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Old 12-31-2012, 02:57 AM   #31
Billi
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I feel exactly the opposite; books that use a rich vocabulary, as Colin Dexter does, enrich my vocabulary by encouraging me to look up the meaning of words that I haven't previously encountered.
Do you really remember these words? I must admit that those books wouldn't enrich my vocabulary - I would simply forget them very quickly again and I can't imagine one single situation where I would use "dolichocephalic" instead of oval or long headed.
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Old 12-31-2012, 02:58 AM   #32
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I always felt that communication was to share ideas or information. If a person chooses to use a word or words that the listener won't understand, that isn't clear communication to 'me.' When such a word is needed to clarify an idea or beautify the sounds of the writing, then of course its usage serves a definite purpose. But all too often it's just pretentious. I imagine we all know someone who will never use a small word when a big one will do, especially if they know the listener won't understand.
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Old 12-31-2012, 03:20 AM   #33
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Do you really remember these words? I must admit that those books wouldn't enrich my vocabulary - I would simply forget them very quickly again and I can't imagine one single situation where I would use "dolichocephalic" instead of oval or long headed.
People are different!
Yes, I do remember most of them. I find words and language fascinating and I always enjoy learning new things.
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Old 12-31-2012, 03:53 AM   #34
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Although interesting to learn, (and there's no doubt that it is,) how does using a word like "dolichocephalic" improve the quality of the story? Or the flow of reading? To me, it seems that it would be an interruption, and serve no particular purpose... in 'this' case, anyway.


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Old 12-31-2012, 04:04 AM   #35
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Originally Posted by Stitchawl View Post
Although interesting to learn, (and there's no doubt that it is,) how does using a word like "dolichocephalic" improve the quality of the story? Or the flow of reading? To me, it seems that it would be an interruption, and serve no particular purpose... in 'this' case, anyway.
It's just Colin Dexter's writing style. His books are full of that sort of thing: in the books, Inspector Morse (like Dexter himself) is a fan of crosswords, and often puzzles over crossword clues he can't solve. It's one of the reasons that I enjoy Dexter's books, but they probably wouldn't be so enjoyable to someone who didn't like having their vocabulary challenged in that way.
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Old 12-31-2012, 04:11 AM   #36
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Originally Posted by HarryT View Post
It's just Colin Dexter's writing style. His books are full of that sort of thing: in the books, Inspector Morse (like Dexter himself) is a fan of crosswords, and often puzzles over crossword clues he can't solve. It's one of the reasons that I enjoy Dexter's books,
Yes, I understand that part.

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but they probably wouldn't be so enjoyable to someone who didn't like having their vocabulary challenged in that way.
That's the part I don't understand... Not the challenge part, (many people enjoy a good challenge,) but the need to stop reading to look up the word. You don't find it interruptive? Causing a break in the flow of the story?


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Old 12-31-2012, 04:17 AM   #37
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I understand what you're asking, but no, I don't. I actually enjoy coming across things that make me stop and think for a moment.
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Old 12-31-2012, 06:09 AM   #38
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Anyway, the words I looked up while reading this book were:

dolichocephalic ("having an oval-shaped skull")
thanatology ("the scientific study of death")
subniveal ("under the snow")
charpoy ("bed")
pterophobia ("fear of flying")
OK, you got me with 'subniveal' (although I guess it might have been clear from context). I knew the rest

I often find that if I have to look up words, my Kindle dictionary (the 10th edition Chambers) doesn't know them either...

OK, I just looked up 'subniveal' in the book. Yeah, I'd have gotten the rough meaning from context (the actual sentence being 'The thaw continued overnight, and lawns that had been totally subniveal the day before were now resurfacing in patches of irregular green under a blue sky.'), but I'd probably have looked it up to be sure.

Last edited by mbovenka; 12-31-2012 at 06:15 AM.
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Old 12-31-2012, 06:14 AM   #39
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OK, you got me with 'subniveal' (although I guess it might have been clear from context). I knew the rest
Yes, it was reasonably clear from context. The sentence was something like "A thaw had set in, and green patches were emerging from the subniveal lawns...".
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Old 12-31-2012, 07:45 AM   #40
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OK, you got me with 'subniveal' (although I guess it might have been clear from context). I knew the rest
LOL! That was the only one I was reasonably sure about,and the context made it very clear to me. The others... not a clue!!

The good thing with ereaders is that you can look up word without interrupting the reading flow too much. So I sometimes look up English words I wouldn't have bothered with if I had been reading a paper book. (English, of course, not being my everyday language)
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Old 12-31-2012, 02:30 PM   #41
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Old 12-31-2012, 10:42 PM   #42
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That's the part I don't understand... Not the challenge part, (many people enjoy a good challenge,) but the need to stop reading to look up the word. You don't find it interruptive? Causing a break in the flow of the story?
It was interruptive to check a definition when reading a pbook and I often just guessed at a meaning while writing it down to check later. One of the joys of an ereader is checking word meanings as I come to them. It's no bother.

I'm with Harry on this one. I love coming upon unfamiliar words, and I never think of them as pretentious. If a word exists and is appropriate, then I welcome its usage. Books of a century or two ago that many now find difficult used larger vocabularies and more complex sentences.
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Old 01-01-2013, 12:03 AM   #43
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I'm with Harry on this one. I love coming upon unfamiliar words, and I never think of them as pretentious. If a word exists and is appropriate, then I welcome its usage.
... which is basically what I said. Why would anyone think them pretentious unless they were? In my previous post I said "When such a word is needed to clarify an idea or beautify the sounds of the writing, then of course its usage serves a definite purpose. But all too often it's just pretentious." which is quite different from saying that all use of unusual words is pretentious...
Learning new words, increasing one's vocabulary, (the two not necessarily the same,) expanding boundaries, discovering new ideas, people, places, and things... these are all what make reading so enjoyable. As well as the smooth flow of the writing or story... for me. I can't imagine trying to read 'The Song of Hiawatha' and stopping every few paragraphs to look up a word. It would be like stopping a Bach concerto every few measures to clean my ears!

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Old 01-01-2013, 02:10 PM   #44
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The ones I do not know.
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Exactly. As for me, I can barely remember what I had for breakfast these days, much less what I looked up in a dictionary. I do check for synonyms a lot.
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Old 01-01-2013, 02:30 PM   #45
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I never use the dictionaries on my Kindle. If I can't figure out the definition from the context, I'll look it up later; if I remember.
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