Best way to expand my vocabulary?

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simplesauce
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Best way to expand my vocabulary?

Postby simplesauce » Sun Mar 19, 2017 11:31 pm

I've tried books, using Vocab apps on my phone, etc. I would like to know more words to sound more intelligent and express myself better. What do you suggest I use to expand my vocabulary? Thank you.

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corner559
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Re: Best way to expand my vocabulary?

Postby corner559 » Sun Mar 19, 2017 11:35 pm

Lots and lots and lots of reading. And not trashy novels but more academically oriented content.

I might try picking a subject of interest to you and then try reading an academic peer-reviewed journal in that subject. You'll find an entirely new language and way of using words that is particular to that subject area.

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Phineas J. Whoopee
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Re: Best way to expand my vocabulary?

Postby Phineas J. Whoopee » Sun Mar 19, 2017 11:49 pm

I agree with corner559. Read. Read challenging material. Read stuff you might think sounds boring. Don't take the Cliff's Notes shortcut. Work your way through it.

And write.

Christopher Marlowe's plays. Edmund Burke's essays. Darwin's The Voyage of the Beagle. Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations. Hans Morgenthau's Politics Among Nations.

It will take a long time.

PJW
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NewbyDoobyDoo
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Re: Best way to expand my vocabulary?

Postby NewbyDoobyDoo » Sun Mar 19, 2017 11:54 pm

Couple thoughts:

Reading is great, but there's something to be said for hearing new words if your intent is to speak them. A TV show or podcast that features academics, scientists, authors, etc. might have words those interested in those subjects would want to learn.

Also, crossword puzzles. Look at today's answers next to yesterday's clues.

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whodidntante
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Re: Best way to expand my vocabulary?

Postby whodidntante » Mon Mar 20, 2017 12:03 am

Local universities often have free speeches and seminars you can attend. Go to those if the material is even slightly interesting to you. Also, start using a thesaurus to help you find words that more precisely fit your meaning.

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Re: Best way to expand my vocabulary?

Postby daveydoo » Mon Mar 20, 2017 12:11 am

simplesauce wrote: I would like to know more words to sound more intelligent and express myself better. What do you suggest I use to expand my vocabulary? Thank you.


Respectfully, it's not bigger words but rather how they're organized. There are razor-sharp folks at many conferences I attend that ask incredibly incisive questions and make great observations. Although they impress me every time, I actually can't recall if any of them have a big vocabulary. To sound more intelligent, listen more and talk less -- you'll get more time to formulate your questions and your opinions, and organize your thoughts. Your original question sounded pretty intelligent to me.

Oh, and even easier: if you truly just want to sound smart, agree with and flatter the other person -- they'll think you're a genius.

If you want a bigger working vocabulary, word lists are useless, imo -- you'll end up using the words just. slightly. wrong. (That said, I studied vocab for SATs many, many years ago and it was a great help to me forever, but my brain won't do that type of thing anymore.) For working vocab, you need interaction with people who use a bigger vocabulary. Agree with others about reading. And maybe opt for media pitched at a higher educational level -- like NPR, WSJ, NYT, etc.

But I think the importance of "big words" in conversation is over-rated -- and can even distance you from the folks you're trying to impress. Now, a monocle on the other hand... :happy

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celia
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Re: Best way to expand my vocabulary?

Postby celia » Mon Mar 20, 2017 4:22 am

See if your local library has some back issues of Reader's Digest (a monthly magazine). The stories are easy to read and each issue has a vocabulary quiz page. After you "guess" your answers, they tell you the correct answer and why. (Warning: Some of the words are words I've never come across before, but most I've heard without being sure of their precise/exact meaning.)

I would also start with learning about word roots, prefixes, and suffixes:
https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss ... word+roots

If English is not your first language, some of these kid's workbooks might help. On Amazon, you can "look inside" many of the books (after clicking on the picture of the book) and see if the inside pages interest you. If you have kids or know any around grades 4 through 8, you could go through these books together.

