Thursday, February 4, 2016


I've been thinking a lot about vocabulary lately.  For one thing, I homeschool my granddaughter in language arts.  She's just in the fourth grade and she has a large vocabulary already so I decided to give her some vocabulary words from the S.A.T.  And then there's my own vocabulary that has grown by leaps and bounds due to my study of genetics.  It dawned on me that one learns nearly everything through words.

Not being a geneticist or even a scientist, reading advanced medical texts and academic papers left me feeling like I was missing more than I was understanding.  So I made a concerted effort to look up every word I did not know, as I came upon it.  I used my cell phone and a pocket medical dictionary to do so.  My knowledge of genetics grew as I began to understand the words in their context and it convinced me that my readers will need to at least have access to these words as well.

My second inter-library loan came through yesterday, a medical book exceeding 600 pages, and as I browsed the pertinent parts, the terms were familiar and my understanding of my topic grew.  I have always loved words.  I love their specificity, their ability to elicit feelings, their power, the funny way so many resemble their meanings.  I have a new respect for them now.  I can see how just learning the vocabulary of a new field of study opens it to understanding.

I need not be a scientist to write about genetics and my granddaughter need not be a high school student to call her grandfather cantankerous or know that bovine should elicit a moo.  Words are presents just waiting to be unwrapped.  I can't wait to learn more.

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