1. BillyxRansom
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    BillyxRansom Active Member

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    How extensive is your vocabulary?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by BillyxRansom, Jul 12, 2008.

    And furthermore, how often do you use a thesaurus if you feel that a certain word just doesn't work, or quite have the intensity and fire you wish to show?

    Also, while we're at it, is there some sort of "dictionary" or "encyclopedia" (I don't know which would be the more appropriate term in this case) for "showing" scenes? That's probably a weak question, and there probably is nothing for that sort of thing at all. I just happen to be awful at it, ha. :redface:
     
  2. Last1Left
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    Last1Left Active Member

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    I think my vocabulary is pretty extensive; I kinda have a knack for memorization. Though, I don't think it matters so much in writing. Writing's more like knowing when to use the right word at the right time, not so much about using the biggest words.

    And I don't think many people, myself included, use words that they don't think work. It just defeats the purpose. Pull another word from your memory or a thesaurus.

    I don't quite understand your last question though, so I can't really offer anything there. Sorry, mi amigo.
     
  3. Etan Isar
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    Etan Isar Contributing Member Contributor

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    I have a very large vocabulary, and I love to use it.

    You're question, though, is a bit confusing. A "vocabulary" is essentially every word a person knows.
    There's a variant refering to the specific set of terms used in a certain situation, such as dicussing the making and use of fireworks.
    Which do you mean?


    In the second question, it's clear you are looking for something like a dictionary. But there really isn't a book of phrases and words that could be used to create a "showing" scene. It's all about style. "Telling" means making a statement, which may be direct or indirect, most commonly with little to no supporting evidence. "Showing" is expressing a point solely with the evidence. A more extreme contrast is "Michael was sadistic." vs. "Michael could barely contain his ecstasy as he watched the spider vibrate, trying to run without the benefit of its legs."

    Now those are terrible examples, but they illustrate my point. It's not so much the words as it is the method of presentation.



    Now, I've probably misunderstood at least part of your question, so feel free to tell me just how wrong I am, and what you really ment to say.
     
  4. inkslinger
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    inkslinger Contributing Member

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    I think I have a decent vocabulary. I don't really use many of the words I know, though. Whenever I do, I feel like it makes it seem as if I'm coming off too .... I dunno, strongly. It just feels a little forced and fake.

    Last1Left had a good point. It's more a case of knowing the right time to use the right word.
     
  5. PipeandPen
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    PipeandPen Senior Member

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    I feel like my vocabulary could never be large enough. As it is, my vocabulary is decent, but I find myself drawing blanks many times and having to resort to a thesaurus and dictionary.

    As for showing, I'd recommend a little bit of grammar study. Usually grammar can really help you understand the differences between the way something is written and can possible be written.
     
  6. photophreak
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    photophreak New Member

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    I enjoy words. I like learning new ones, and I really like big ones (words, that is ;-))

    I also have a little bit of a freakish memory and I think that helps with vocabulary as well. I also love to read, and have since I was young. I think that reading is the best way to build a vocabulary.

    Your second question- an encyclopedia of how to show something? It seems to me that would not be a very useful thing. Maybe I am misunderstanding you though? It's not as if you could grab a quick excerpt from that "encyclopedia" and use in in your work, like you can grab a word from a thesaurus.
     
  7. silverfrost
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    silverfrost Member

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    Since I started reviewing for the verbal section of the GREs, I've discovered that my vocabulary is horrid. I'm trying to improve it, though. Eh...
     
  8. Flightlessfoofaraw
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    Flightlessfoofaraw Member

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    Pretty extensive, i think. But these things are all relative.

    I don't really understand the first question - sorry!

    By "showing" scenes, do you mean descriptive writing? The difference between "show" and "tell" has already been elucidated by Etan, and it's an issue of style and sentence meaning rather than vocabularly. If you are inquiring about a resource for more interesting adjectives to help you to create vivid and unique descriptions, then the best one available, imho, is simply other books! Read writers who take pride in the use of language, not just plot. A thesaurus is also a useful tool, especially if you've got a word on the tip of your tongue but can't quite put your finger on it (apologies for the mixed metaphor :p)
     
  9. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I have a fairly extensive vocabulary, and I always enjoy finding a good new word. Many are best for collecting, and not for general use. I wouldn't think of complimenting a girl on her pulchritude, for example.

    To me, more important than the size of a vocabulary is how well you understand the subtle shadings of each word. Nothing throws off a piece of writing than having it sprinkled with words that are almost but not quite correct, in their mutual context.
     
  10. Flightlessfoofaraw
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    Flightlessfoofaraw Member

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    Firstly - great word!

    Secondly - i couldn't agree more with the bit in bold.
     