Once you understand roots, prefixes, and suffixes, you will know what many words mean, even if you have never heard them used before.

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Re: Best way to expand my vocabulary?

Postby Valuethinker » Mon Mar 20, 2017 4:39 am

simplesauce wrote:I've tried books, using Vocab apps on my phone, etc. I would like to know more words to sound more intelligent and express myself better. What do you suggest I use to expand my vocabulary? Thank you.



Reading is important. I learned most of my "large words" by reading, so of course my pronounication was hysterical. My spelling still is ;-).

Some types of TV shows tend to have better language. PBS for example.

In America, National Public Radio is exceptional. All Things Considered. Their money show. Some political speeches-- the previous US president is exceptional in this regard. BBC Radio 4 here has "A Book at Bedtime". If you can get round copyright restrictions, then BBC Radio 4 podcasts are great-- shows like "In these Times". See if you can access them via the web.

There are classes in communication you can take. eg Business English. It helps to know what area you want to communicate better in.

To write better you really need to be in some kind of situation (classroom or online) where you have to write and submit every week. Then your pieces are critiqued at the next session. My spouse has done several of these-- hard work, but you learn a lot.

Look up communications type courses at your local community college. Also if there are any MOOC courses on same - look at Coursera for example.

Does Khan Academy have anything? You have to pay for The Great Courses, but your local library may have some. And in my experience they have been uniformly excellent.

If you are reading, and when you don't know a word you write it down and then look it up, you will find that your vocabulary naturally expands.

I find, generally, that "worthy books" or literature don't hold my interest. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austin) for example. However if there has been a good tv adaptation (or one on radio! Again BBC) then I can read the novel with more interest-- the show helps me to visualize the characters.

Generally you want to go with fairly modern fiction because language changes over time. I am all for great writers, but even Huckleberry Finn poses language challenges and that novel is c 150 years old.

Certain authors write well but are entertaining, "popular" fiction. Graham Greene. John Le Carre (spy thrillers). John Wyndham (science fiction). Also Michael Chabon, say (variety of stuff, but things like the Yiddish Policeman's Union are really good). Richard Price.

Raymond Chandler (thrillers, his detective Philip Marlowe in 1930s & 40s LA) is just exquisite language. Watch The Big Sleep with Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall to see what I mean. However Chandler was inventing the street language of LA in the 1930s, and that means it is not the English that we speak (still debated whether it is actually how people spoke then).

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shmidds
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Re: Best way to expand my vocabulary?

Postby shmidds » Mon Mar 20, 2017 4:44 am

Read books on a kindle and look up words you don't know as you read.

lgs88
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Re: Best way to expand my vocabulary?

Postby lgs88 » Mon Mar 20, 2017 4:51 am

Read. I gently disagree with recommendation above that you focus your attention on "academic" writing -- it is often leaden and written for a specialist audience.

Maybe your goal ought not be to just expand your vocabulary. Rather, you should aim to improve your English fluency. Even for us native speakers, there's always room to improve.

Try Vladimir Nabokov. Speak, Memory is his memoir, and I think it's better than Lolita. More than any other author, he made me aware of the possibilities of the English language. Ironically, his first languages were Russian and French! Also consider William Safire, the now-deceased language columnist for the New York Times. His columns were great. For a short read, try George Orwell's short essay "Politics and the English Language".
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njay73
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Re: Best way to expand my vocabulary?

Postby njay73 » Mon Mar 20, 2017 5:56 am

simplesauce wrote:I've tried books, using Vocab apps on my phone, etc. I would like to know more words to sound more intelligent and express myself better. What do you suggest I use to expand my vocabulary? Thank you.


I have found, Princton Review serise ( CD/Audio version) interesting and very helfull, if you have not already tried. Comments here are also very valuable. Key is not just knowing, but ability use right word at right time.
https://www.amazon.com/Word-Smart-Build ... 0679745890.

