You Need to Find a Way to Say . . .

Precisely What You Mean!

?When trying to express oneself, it’s frankly quite absurd,
To leaf through lengthy lexicons to find the perfect word.
A little spontaneity keeps conversation keen,
You need to find a way to say, precisely what you mean . . .?

Mary Poppins

It’s Monday, and It’s a Mary Poppins kind of day. The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and I find myself singing along with Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke as they perform ?Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.? Inasmuch as I find myself waxing nostalgic, I am also thinking about how much I love words.

Throughout my undergraduate journey I constantly absorbed new words. While I didn’t come across the chemical name of titin, or borrow ?honorificabilitudinitatibus? from Shakespeare, I did augment my vocabulary in a perfectly wonderful way: though reading. Every course, every lecture, every journal article, and every library book gave me an opportunity to develop my vocabulary.

Long before I embraced higher education, I was friends with a young woman who had both a B.A. and an M.Sc. Although my former teammate was an intellectual she was, sadly, not an educator. Instead of showing tolerance toward less educated folks like me (and perhaps gently correcting me in private), she brandished her alumna status like a bludgeon, taking random intellectual swipes at the unlearned. I recall (admittedly with some wincing) the time she humiliated me in front of our entire baseball team for using the colloquial expression ?yous guys.?

According to Urban Dictionary, the phrase ?yous guys,? common in New Jersey, New York, and Chicago, is a colloquial reference for a group of men and women. Something one might say to a coed baseball team. Granted, it wasn’t the best turn of phrase but it was an earworm that had somehow burrowed deep into my brain and for whatever reason, I couldn’t seem to stop myself from saying it (much to my own amazement, I assure you).

The term earworm comes from the German word ohrwurm, and refers to a musical phrase that sticks in your head. According to Earwurm, ?Do you know that sensation of having a tune or song fixed in your mind, repeating over and over? That is called an earworm!?

For better or worse, we all have earworms we would like to annihilate from our psyches. While culling phrases such as ?yous guys? and eliminating superfluous word like ?like? from my repertoire was a challenge, to this day I take comfort in knowing that I am not alone in my desire to purge inarticulate phrases from my memory and speech. In fact, wikiHow has pages devoted to learning how to stop saying ?like? and how to stop being (like) so annoying.

Someone once said ?laughter is an instant vacation.? As long as the joke is not at someone else’s expense, I agree. The difference between me and my former baseball buddy is that I don’t feel compelled to publically call out someone for poor vocabulary choices. We all learn in different ways and at different speeds.

However, if you do want to expand your vocabulary quickly, Languagelab offers a succinct list of words that are sure to impress.

But for maximum impact, read. Read every day if you can. I suggest that you start with the dictionary (no, I am not kidding; keep it in the bathroom). I am what you might call a bibliophile. With over three thousand books in my home library, one of my biggest dreams is to build a floor-to-ceiling bookcase (with requisite rolling ladder, naturally). For now, though, my books will remain shelved on 18 Billy bookcases from IKEA.

As you can see, whether It’s a phonological memory loop or laziness, those irritating expression, songs, and jingles that refuse to disengage themselves from our heads can be as maddening as hiccups. Speaking of hiccups, thanks to my very bright niece I learned that a spoonful of sugar gets rid of them.

Now if I could just get rid of that song in my head.