Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Failing Vocabulary

From Washington Irving's "The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent."  Volume 1 (The Knickerbocker Press 1895), I read the short story "Rip Van Winkle".   We all know the story - but the real question is have you read it?  If so - exactly how many words did you skip over?

WOW - my vocabulary is not of 1820 literary caliber!   I decided to pick out 75 words in the 28 pages ( I estimate about 3,500 words total).  I knew (and some not very precisely) only 48 of the 75 words  below - a mere 64% -   a 'D' in English Vocabulary!

You can try it yourself:

obsequious, conciliating, pliant, termagant, amiable, impunity, insuperable, aversion, assiduity, perseverance, pestilent, patrimonial, galligaskins, incessantly, eloquence, provoked, adherent, precipitation, rubicund, junto, vehemently, approbation, august, virago, clamor, reciprocated, precipice, shagged, skulked, glen, jerkin, alacrity, torrent, peals, azure, visages, countenance, desisted, smote, flagons, quaffed, roisters, gambol, famished, perplexities, invariably, haunts, bittern, desolateness,connubial, metamorphosed, phlegm, tranquillity, bilious, haranguing, akimbo, austerity, squall, confounded, bewilderment, throng, province, corroborated, evinced, cronies, impunity, reverenced, torpor, despotism, tyranny, venerable, propitiated, vexations, beetling, chivalrous.

The key here is not to guess - or depend on context.  Just the precise definition, Ma'am.

 If you need some context here's an excerpt from Rip Van Winkle:

"I have observed that he was a simple, good-natured man; he was moreover, a kind neighbor, and an obedient, hen-pecked husband.  Indeed, to the latter circumstance might be owing that meekness of spirit which gained him such universal popularity; for those men are most apt to be obsequious and conciliating abroad, who are under the discipline of shrews at home.  Their tempers, doubtless are rendered pliant and malleable in the fiery furnace of domestic tribulation; and a curtain-lecture is worth all the sermons in the world for teaching the virtues of patience and long-suffering.  A termagant wife may therefore, in some respects, be considered a tolerable blessing; and if so Rip Van Winkle was thrice blessed.

And even if your vocabulary fails you -  here is the  real message for all you husbands out there --- :) ----- Remember "Happy Wife, Happy Life". 

PS -  Washington Irving also wrote "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow"  (in Volume 2) a favorite story and memory of D'Lane and I.

No comments:

Post a Comment