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Re: Best way to expand my vocabulary?

Postby livesoft » Mon Mar 20, 2017 6:24 am

Get a tear-off calendar with vocabulary words. One word a day is 365 words a year.
https://www.amazon.com/Words-Year-Page- ... 0761188169

The difference between these and a phone app is that there is piece of paper that ends up in strange places after you use it.

And you can memorize it while eating your breakfast oatmeal.
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Re: Best way to expand my vocabulary?

Postby cherijoh » Mon Mar 20, 2017 6:36 am

NewbyDoobyDoo wrote:Couple thoughts:

Reading is great, but there's something to be said for hearing new words if your intent is to speak them. A TV show or podcast that features academics, scientists, authors, etc. might have words those interested in those subjects would want to learn.


+1
I recommend listening to NPR - you'll improve your vocabulary and gain insight into current events! I also recommend podcasts of TED Talks.

njay73 wrote: Key is not just knowing, but ability use right word at right time.


+1
This is critical. I know a guy through a professional society who liked to pontificate using "five dollar" words that he clearly didn't understand or which he had confused with other similar sounding words. I'm sure he thought it made him sound educated, but in my opinion it came across simultaneously as snobbish AND ignorant.

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TomatoTomahto
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Re: Best way to expand my vocabulary?

Postby TomatoTomahto » Mon Mar 20, 2017 6:44 am

I'm not a native English speaker, but I read a lot earlier in life. I read for pleasure, and didn't make expanding my vocabulary a goal; it's best when it's a serendipitous byproduct of daily activity.

My kids read a lot, and often try out words that they've read but never heard. I think it's important to never mock them for mispronunciations and slightly "off" word usage. It's also important to give yourself the same respect and understanding.

Finally, I thInk that part of attaining your goal is furthered by increasing precision in your speech. You can be more precise by using a particular word, or an entire sentence, but fight against the popular trend to ever more vague language.

Dantes
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Re: Best way to expand my vocabulary?

Postby Dantes » Mon Mar 20, 2017 6:54 am

Essays - particularly older essays; go to a used bookstore and ask for collections of essays; they are usually a drug on the market and can be had cheaply. The older the better.

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tadamsmar
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Re: Best way to expand my vocabulary?

Postby tadamsmar » Mon Mar 20, 2017 7:06 am

simplesauce wrote:I've tried books, using Vocab apps on my phone, etc. I would like to know more words to sound more intelligent and express myself better. What do you suggest I use to expand my vocabulary? Thank you.


Read books and articles by William F. Buckley.

He once said "Republican Lindsay is an oxymoron" when he ran against him for NYC Mayor. (Not meant to be a political comment, just to illustrate Buckley's way with words.)

Valuethinker
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Re: Best way to expand my vocabulary?

Postby Valuethinker » Mon Mar 20, 2017 7:11 am

simplesauce wrote:I've tried books, using Vocab apps on my phone, etc. I would like to know more words to sound more intelligent and express myself better. What do you suggest I use to expand my vocabulary? Thank you.


https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/grammar

this would be a good place to start.

The thing about vocabulary is this. English has a huge vocab: 2x that of other main European languages. The reason being, as a country that was invaded many times (Romans, Anglo Saxons, Norman French) it is a language that steals its vocabulary from other languages (Robert McNeil's PBS documentary "The Story of English" makes this very clear).

Each new encounter brought new words. The Germans in the midwest gave us sauerkraut etc. The Jews in New York gave us a host of words and expressions: "who knew?" (to express surprise); kosher; schmuck; mensh; etc etc.

Writing well is not a function of using big or unusual words- -that can be willfully obfuscatory (see, I just did it; I could have said "that may simply be to make myself sound clever by confusing" ;-)). *Unless* one is writing about a technical or specific subject that has its own language-- medicine or auto repair or whatever.

It is a function of economy of expression, of expressing ideas clearly. That requires good grammar and it requires practice.

