Monthly Archives: November 2012

Word of the week, 28th November

Contrary to what’s easily believed, I have actually been seeking out words and not just searching “fancy words” on the web (though you do get some brilliant ones).

This week came up with a few, including “painterly” and “dynamism” but I decided to focus this week on:

Curatorial

Kyur-rah-tor-ree-ul; adjective; referring to the duties of a curator, or a curator themselves.

I was sat in our student magazine office when one of the girls on the team dropped this in conversation, and mine and the editor’s faces lit up.
It’s breathed out with the “k” and rolled off the tongue with the “l”, all the while having a gentle bounce to it. Pleasant to say and, for once in a while on this blog, isn’t an insult! Unless you don’t particularly care for curators, then to be called curatorial may be insulting.

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Word of the week, 22nd November

Dissertation has been said an awful lot lately, so in some sense I’ve achieved one of my goals of this series.

Now, let’s see. The word of this week is:

Facetious

Fah-see-shus; adjective; Being inappropriately humourous, particularly in response to seriousness.

I enjoy saying this word because of the hisses in it, and you can really emphasise the “see” part of it. “Oh, now you’re just being facetious.” How wonderful that is. Like many of the words I find, it can also be said in a rather rightiously accusatory manner, brilliant when you’re in an argument.
“You facetious slubberdegullion!”

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Word of the week, 16th November

I offer my deepest apologies to the no-doubt hundreds, nay, thousands of readers of this blog, for the last two missing “Word of the week” posts, but I promise an honest explanation with this week’s.

The most joyous of words, celebrated by final year students everywhere:

Dissertation

Dis-er-tay-shun; noun; A very long piece of writing students are made to write in an attempt to torture them and break their spirits. An essay or thesis.

It is taking so awfully long to get mine done. I have the analysis down, or at least in theory, it’s just getting the actual words typed out that’s taking some time. Oh, and the fact people keep getting priority on the book I need in the library, so I’ve ended up buying it online which will arrive next week.
Still, I remain hopeful that I can get it done by Christmas and that it will actually be consistent and coherent!

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Dictionary and thesaurus shame

I use dictionaries and thesauruses constantly. Some people assume that if you’re well-spoken and have a good grasp on grammar and spelling that you must have a fantastic vocabulary and impeccable spelling, too. ┬áThis may be true for many people, but I am willing to be totally honest and say that this is not so for me.

A lot of my friends were very enthusiastic readers as children. I didn’t mind reading, but found it more of a chore, mainly due to being unable to get into a comfortable position for it (though I don’t understand that now, I’d walk and read if I didn’t bump into so many things trying). I became more interested in boys and make up in my early teens to care enough to read Harry Potter or Artemis Fowl, and I feel bad for my then-self that I never found something I could really get into through my own interest. There was one book I read in my late teens which I’d bought just as a back-up for unexpected boredom on holiday, that I ended up reading a couple of times (The Testament of Gideon Mack, if you’re interested), but that was about as much as I got into reading before last year.

My vocabulary’s not terrible, and I have a pretty decent grasp on grammar; but I still rely on dictionaries and thesauruses. Not totally, mind, but I often do a quick search of a word (making sure not to find the American spelling) just to make sure I’ve spelled it correctly and used it in the right context. Why? Because accuracy matters. If I’m not sure of something, there’s no way I’d take a risk in not checking it. And this goes for more than just spelling; the more I learn about sub-editing, the more I know to check everything, then check it all again (and I’ve still no doubt there are a few mistakes on this blog already).

Dictionary and thesaurus

So what of this post’s title, “Dictionary and thesaurus shame”? It occurred to me that using dictionaries and thesauruses to check or find out things was, to some people, shameful. Why?! Because, I believe, admitting you don’t know something is a big source of shame today, especially if it’s to do with your field of work.

So much pressure is put on school children with numerous tests and encouragement to be in a higher level set for classes, to fail a test or not make a higher set makes you feel shameful, to admit you don’t know something by having to look it up makes you feel shameful, to be corrected exposes your lack of knowledge and makes you feel shameful. This shame felt throughout your education creates a vicious circle that the British education system doesn’t seem to see or understand. But that’s another moan for another time.

So this, dear reader, is why I feel no shame in looking things up or asking what they mean, and regularly using dictionaries and thesauruses. Shame does not lie in not knowing, only in resisting to learn.

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