Tuesday, October 8, 2013


The Execupundit has been entertaining and, in a sneaky fashion, educating us lately with his series "Language to Remember and Use" (a few samples are here, here, and here).

When I was a sophomore in  high school, I remember reading studies linking large vocabularies with higher paying jobs.  It seemed there was often a direct correlation between the number of words a person knew and could use correctly and appropriately and the amount of money they might be paid for their work.  Thinking that was a classic case of "knowledge is good,"  I purchased a paper-back copy of Funk and Lewis's 30 Days To A More Powerful Vocabulary. Can't say that I mastered the book (originally copyrighted in 1943), but I can say I still have a copy of it on my shelves.

A quick consultation with the Oracle Google did not turn up those old studies, probably too old.  It did turn up this essay on the importance of a large vocabulary, and the impact of educational philosophies on same, however.  Here is a wee excerpt:

"Later, another Cornell scholar, the sociologist Donald Hayes, showed that the decline of the verbal SAT scores was indeed correlated with a dumbing-down of American schoolbooks. Following the lead of the great literacy scholar Jeanne Chall, Hayes found that publishers, under the influence of progressive educational theories, had begun to use simplified language and smaller vocabularies. Hayes demonstrated that the dilution of knowledge and vocabulary, rather than poverty, explained most of the test-score drop."

If Michael doesn't mind,  I may copy him (again) and start a new series on "fun with the language."  If I did such a thing, I might start with the word "Simulacrum: noun:  an insubstantial form or semblance of something."

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