Make it a habit of reading widely. For example The New York Review of Books is quite intellectual, but the reviews give in depth understanding of topics. Or the New Yorker-- the secret there is that most of us only read 1-2 articles a week, at most, but we've all read it for the cartoons ;-).

There are online writing courses and that can help on the practice.

There are also local public speaking groups. Toastmasters comes to mind. You could attend some of their meetings and see if you like them.

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Re: Best way to expand my vocabulary?

Postby Valuethinker » Mon Mar 20, 2017 7:12 am

TomatoTomahto wrote:I'm not a native English speaker, but I read a lot earlier in life. I read for pleasure, and didn't make expanding my vocabulary a goal; it's best when it's a serendipitous byproduct of daily activity.

My kids read a lot, and often try out words that they've read but never heard. I think it's important to never mock them for mispronunciations and slightly "off" word usage. It's also important to give yourself the same respect and understanding.

Finally, I thInk that part of attaining your goal is furthered by increasing precision in your speech. You can be more precise by using a particular word, or an entire sentence, but fight against the popular trend to ever more vague language.


Well that is surprising, to say the least.

I would never have been able to detect that English was not your first language, from the way you write ;-).

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Re: Best way to expand my vocabulary?

Postby Valuethinker » Mon Mar 20, 2017 7:13 am

BTW I am aware of "Grammerly" as an online tool, but I've never used it so don't know how good it is.

It looks good, watching the ads.

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Re: Best way to expand my vocabulary?

Postby bluejello » Mon Mar 20, 2017 7:38 am

Years ago, I achieved a perfect score on both the verbal SATs and GREs using this technique:

Each time you come across a word you don't know — whether in reading or in conversation — look it up and write it down along with its definition. Then make it a point to use that word as much as possible (even if you sound like an idiot) until it belongs to you and becomes a completely natural part of your vocabulary.

To speed up this process, you need to read more widely. Seek out news sources, magazines, books, etc. in fields that are new to you and that will challenge your vocabulary.

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TomatoTomahto
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Re: Best way to expand my vocabulary?

Postby TomatoTomahto » Mon Mar 20, 2017 7:53 am

Valuethinker wrote:
TomatoTomahto wrote:I'm not a native English speaker, but I read a lot earlier in life. I read for pleasure, and didn't make expanding my vocabulary a goal; it's best when it's a serendipitous byproduct of daily activity.

My kids read a lot, and often try out words that they've read but never heard. I think it's important to never mock them for mispronunciations and slightly "off" word usage. It's also important to give yourself the same respect and understanding.

Finally, I thInk that part of attaining your goal is furthered by increasing precision in your speech. You can be more precise by using a particular word, or an entire sentence, but fight against the popular trend to ever more vague language.


Well that is surprising, to say the least.

I would never have been able to detect that English was not your first language, from the way you write ;-).

To be honest, though, I was young enough (at 8) that learning English wasn't as difficult for me as for my parents (Dad was 50). At the time, my teachers at school apparently thought that handing crayons to a child accustomed to a fountain pen, yelling very slowly ("I don't speak your language, but I'm not deaf or stupid"), and putting a smart 8-year old into kindergarten was the way to go.

I, very literally, learned English with a vengeance. Because I technically wasn't a native English speaker, and in spite of high SAT and GRE scores in English (I guess it was called the Verbal score), one college required me to take the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) to apply to grad school. I was still bitter enough that I withdrew my application in a huff.

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Re: Best way to expand my vocabulary?

Postby Rupert » Mon Mar 20, 2017 8:08 am

Sometimes people who use big words in an attempt to sound smarter actually end up sounding pompous and ridiculous. So be careful with that. The best writers and speakers use the simplest words to get their points across. It's how they string them together that matters. That said, I love interesting, seldom-used words and phrases and actually carry around a little notebook for writing them down (along with their definitions/proper context) when I run across them. I'll whip one out occasionally in conversation, emphasis on "occasionally."

