on remembering words

My vocabulary is awfully small. Not that that is a particularly awful thing, it just so happens to be true. The part of my memory that retains words seems to be diminishing (along with other parts). I just can’t seem to remember new words or terminology, this in addition to my already tiny word selection set.

If you use a big word in a conversation with me, chances are that I won’t know it. Oh, I’ll ask you what it means if I feel I’m missing the gist of what you’re saying. But chances also are that I’ll forget the meaning of that word. If I’m conversing via instant messaging, I’ll probably just look up the word on dictionary.com. Sometimes, if I’m feeling really lazy, I’ll just ask (yes, even in IM). But again, this doesn’t mean that I’ll retain knowledge of that word for future use. Chances are that I’ll look it up again, and again.

I remember when I was younger, my mom gave me this book titled something like “1100 words you need to know”. I never was interested in getting through it. Knowing words for the sake of knowing words doesn’t sound like too much fun. Don’t get me wrong, I love word play and a play on words. Puns are fun. It was similar with typing speeds. Driving up your typing speed just for the sake of driving up your typing speed seems rather pointless. And I’d score poorly in any such typing tests. Not anymore though, now I type fairly fast. But my typing speed improved as a result of wanting to code faster (getting the idea out in code as fast as I think it) and wanting to respond to ICQ messages quick enough.

I don’t know if I have any such equivalent for learning new words. I seem to get along fine with the ones I already know. Most other words are probably just fancy ways of saying words already in my vocabulary, and if they’re not, then I could probably still convey the idea through a combination of words I already know. Fancy words are overrated. Why would you want to look up a thesaurus? Just so you could make other folk look up a dictionary? What’s so wrong with using the words you already know?

One of the nice side effects of a small vocabulary is that the things I say/write can naturally lend themselves to being simple. I simply avoid the complexity of complicated words. In the end, it’s probably an internal mechanism designed to keep me lazy.

Note: No words were looked up during the construction of this entry. Although, the spell check feature was used multiple times.

1 Comment

  1. @Risto – i agree. largely this was about my capacity to remember words that i don’t already know. now that i have read what epistemology means, it is very likely that i won’t remember what it means when it comes up again in another conversation.

    At what point do we say that a word is too large?

    more than four to five syllables. yes.

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