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The Benefits of Vocabulary

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It’s the beginning of a new year, and what better time than now to make an effort to increase our vocabulary? Today, the 2424 Penn Blog is taking a look at the importance of having a good vocabulary. 

Author Karen Witemeyer said,  “Read. Everything you can get your hands on. Read until words become your friends. Then when you need to find one, they will jump into your mind, waving their hands for you to pick them. And you can select whichever you like, just like a captain choosing a stickball team.”

We agree! Reading increases vocabulary, and having the right word at the right time can feel so satisfying. Reading also lends itself to improved writing skills and being well-spoken. Both traits can make a difference in real-life situations like job interviews, leadership opportunities, and promotions. 

A fun way to learn new words, besides reading regularly, is to read books about words. We’re not talking college textbooks here, but rather a ramble through the remarkable history of language with its borrowings, idiosyncrasies, and flat-out contradictions via well-written and researched guidebooks. 

One such book is rather fascinating — and at times amusing;  yes, really. Lynne Truss’ Eats, Shoots & Leaves  is one such book. It tends to solicit the laugh out loud response from readers even though it is mainly about punctuation. As one reviewer said, “If you're going to read one strict punctuation book, let it be this one. Truss is simply so entertaining, even when she's berating you over sloppy comma use. Punctuation is often overlooked, but so much of reading depends on it! A panda who eats shoots and leaves is entirely different from a panda who eats, shoots and leaves, after all.” 

Another book that can help you expand your vocabulary is Thereby Hangs a Tale by Charles Earle Funk. The root of the word school means leisure. The words hearse and rehearse come from the same root, and dunce is named after a great philosopher. Thereby Hangs a Tale: Stories of Curious Word Origins will make you see everyday words in an entirely new, much weirder light. You can read it straight through and fill up on all the strange little word histories, or savor it piece by piece, but either way, you'll pick up some truly killer pieces of word trivia.

We hope as you’re out and about in Washington, DC this month you have the opportunity to drop a newly acquired word here and there! Thanks for being a member of our apartment community.