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Re: Best way to expand my vocabulary?

Postby MrKnight » Mon Mar 20, 2017 8:17 am

Passive reading will only go so far in enhancing your vocabulary. Understanding the meaning of the word and using it in your own writing/speaking are two different things. If you wish to boost the vocabulary that you employ in your writings/speaking, you need to practice it on a daily basis.

Steps to boost your vocabulary:
1. Academic reading
2. Listen to strong speakers
3. Look up and write down words you encounter that you don't use regularly and their synonyms
4. Employ different words in your own writing/speaking

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Re: Best way to expand my vocabulary?

Postby The Wizard » Mon Mar 20, 2017 8:20 am

Read The New Yorker magazine on a regular basis.
And research any totally new/strange words you come across using your smartphone...
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Re: Best way to expand my vocabulary?

Postby minesweep » Mon Mar 20, 2017 8:21 am

I did a simple Internet search on how to improve one's vocabulary and found a number of suggestions.

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TomatoTomahto
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Re: Best way to expand my vocabulary?

Postby TomatoTomahto » Mon Mar 20, 2017 8:32 am

I'm not sure that academic reading is necessary or good, but non-fiction is a plus.
Read some John McPhee and Bill Bryson. Both can write about things I wouldn't ordinarily be interested in, but they are masters.
For fiction, my two favorites are Richard Russo and Paul Auster. Simple but precise language.

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Re: Best way to expand my vocabulary?

Postby prudent » Mon Mar 20, 2017 8:58 am

Topic moved to Personal Consumer Issues.

TerryDMillerMBA
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Re: Best way to expand my vocabulary?

Postby TerryDMillerMBA » Mon Mar 20, 2017 9:33 am

bluejello wrote:Years ago, I achieved a perfect score on both the verbal SATs and GREs using this technique:

Each time you come across a word you don't know — whether in reading or in conversation — look it up and write it down along with its definition. Then make it a point to use that word as much as possible (even if you sound like an idiot) until it belongs to you and becomes a completely natural part of your vocabulary.

To speed up this process, you need to read more widely. Seek out news sources, magazines, books, etc. in fields that are new to you and that will challenge your vocabulary.



This is just about exactly what I started to do years ago. I resisted that urge to "let it slide" when I came across a word or even an idiom I didn't know, barring technical jargon I didn't care to have in-depth knowledge concerning.

As was stated earlier, the point of verbal communication is to COMMUNICATE your ideas, so, if that "big" word would confuse someone, then you would use something else. I used to joke with people that I spoke a few foreign languages, and then I would include Nerd as one of them.

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Re: Best way to expand my vocabulary?

Postby WhyNotUs » Mon Mar 20, 2017 9:45 am

My dad kept a dictionary in our bathroom. I enjoyed learning a new word with every bowel movement.
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Re: Best way to expand my vocabulary?

Postby Toons » Mon Mar 20, 2017 9:50 am

Read ,Read then
Read some More :happy
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Re: Best way to expand my vocabulary?

Postby MrKnight » Mon Mar 20, 2017 10:01 am

TomatoTomahto wrote:I'm not sure that academic reading is necessary or good, but non-fiction is a plus.
Read some John McPhee and Bill Bryson. Both can write about things I wouldn't ordinarily be interested in, but they are masters.
For fiction, my two favorites are Richard Russo and Paul Auster. Simple but precise language.


I have a accounting/finance/business background, so when I say academic reading, I am referring to Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, NY Times, CNBC, Industry/trade publishings, in addition to business textbooks and certification review materials. I think that 'Business academics' is a lot more applicable to regular daily communication, rather than say, physics academic material.
Last edited by MrKnight on Mon Mar 20, 2017 10:34 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Best way to expand my vocabulary?

Postby Watty » Mon Mar 20, 2017 10:04 am

shmidds wrote:Read books on a kindle and look up words you don't know as you read.


+1

That is what I was going to say.

