Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Wednesday Words

If you remember a little while ago, I told you that I began keeping track (well, sorta) of new vocabulary words that I run across in my reading. This past weekend I decided I would try to post a few every Wednesday as Wednesday Words.

Carol at MagistraMater has really taken off with these vocabulary words! Carol has just posted her recently accumulated list. I love to see words that are new to others just like I love to see what books others are reading.

The Story behind these Words
I started reading Drums, one of my chosen Spring Reading Challenge books, in February. The reason I wanted to read it was because David McCullough said in The Course of Human Events that reading Drums in school began to create a love of history in him. So, I had to read it! (If you've not heard the audio The Course of Human Events, you must! Hearing McCullough audibly relate his story is worth the cost of the CD. If you really don't want to spring for it, a transcript of the address is available here. Just try to imagine McCullough's voice speaking the words as you read.)

My copy of Drums alerts me that it is a Scribner School Paperback making me think it is one of those watered-down, weak school books similar to those that were common back in the '60s. I flipped to the back (that's how I start a new book--at the back; I'll blog about how I begin new books one day) to find a hefty "study guide." This study guide, though, is unlike any I've encountered in "school" issue books. Then I notice that the original copyright date is 1925. Well, it might be better than I thought.

And yes, it was much better than I thought, despite the fact that it took be forever to read its 400+ pages. I could not stay awake to read this book. Or any book. After one or two pages, the book promptly fell in my face as I dropped off to sleep. But, I finally finished it last week.

Remember I said this was a "School Paperback" book? And I expected watered-down writing? Well, there is nothing watered-down with this book. The vocabulary in Drums had me stretching my arm over to the opposite side of my nightstand to grab my handy-dandy electronic dictionary. I had to reach many times. At least before I fell asleep.

And here's why. Here are just a few of the standard words from this "School Paperback." Books aren't written like this anymore. Not for fifth or sixth grade. Or eleventh or twelfth grade for that matter.
caparison - horse accouterments; a decorative harness

objurgation - harsh criticism; rebuke

salubrious - healthy

phrenetic - frenzied

lugubrious - mournful

slattern - untidy

pusillanimous - cowardly (I love saying that word pusillanimous!)

raconteur - a person who excels in telling anecdotes

diseuse - a woman who is a skilled reciter

tocsin - a warning signal

truculent - harsh, contentious
(I have to admit that I stopped keeping up with the new vocabulary after the first 125 pages because there were just so many words I didn't know. These above words came within those first pages.)

How the depth of school material has changed.


DebD said...

I have always had an affinity for etymology and your list is quite a gem. Some of those words I'd never heard of before and one I had defined incorrectly.

Thanks for the two book ideas. Jotting them down now.

Deb on the Run

Carol in Oregon said...

Another book for my list. I love book webs - finding out what favorite authors read, etc.

I'm looking forward to WW. I'll plan on participating when I have something to offer. When I was young I adored reading anything William F. Buckley wrote because I was bound to learn new words.

Poiema said...

It's past Wednesday, but I included a short list of words I learned from reading _The Chosen_. It is a great habit you are suggesting; really cements the learning to write the words down.

Seasonal Soundings said...

Poiema, The Chosen is on my nightstand for my next book to read as soon as I'm finished with There are No Shortcuts (Esquith), a teacher book. I love these "harmonic convergences!"