Saturday, January 19, 2008

Shades of communication

Don't you just love words? I do. I'm sure probably some of my love of words comes from being a writer. Or a voracious reader. Or an English teacher. At any rate I love words. My children have a three syllable rule: if a word has more than three syllables, I have to use it sparingly. Or preferably, not at all. I like the way some words sound. Take for instance, the word onomatopoeia. This word just looks and sounds fun. It means words that read just like they sound. An example would be buzz or bang. But the word onomatopoeia is fun to say all by itself. It's like a verbal roller coaster.
I also like other words, such as acquiesce. That one just sounds neat. I also like convivial. If you are convivial, you might also be gregarious and vivacious. See? just fun words.
When we cover vocabulary in my classes, I'll often have the class make up sentences using the words on their vocabulary list. Or I'll even have then carry on a conversation using the vocabulary words. Every sentence has to have a vocabulary word in it, and each sentence has to be pertinent to the conversation at hand. One of my classes really took to that game, but they put their own unique twist on it. They gave words their own meaning. For instance, one girl told another student to "shut his veranda." She also threatened to inhabit someone who was irritating her. Her comments were amusing, even though they made absolutely no sense.
When putting together words, though, I have one all time favorite phrase. My kids roll their eyes every time they hear me say it. Occasionally I will point out that I am "imminently cognizant of the gramatical parameters." I can't take credit for this phrase, though. I read it in Apollyon, one of the books in the Left Behind series by Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye. A self-proclaimed "clod-kicker" revealed that he had graduated salutatorian of his class and was imminently cognizant of the grammatical parameters. "I just talk this way 'cuz it's easier."
I use my big words sparingly because it's easier and innocuous. After all, I'm not insensate. Many people feel these words are incongruous to casual conversation. In many cases they may be relevant, but I would never want to abash anyone with an ostentatious display of affectation. So I guess I'll just drop back to the three syllable or less rule. After all, I would not want anyone to feel repugnance toward me because my vocabulary caused them chagrin.

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