At least on my version of the Kindle if you move the cursor down to the word on a page the definition of it will be displayed.

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Re: Best way to expand my vocabulary?

Postby bloom2708 » Mon Mar 20, 2017 10:41 am

One of my favorites:

Turbo Encabultor

https://biggeekdad.com/2010/11/turbo-encabulator/
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Re: Best way to expand my vocabulary?

Postby flamesabers » Mon Mar 20, 2017 10:48 am

simplesauce wrote:I've tried books, using Vocab apps on my phone, etc. I would like to know more words to sound more intelligent and express myself better. What do you suggest I use to expand my vocabulary? Thank you.


A free and convenient way to expand your vocabulary is to sign up for a "word of the day" email subscription. Dictionary.com offers a subscription like this.

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Re: Best way to expand my vocabulary?

Postby Texanbybirth » Mon Mar 20, 2017 11:09 am

Reading challenging books helps, especially since you want to "express yourself better." That doesn't always involve a big, polysyllabic word. (Think of how often you hear someone say "leverage" when they really mean "use".) Read great authors and essayists in the language you're trying to learn. Check out a little book by Mortimer Adler called "How to Read a Book", and then get busy doing it. Having a dictionary nearby (or an e-version like a Kindle) is very helpful.

I think a love of language also helps. Getting lost in the etymology of a word is a past time of mine, even if I rarely use it in conversation.

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Re: Best way to expand my vocabulary?

Postby dm200 » Mon Mar 20, 2017 11:10 am

No firsthand experience, but might Toastmasters be of help?

While I never attained fluency in a foreign language, I have studied 3 different ones (Latin in High School, German in College and Russian later) and my experieice is that study of another language helps in expanding knowledge of English.

My opinion is that just learning words is not very helpful; you need to hear them used in ways that are relevant to what you do (or want to do). "Correct" (gramatically) use of many words in the wrong context can create a bad impression.

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Re: Best way to expand my vocabulary?

Postby dm200 » Mon Mar 20, 2017 11:21 am

dm200 wrote:No firsthand experience, but might Toastmasters be of help?
While I never attained fluency in a foreign language, I have studied 3 different ones (Latin in High School, German in College and Russian later) and my experieice is that study of another language helps in expanding knowledge of English.
My opinion is that just learning words is not very helpful; you need to hear them used in ways that are relevant to what you do (or want to do). "Correct" (gramatically) use of many words in the wrong context can create a bad impression.


A local case in this area was a public official who used the perfectly fine English language word "Niggardly" in some kind of public statement. His boss, who was much less literate and educated in a relevant way, abruptly fired the guy (technically put so much pressure on him to resign) for using a "racial slur" http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/lo ... 020499.htm

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Re: Best way to expand my vocabulary?

Postby dm200 » Mon Mar 20, 2017 11:37 am

Even in the US, there may be regional differences is the use of vocabulary by native speakers of English.

Back in my childhood, for example, this is a sentence I (or someone in my family) might have said:

[It is 12:00 Noon] "Get up off the Davenport and come to have dinner. We are having white hots and pop."

If I said this now, in the area where I live, no one would understand me.

Today, in the identical circumstance, I would say:

[It is 12:00 Noon] "Get up off the sofa and come to have lunch. We are having hot dogs and soda".

In our family, the noon meal was "dinner" and the evening meal was "Supper"

A "Davenport" (from an old brand name) was a sofa or couch.

"Pop" was the local name for soda.

Hot dogs came in white or red. (white was a very local product)

"Hots" was a local term for "hot dogs"

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Re: Best way to expand my vocabulary?

Postby fishmonger » Mon Mar 20, 2017 11:44 am

shmidds wrote:Read books on a kindle and look up words you don't know as you read.


+1. My father in law was a house painter, but by any measure a very educated man. Any book he read he carried a dictionary alongside it. I started doing the same

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Re: Best way to expand my vocabulary?

