5/03/2013

Important Vocabulary for Foreign Peoples (2)

As promised, yet wholly unexpected, here are some more important words to learn and use frequently. That is, here are some more words that are important, not words that are more important, unless you’re comparing them to other words and phrases like “paradigm” and “action item” and “synergy.” No, scratch that - here are more words that are more important than most other words you will hear excreted at work today. The words are fun, sound good, and unlike typical business vocabulary, actually have meaning.

Read them. Learn them. Use them. Often.

serendipity: I like this word not because of its meaning as much as its fun, percolating sound and its sheer density of syllables. Look at it, five syllables in just eleven letters. This word means business. Which is to say, its meaning has nothing to do with business, but it’s serious. Like business.
Ah, never mind. Use the word.

subtly: The best part of this word is how it looks completely different than it sounds. It’s like a good spy, or a great actor. (Like Miranda Richardson, who can play the hilarious Queen on Black Adder and a terrifying killer in The Crying Game, not Adam Sandler, who always seems to play Adam Sandler.)
Silent b? Really? Since when was that a rule of English? It’s this disconnect with all rules that we thought we learned that makes it fun.

pompous: I like the imagery of this word, somehow the alliteration of p’s makes it’s meaning clearer, especially if you build up a good mouthful of air before you expel it, as if the word just couldn’t be bothered coming out until it was resigned to consort with the rest of the sentence.

ghastly: I like dated words, words that are covered in the dust of disuse after falling out of common parlance sometime around the end of the Victorian age. My wife, when I met her, spoke in Jane Austen paragraphs (the funny and caustic ones, not the romantic ones). It’s words like ghastly that cause awkward pauses in conversation as all of your listeners page vocabulary in from disk to parse the sentence.
Also, it just sounds great in context, and is typically used to refer to fashion: “That hat was ridiculous, but paled in comparison to his absolutely ghastly shirt.”

remnant: I like this word for its unusual consonant combination, causing a shift from m to n in mid-pronunciation, like that chili-pepper chocolate bar that changes from sweet to pain in the same bite. It lacks some of the obvious fun alliteration of some of these other words, but has a nice meditative sound, like you might hear uttered in the chant of a monk, or a serial killer.
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