  11. tehuti88
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    tehuti88 Contributing Member

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    Well...I regularly make use of words that the people around me don't seem to get, but I just figured that's because they're not writing/reading types, and I'm always puzzled when people don't understand what I'm saying. I use words like "constitute" and "acclimate" in everyday speech but I don't think it means I have an immense vocabulary, just that I use words the people around me don't tend to use.

    I have no clue how people tell if they have a large vocabulary unless there's some kind of test...? *confused*

    I'm generally happy with the words I have and see little need to go out of my way to use different ones. Sometimes I'll use a thesaurus but this is usually when 1. I've already used the particular word in mind recently and want a change; 2. the word I have in mind doesn't accurately convey my idea so I'm seeking an alternative; or 3. I can't think of the word in mind so I hope the thesaurus will bring it up for me! This process sometimes brings to my attention that I didn't understand a word the way I thought I did; I kept misusing "belie," for example, so have to relearn it.

    I don't tend to spend vast amounts of time on vocabulary because I'll just end up sounding pretentious. (Another word I find common but the people around me probably wouldn't use much.)

    Not sure what you mean by a scene dictionary, unless you mean some sort of guide to writing scenes better. Sorry, I haven't anything in mind; maybe if you Google "show don't tell"?
     
  12. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    'extremely' compared to most...

    uh, i use my 'vocabulary' all day, every day... and even in my sleep... but i don't think you mean 'vocabulary' do you?... see above definition, by etan...

    Also, while we're at it, is there some sort of "dictionary" or "encyclopedia" (I don't know which would be the more appropriate term in this case) for "showing" scenes?

    neither one would really be appropriate... and no, there isn't, since it would have to contain every single piece of fiction every written, since the first authors painted theirs on the cave walls...

    i wouldn't say 'weak'... 'silly' perhaps?... ;-)
     
  13. BillyxRansom
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    BillyxRansom Active Member

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    I just looked at my post again, I'm not sure what I originally meant where I said "vocabulary" but that sure wasn't it! Perhaps I was sleeping... ;)



    Yes, exactly! Thank you.
     
  14. BillyxRansom
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    BillyxRansom Active Member

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    For the confused, I most likely meant "thesaurus". As I said previously, I must've been tired or sleeping or something.
     
  15. The Essential Writer
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    The Essential Writer Senior Member

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    I forgot, really!
    I have a good vocabulary.

    ...
     
  16. Daisy
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    Daisy New Member

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    I agree with Flightlessfoofaraw, and Cognito, as the originator, of course. The subtle difference in words is fascinating. When I read anything, I'm inspired by how the author was able to choose exactly the perfect word or string of words in exactly the right order to get his message across. I'm still working on learning on that.
    "One day," she said dreamily.
     
  17. hellomoto
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    hellomoto Contributing Member

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    I have a fairly large vocabulary for my age (12), although, when writing, I often choose not to use the largest word possible but the most suitable word - whether it be try or endeavour, which ever suits.
     
  18. ParanormalWriter
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    ParanormalWriter Contributing Member

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    I feel I have a pretty extensive vocabulary. Nevertheless, I use a thesaurus any time I find myself falling back on certain "crutch" words. I consult my dictionary frequently too.
     
  19. Alexa
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    Alexa Member

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    I have a horrible vocabulary...okay maybe not horrible but definitely not the best

    ..I'm working on it
     
  20. gigantes
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    gigantes Banned

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    i strongly believe in the concept of plain language (tm), but at the same time am somewhat annoyed by the fact that there are few people i can really open up with vocabulary-wise.

    i made a game of it here (see signature) but few people seem to have the appetite to partake. :(

    using a thesaurus kind of gives me the creeps. for one thing, because i like the challenge of thinking up synonyms myself. for another, the inflections and meanings of words in a thesaurus often stray far from the original word and digging through them all is nuisance which no household cleaner can ameliorate.
     
  21. SonnehLee
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    SonnehLee Contributing Member Contributor

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    There was an awesome wiki page on this concept. I should've thought of this when I asked this question.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Show,_don't_tell

    As for my vocabulary, it could be better, like everything, and it's more extensive than most of my peers, but, hey, i love words.

    Like this one:
    hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia: the fear of long words.
     
  22. ParanormalWriter
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    ParanormalWriter Contributing Member

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    Gigantes, Microsoft Word has a thesaurus and dictionary on it's tool bar, if that makes it any easier for you to find what you need.
     
  23. SonnehLee
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    SonnehLee Contributing Member Contributor

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    The newer versions do. I have an older one that just has a thesaurus
     
  24. gigantes
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    gigantes Banned

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    thanks, but i just explained why i don't like thesauri.

    as far as dictionaries, i prefer those that are available through the browser and are improved/expanded as time goes by. therefore i use dict.org and dictionary.com.
     
  25. DrJoe
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    DrJoe Member

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    I have a large vocabulary, and chances are when I use a thesaurus I'm going to know all the synonyms. However, I do use a thesaurus often because sometimes a word I need will just escape me.
     

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