Postby flamesabers » Mon Mar 20, 2017 11:46 am

dm200 wrote:Even in the US, there may be regional differences is the use of vocabulary by native speakers of English.

Back in my childhood, for example, this is a sentence I (or someone in my family) might have said:

[It is 12:00 Noon] "Get up off the Davenport and come to have dinner. We are having white hots and pop."

If I said this now, in the area where I live, no one would understand me.

Today, in the identical circumstance, I would say:

[It is 12:00 Noon] "Get up off the sofa and come to have lunch. We are having hot dogs and soda".

In our family, the noon meal was "dinner" and the evening meal was "Supper"

A "Davenport" (from an old brand name) was a sofa or couch.

"Pop" was the local name for soda.

Hot dogs came in white or red. (white was a very local product)

"Hots" was a local term for "hot dogs"


Interesting. I'm not familiar with a Davenport or white hots, but I do know that pop and soda are interchangeable. :)

I always thought dinner and supper were terms for the evening meal, with the former being used for a more formal meal. I grew up thinking the noon meal was lunch.

carolinaman
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Re: Best way to expand my vocabulary?

Postby carolinaman » Mon Mar 20, 2017 11:54 am

daveydoo wrote:
simplesauce wrote: I would like to know more words to sound more intelligent and express myself better. What do you suggest I use to expand my vocabulary? Thank you.


Respectfully, it's not bigger words but rather how they're organized. There are razor-sharp folks at many conferences I attend that ask incredibly incisive questions and make great observations. Although they impress me every time, I actually can't recall if any of them have a big vocabulary. To sound more intelligent, listen more and talk less -- you'll get more time to formulate your questions and your opinions, and organize your thoughts. Your original question sounded pretty intelligent to me.

Oh, and even easier: if you truly just want to sound smart, agree with and flatter the other person -- they'll think you're a genius.

If you want a bigger working vocabulary, word lists are useless, imo -- you'll end up using the words just. slightly. wrong. (That said, I studied vocab for SATs many, many years ago and it was a great help to me forever, but my brain won't do that type of thing anymore.) For working vocab, you need interaction with people who use a bigger vocabulary. Agree with others about reading. And maybe opt for media pitched at a higher educational level -- like NPR, WSJ, NYT, etc.

But I think the importance of "big words" in conversation is over-rated -- and can even distance you from the folks you're trying to impress. Now, a monocle on the other hand... :happy


+1. I totally agree. Great use of words is not the big rarely used words but a good command of everyday language. After all, we want to be good communicators.

I read a lot of Internet stuff. I frequently encounter words I am not familiar with or do not know the meaning of. I keep a separate Chrome window open to search for the meanings of those words. I am often surprised that I thought I knew the meaning of the word but did not. Sometimes it seems the author of the article did not know it either!

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FraggleRock
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Another way to expand vocabulary

Postby FraggleRock » Mon Mar 20, 2017 12:43 pm

Learn a foreign language.
One with numerous English cognates.
French, Spanish, Portuguese come to mind.

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celia
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Re: Best way to expand my vocabulary?

Postby celia » Mon Mar 20, 2017 12:50 pm

WhyNotUs wrote:My dad kept a dictionary in our bathroom. . .

My parents had a lot of kids and one year my dad decided we should upgrade our dinner conversation by introducing us to "man words" (adult language). He would pull out a quarter each day and, starting with the youngest, go up the line to see who could tell us what the word meant and use it in a sentence. The first person who did would get the money. We paid attention. With my own kids, we always used adult language, so our kids' vocabulary was larger than their friends' vocabularies.

Dantes wrote:Essays - particularly older essays; go to a used bookstore and ask for collections of essays; they are usually a drug on the market and can be had cheaply. The older the better.

This suggestion is for those who already have at least an average vocabulary, in my opinion. It is more likely to introduce you to archaic words (words no longer used). Outdated words are good for crossword puzzles, reading historical sources, and for time travel, though! Just as new words are added to our society's vocabulary each year, other words fade away.

