring meaning from the sentences our parents used. In my own family my husband is constantly asking me to "dumb it down" to which I refuse. My children will learn from me and I will not change my speech patterns for the sake of simpler words. Instead I try to structure my sentences to help them decipher the meaning of a word they may not already be familiar with. I will explain a word if asked, otherwise they eventually pick up the vocabulary and I hear it from their own mouth, used correctly. :)

You can study suffixes and prefixes, root words and buying a word of the day calender. You can even get an email with a word of the day and meaning sent to you, but my personal favorite is to read. It's hard to find books that have a higher vocabulary in them these days, but when you find them they're golden.

You can write down words you are unfamiliar with and look them up, or ask others for the meaning. This method is particularly helpful for my daughter who's is in the 3rd grade. And finally you can make vocab flash cards to learn the words and meanings--takes you back to your high school/college days right? :)

I love words, even if I read a book that didn't go the way I wanted or had characters I was in conflict with, if the writing is beautiful with well chosen words that ring in my ears long after the story ends, I will reread the book for the love of the words.


Canda said...

Haahaahaa--me too: bash, bludgeon , clobber, pummel. Great post. :)

Britney Gulbrandsen said...

Great post! I really need to work on strengthening my vocabulary. Oh, and my pronunciation. My husband laughs at me and tells me, "You're such a reader," because I constantly pronounce words wrong. I can spell them. I can tell you an accurate definition. I just mispronounce them because I've only read them and never heard them out loud!

Thanks for the tips!

Donna K. Weaver said...

One of the things I enjoyed about Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure was their interesting use of vocabulary.