Friday, June 25, 2010

How do you fertilize your vocabulary?

One forgets words as one forgets names. One's vocabulary needs constant fertilizing or it will die.

This quote is from Evelyn Waugh, one of the great English novelists of last century. So he is a first language English speaker - who forgets words, and who believes that you need to continue to fertilize your vocabulary. What an interesting metaphor! What does it mean? And how exactly do you go about fertilizing your vocab?

For me, I guess reading is what fuels my vocabulary. I was reflecting the other day on how much my daughter's writing has improved since she has left school/study and been reading material that she chooses for herself. It's not just her writing, it's her vocab as well that has really developed. Having the right word to use in the right situation is a real joy, and gives you so many more ways of expressing yourself... as the quote below suggests.

I used to think I was poor. Then they told me I wasn't poor, I was needy. They told me it was self-defeating to think of myself as needy, I was deprived. Then they told me underprivileged was overused. I was disadvantaged. I still don't have a dime. But I have a great vocabulary.

Jules Feiffer - cartoon caption

So tell us how you 'feed' your vocab? Are you deliberate about it - regular feeding, or do you just do it occasionally when you remember? Feel free to add a comment to this posting.