Many years ago I had a colleague who told me that she was concerned about her daughter’s English, as the family didn’t speak English at home. Without a second thought, I told her she should encourage the girl to read.
I didn’t think it mattered whether she was reading Jane Austen, Dickens, Woman’s Weekly, or simply the next Mills and Boone bodice ripper: my idea was that she’d learn grammar and assimilate new vocabulary from seeing language in context.
Continue reading “trains, travel & terminology”
Somewhere, during the last couple of weeks, I saw or heard the word “ample” and it stuck in my mind.
It’s not what I’d call an uncommon word; in fact, I’m sure I used to use it and come across it relatively frequently. But, try as I might, I really couldn’t remember when I last had occasion to describe something as ample.
I spent about a quarter of a century living in Spain, not among ex-pats, but among Spanish speakers. So I was mostly either speaking in Spanish, or speaking to non-native speakers. Continue reading “enough said”
I mentioned recently that I sometimes need to ‘top up’ my supply of words by reading voraciously just about anything I can get my hands on. It doesn’t have to be anything of any great literary value; indeed, I think what I’m really looking for is not so much words as such, it’s colloquial and fluent usage and phrasing that can perhaps be repurposed so that not all the clients I work for in a particular sector end up with the same wording on their websites and marketing collateral.
Since then, I’ve been wondering generally about vocabulary knowledge and learning: how many words do we know? Do adults continue to learn new words and, if so, how many?
Continue reading “words and birds”
Sometimes it seems that my work involves so much talking and so many emails that I run out of words and need to top up the supply by reading. At such times I revert to my childhood habit of reading indiscriminately and almost compulsively.
My tastes in fiction are fairly catholic and it’s definitely a question of quantity not quality for these binges: I don’t really care what the genre is, I just want words and more words.
Continue reading “distracted by details”
On a visit to south Wales this week, when I stepped outside the back door, I found the iridescent creature pictured above sunning itself on the rosemary bush. Without doubt, it was one of the most eye-catching beetles I’ve ever seen.
I don’t claim to recognise all the insect life of the UK, but I was surprised just how unfamiliar this one seemed: I was pretty sure that even if my Observer’s Book of Common Insects and Spiders were not stuffed in a box at the back of a storage locker somewhere in rural Spain, it would not help me to identify it.
Continue reading “naming memories”