Monday, October 28, 2013

The Importance of Words

Today's post comes to us courtesy of "Dad" Peter Brusoe, Past International Master Councilor, Advisor with Nation's Capital DeMolay. Enjoy!

I was talking with a DeMolay and he mentioned that he had the best grade in his entire high school English class.  Not satisfied with that accomplishment, he then recounted how he did better than this student, and that student, and some other student.  My first reaction was why weren’t these students in DeMolay? My second reaction was that I cautioned him that hubris was not good for the soul.

He said, “ ‘Dad’ Brusoe, what’s hubris?”
“You have the best grade in English and you don’t know what hubris is?” I jokingly teased him.
“ ‘Dad’ Brusoe, you don’t need to have a good vocabulary to do good in English.” I was promptly informed.

 I suggested to him that you may need a good vocabulary to do well in English in a less jocular tone of voice.

For those of you who do not know, Hubris is defined as excessive pride or self-confidence.  Most frequently this quality is found in Greek tragedies and causes the downfall of a character.  We all tend to be guilty of suffering from it from time to time.   We may not use the word often, but it is a good word for scrabble as well as when you are discussing the human condition, or in SAT examination preparation.  

Perhaps the DeMolay was right.  Maybe you don’t need a good vocabulary to do well in English.  In this inane academic world focused on standardized testing we are losing part of our culture. Winston Smith would think that we’re entering the world of newspeak.  

You do need a good vocabulary to do well in life and in college.  The words you use act as signaling cues to other people about your level of education, your degree of sophistication, which books you have read, and your general interest in the world around you. 

There is nothing worse than asking someone you just met “How are you?” and they mumble “good” or “OK”

Consider for a moment the word “good.”  A lot of things are “good” but is the quality of Mom’s meatloaf the same type of good as the latest Pop song? Are they the same type of good as the last Eagles Football game?  Are they the same type of good as Keyman?

Of course not. 

Mom’s Meatloaf was savory, delicious, appetizing, succulent, tasty and mouthwatering.
The latest pop song was emotional, enjoyable, has a fun beat, is catchy, and is energetic.
The Eagle’s game was well-played, high scoring, emotional, edge of the seat excitement.
Keyman was fun, eye opening, unique experience, exhilarating, athletic.

Every year we get older the number of new words we learn decreases dramatically.  Part of this is that most popular fiction and news that we read is written at a middle school reading level.  As an organization that believes in the importance of education we should constantly be looking at improving our vocabulary.  There are two sites on the internet that you can do this. This year let us commit to learning one new word each week.

There are some great websites that help you with this, I would recommend several of them to you:

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