Thursday, 17 April 2008

Booking through Thursday
We're pondering this today:
I’ve always wondered what other people do when they come across a word/phrase that they’ve never heard before. I mean, do they jot it down on paper so they can look it up later, or do they stop reading to look it up on the dictionary/google it or do they just continue reading and forget about the word?

Have to be a bit priggish here and say that I don't often come across words or phrases I don't know. That is, apart from scientific, medical or other theoretical terminology — I'm usually a fiction reader, though, so this is a rare encounter.
But whenever I do hit the unknown, I'll look it up immediately, using the dictionary first, or my husband, and then maybe Mr Google.
That is, unless I'm reading in bed, when my husband is my first point of reference, especially for queries about history, poetry or the Black Death — and that way, he's often so intrigued that he'll willingly get out of bed to find the necessary reference book.

I must add, however, that I am easily enraged befuddled by the sort of communication usually attempted — in vain — by 'modern' young teachers with a tight grasp on educational theory and only a very slim grasp on English; or by a wannabe conceptual artist and indeed, his/her wannabe conceptual art critic; or by a pompous book reviewer; or by a government worker — but don't get me started on babble-speak ... please.

:: Added later: And what about words we read that we know the author (and editor and proofreaders) has got entirely wrong and obviously doesn't know?
I'm so sick of seeing 'enormity' used instead of 'enormousness', when 'enormity' has nothing to do with size ... and 'lay' instead of 'lie' ... bet you know a whole lot more!


Anonymous said...

I'm a 'looker-upper' as well. I just love finding new words, especially if they have a wonderful ring in the ears when you say them.

jlshall said...

Interesting how many of us say we ask our husbands for answers when we're stumped. Although if I asked mine a question about the Black Death while he was trying to sleep, I'd probably be banished to the sofa for life!

BooksPlease said...

I look up too, except of course if I'm too engrossed in the book to stop reading, or if I'm reading in bed. (I forgot about that when I wrote my answer.)

Maree said...

I'm not a looker-upper; but like you, I find there aren't many words I don't know.

Anonymous said...

Yes, noticing misused words can be frustrating - also when people get their clichés muddled up!
I tend not to stop to look up, although I've just realised that when I'm reading non-fiction I'm much more likely to.

M said...

I keep a dictionary and a notebook beside my bed, a dictionary in the kitchen and a giant, as in, THE macquarie dictionary in my office. Love dictionaries, I do. Obsessive perhaps.

I have been known to circle poorly edited sections of a novel. But not that often, because really, who am I to talk? I am my own worst editor.

Karen said...

Ah, Les, you've got the two biggies! I'm so infuriated by the whole lie/lain/lay lay/laid/laid issue that I now correct library books in INK! But I have given up on enormity/enormousness. I think we have lost the particular meaning of 'enormity' for ever. Shame.
What about this: those words you look up once, twice ... still forget the meaning and have to look them up yet again. Or is it just me???