Call me crazy, but I’m pretty sure the most used word in the english language today is “like.” Everything seems to be “like” this or “like” that. You can’t even watch TV shows where the word isn’t baked into the scripts “like” chocolate chips in cookies. In this video, poet Taylor Mali does a genius job of summarizing what’s happened to utilizing a solid vocabulary in our modern day culture.
So if you” like” want to stand out from the rest of the crowd and prove yourself to be “like” more valuable, then you need to “like” step up the depth of your vocabulary. Let me explain.
Do you remember the last time you were around someone that had a better than average vocabulary? I’m a betting man you do remember because you likely perceived that person as one smart individual. You see, people are fascinated and impressed with those who either know something they don’t or can articulate something verbally in a way that makes it sound “smarter.”
Some individuals who are great at this on TV today are Bob Costas, Dick Endberg, Dr. Drew, Dr. Oz and host of others. It’s true that some people perceive a big vocabulary as arrogant and academic, but if you use your vocabulary in the correct fashion, you can avoid that debilitating stereotype.
I once bought a book called “Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell and Know.” I honestly bought the book because the cover photo looked exactly like my Great Dane, Titus. Well, I started to read the book anyway. It was written by a cognitive scientist and she used all kinds of academic terms like “apolitically,” that many people wouldn’t have the slightest clue what they meant without looking them up. There was a little overtone of, “I’m better than you” to the book and I didn’t even get past the 2nd chapter before putting it on the shelf to gather dust.
Don’t be like that woman. If you try to show the world why your vocabulary somehow makes you smarter than anyone else, you’ll only be hurting your own credibility. What a great vocabulary really allows you to do is become a great conversationalist. People will enjoy talking to you because they always feel like they are learning from you when you speak. Be humble about your use of uncommon words, but don’t be afraid to use them either.
So let’s circle back to what I first talked about at the top of this blog, the use of the word “like.” The honest to God reason most people, especially teenage girls use that word “like” as every other word in a sentence, is because they don’t know any other descriptive adjectives to articulate what they are trying to say.
So how do you get a bigger vocabulary? Its not rocket science, but READ BOOKS. The overwhelming access to TV and the internet has caused society to get away from the very thing that helped build it, good old fashioned education through reading. I don’t care if you do it on a Kindle or IPAD, but start somewhere and broaden your mind to something outside of your own little world. You’ll be amazed at what happens when you start reading on a regular basis.
There’s also other entertaining ways to build your vocabulary. Scrabble and a host of others games force you to use your noggin’ to figure out new and descriptive words. So whatever you do, don’t stay where you are at. Start reading, playing and learning! You’ll thank yourself for it later on.