TomatoTomahto wrote:My kids read a lot, and often try out words that they've read but never heard. I think it's important to never mock them for mispronunciations and slightly "off" word usage. It's also important to give yourself the same respect and understanding.

This is an excellent suggestion.

When my kids started to use "bad words" (swearing, gutter talk), I pulled them aside and explained exactly what the words meant and that they were not appropriate for family use. There are different words for different situations. That pretty much put a lid on foul language, especially at home, although I suspect they used them away from home when I was not there.

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Phineas J. Whoopee
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Re: Best way to expand my vocabulary?

Postby Phineas J. Whoopee » Mon Mar 20, 2017 1:01 pm

dm200 wrote:Even in the US, there may be regional differences is the use of vocabulary by native speakers of English.
...

Perfectly true.
PJW

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knpstr
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Re: Best way to expand my vocabulary?

Postby knpstr » Mon Mar 20, 2017 1:07 pm

simplesauce wrote:I've tried books, using Vocab apps on my phone, etc. I would like to know more words to sound more intelligent and express myself better. What do you suggest I use to expand my vocabulary? Thank you.


While developing one's vocabulary is a nice goal (and you've been given good advice on how to expand it: read), don't be fooled into thinking that one sounds more intelligent simply by using more obscure words.

:beer
Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking. -Marcus Aurelius

Tanelorn
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Re: Best way to expand my vocabulary?

Postby Tanelorn » Mon Mar 20, 2017 1:08 pm

simplesauce wrote:I've tried books, using Vocab apps on my phone, etc. I would like to know more words to sound more intelligent and express myself better. What do you suggest I use to expand my vocabulary? Thank you.

Expand? Don't you want to embiggen it? ;)

new2bogle
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Re: Best way to expand my vocabulary?

Postby new2bogle » Mon Mar 20, 2017 1:11 pm

Read "The New Yorker"

Even the restaurant reviews are superbly written. I have also learned a great deal from the various articles. It's the only magazine I will read.

Dottie57
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Re: Best way to expand my vocabulary?

Postby Dottie57 » Mon Mar 20, 2017 1:12 pm

simplesauce wrote:I've tried books, using Vocab apps on my phone, etc. I would like to know more words to sound more intelligent and express myself better. What do you suggest I use to expand my vocabulary? Thank you.

Using big words does not make you sound smart. Speaking clearily and precisely with good grammar will work wonders.

Maybe Toastmasters would be good for you.

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dm200
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Re: Best way to expand my vocabulary?

Postby dm200 » Mon Mar 20, 2017 1:21 pm

Interesting. I'm not familiar with a Davenport or white hots, but I do know that pop and soda are interchangeable. :)
I always thought dinner and supper were terms for the evening meal, with the former being used for a more formal meal. I grew up thinking the noon meal was lunch
.

"White" hot dogs are still available in Western NY state. It has something to do with German immigrants who brought such cured meat to the area from that area of Germany a long time ago. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_hot

I recall, as a young child, visiting some folks we knew that lived in Canada. They referred to a couch or sofa as a "Chesterfield". [another old time brand of sofa or couch]

In a farming environment, with long days (starting before dawn) and hard physical work, the noon meal was often the largest meal of the day and was, commonly, called "Dinner". The evening meal, although hearty, was slightly smaller and was called "Supper" [as in the "Last Supper" not the "Last Dinner"]. A more widespread use of "Dinner" for a midday (or early afternoon) meal is the term "Sunday Dinner".

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dm200
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Re: Another way to expand vocabulary

Postby dm200 » Mon Mar 20, 2017 1:23 pm

FraggleRock wrote:Learn a foreign language.
One with numerous English cognates.
French, Spanish, Portuguese come to mind.


as well as "classic" languages like Greek and Latin. So many medical terms are drawn from Greek and Latin. "Television" comes from "tele" (Greek) and "vision" (Latin). Medical/health terms are drawn from Greek and Latin.


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