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Not to climb on a soapbox, so to speak, but I have a “thing” about texting, and “textese,” if you will. While it is much faster to abbreviate words when texting, it is sadly contributing to a rapidly shrinking vocabulary for much of the cell phone generation at large.  Putting aside the fact that a text message cannot convey voice tone, pitch, sense stress or modulation that is normally heard in verbal speech, MUCH more is lost by the abbreviation of words in trying to convey thoughts and meanings.

This turned my mind to the written word itself, to things like vocabulary, language, complexities of thought and speech patterns…so many things that have been lost in this day and age. It’s ironic that authors like Jane Austen and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would be popular in this day and age when they wrote in what is nearly a lost art form of writing. There are verbal flourishes, richness of texture and tone in the verbiage that they used. Why can’t that be recaptured?  There is no reason it can’t be. All it will take is rediscovering some of that richness of vocabulary that has been forgotten. With that in mind, here is a list of words that everyone should absolutely know. :

 

1. Abhorrent:
1. “repugnant: arousing strong feelings of repugnance or disapproval”
2. “incompatible: incompatible or conflicting with something (literary)”
The odor in his apartment was abhorrent.

2. Masticate:
1. “to grind and pulverize food inside the mouth, using the teeth and jaws”
2. “grind to pulp: to grind or crush something until it turns to pulp”
Be sure to masticate thoroughly before swallowing.

3. Paradigm:
1. “typical example: a typical example of something”
2. “model that forms basis of something: an example that serves as a pattern or model for something, especially one that forms the basis of a methodology or theory”
3. “set of all forms of word: a set of word forms giving all of the possible inflections of a word”
4. “relationship of ideas to one another: in the philosophy of science, a generally accepted model of how ideas relate to one another, forming a conceptual framework within which scientific research is carried out”
The heiress who has become famous for being infamous is the paradigm of celebutantes.

4. Disseminate: “to distribute or spread something, especially information, widely, or become widespread”
Some publications may not want to disseminate rumors, but many tabloids make it their primary business.

5. Promulgate:
1. “declare something officially: to proclaim or declare something officially, especially to publicize formally that a law or decree is in effect”
2. “make known: to make something widely known”
The City Council has approved the regulation and will promulgate it soon.

6. Pestiferous:
1. “annoying: troublesome or annoying”
2. “causing infectious disease: breeding or spreading a virulently infectious disease”
3. “corrupting: evil and corrupting (formal)”
“The pestiferous mosquitoes enveloped the campers as they sat around their campfire–a persistent annoyance in an otherwise pleasant evening.

7. Ostentatious: “marked by a vulgar display of wealth and success designed to impress people”
They were actually deep in debt, but their ostentatious parties were the talk of the neighborhood.

8. Sternutatory: “causing or resulting in sneezing”
Cat dander is sternutatory to me.

9. Salutary:
1. “producing or contributing to a beneficial effect; beneficial; advantageous”
2. “wholesome; healthful; promoting health”
“False facts are highly injurious to the progress of science, for they often endure long; but false views, if supported by some evidence, do little harm, for every one takes a salutary pleasure in proving their falseness.” — Charles Darwin

10. Pugnacious: “having a quarrelsome or combative nature: truculent”
He was pugnacious, frequently landing himself in detention for fighting at recess.

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Knowing the words isn’t quite enough. Now they must be woven together to present a rich tapestry, resplendent with colorful imagery and sharp wit. Part of this, is knowing which tense to use for each word. Is it the past, present or future? Here are some examples:

“Pass” can be either a verb or a noun:
“Do not pass the problem on to me.”
“We crossed the mountain pass in a blizzard.”

“Past” can be an adjective:
“I fondly recall past family dinners”,
a noun…
“The past is over and done with”,
an adverb…
“She ran past”,
or a preposition meaning “beyond”…
“Do not fill the glass past half” is the same as “Do not fill the glass beyond half.”

As a preposition, “past” also applies in cases like time…
“It’s half-past two”,
space…
“I walked past the office”,
influence…
“I’m past caring about the problem”,
and amount or degree…
“He can’t count past ten without taking off his shoes”.

Some students confuse “past” and “passed.” Many English verbs used to form the past tense by adding t, and some of us still use those forms. For example:

learn/learnt
burn/burnt
lean/leant
bend/bent
lend/lent
leave/left

No doubt at some point “correct” English required us to write:
“I past the problem on to him.” But at some later point, “passed” became the, um, past tense, and “past” became all those various parts of speech.

All it would take is some thought, some effort, some vocabulary research…but wouldn’t it be worth it when it comes to reading the final result?