Appendix H. . .Vocabulary

       I  have  put together a list of about 5500 words.  If we don't 
count slang expressions and "four-letter words,"  these are  the most 
frequently used words in the English language.  They are words every 
high-school graduate should know and they occur in textbooks written 
for college freshmen.  I can say that with confidence because I went 
through dozens of introductory texts and  counted  the  non-technical 
words.  These are words you simply have to know in order  to  succeed 
in college. 
       Most  children  know  several thousand words before they start 
going to school.  We can call these Level-1 words. They learn several 
thousand more words in the elementary grades and we  can  call  these 
Level-2  words.   About  4000 of these Levels-1-2 words are listed in 
the vocabulary.  Level-3 words are ones that should have been learned 
by the tenth grade. About 900 such words are listed in the vocabulary 
and they can be identified because they  are  printed  in  lower-case 
letters but they have a very brief definition included. More advanced 
words at Level-4 are printed in capital letters  in  the  vocabulary. 
These are ones college professors assume that you know. 
       To summarize:  Level 1  Preschool
                      Level 2  Elementary School
                      Level 3  Middle School
                      Level 4  High school Graduate
       Some  students  ask why, if they already know several thousand 
words, they need to learn still more.  A good answer is by analogy of
adding lanes to paved roads.   A 1-lane road is certainly much better
than a path, but it doesn't handle two-way traffic very well.  Adding 
a  second  lane  is therefore a great improvement, but may still pose 
problems  when  cars  want to pass.  Adding a third lane reduces this 
problem somewhat, but it is adding a fourth lane that is necessary to 
permit a smooth flow of traffic in both directions. 
      Vocabulary is like a  road  that  carries  information  between 
people.  Level-2 words are like a 2-lane road, and you can get  along 
pretty well with that for many everyday purposes.  But if you want to 
deal with heavy traffic of information, if  you  want  to  deal  with 
complex ideas efficiently, you need a super-highway vocabulary.  That 
means knowing words at levels 3 and 4.  Good  college  professors  do 
not  use  "big" words where little ones will do just as well.  But we 
do  use Level-4 words when it would take a long phrase of lower-level 
words to try to express the idea.   
      (Beware of sources that count "words"  instead of  "ideas"  and
make the size of your lexicon  seem very large.  I have counted words
like know/knew/known/knowing as only one idea.   By  adding  prefixes
(unknown) and suffixes (knowingly),  one  could make it seem that you
know many thousand more words.  To me, it is the number of non_verbal
ideas that best measures the richness of your vocabulary.)
Enlarging your lexicon
      A  "lexicon"  is a dictionary; your lexicon is the set of words 
that  are  meaningful  to you.  If a word is in your lexicon, you can 
recognize it immediately, and dull as the assignment may be,  I  urge 
you to go through the  vocabulary  list  at the back of this workbook
and highlight every word that you do not know. Then, put a check-mark
beside each of those words as you learn them. 
      The definitions given in the vocabulary list are much too brief 
to  be used for learning the meaning of the words, but they should be 
enough  to  remind  you of the meaning once you know it.  I recommend 
that  you  select  ten or a dozen words that you do not know and that 
seem  like ones you would find useful.  Put each word on a small slip 
of paper, look up the word in a college dictionary, and put some  cue 
to  its meaning on the back of the slip.  Then carry these slips with 
you  to study when you would otherwise be doing nothing mental.  Once 
you have learned a word,  put  the  slip in a separate pile for later 
review and replace it with a new word to be learned. 
      When you are deliberately learning new words, do NOT simply try
to MEMORIZE their verbal definitions.   Recall that the real  meaning 
of  words  is non-verbal and a definition is useful only if it is, in 
turn,  meaningful  to  you.  For example, if I define ethereal as the 
feeling one has when regaining consciousness after being knocked out, 
you  could  memorize the words but still not know what ethereal means 
if you have never been  knocked out.   The point is  that you need to 
associate a word with its non-verbal meaning, not with its definition. 
     Learning new words requires MENTAL IMAGERY. . .visual, auditory, 
tactual, gustatory ideas.  First, use the verbal definition to  bring 
that idea to mind; then try to find some feature of the word that you 
can readily associate with that idea.  Then make up a sentence  using 
the  new  word.   This added bit of cognitive effort will probably be 
enough to effect learning then and there.   However, do not put  that  
slip in your "learned" pile until you have once used the word.  It is
when you have spoken or written the word in the normal course of your
everyday life that the word is a part of your lexicon.
     I am going to give a number of illustrations of this  method  in 
order to help you get the hang of it.  But the method works best when 
you  create  the  images yourself.  This is simply because ideas that 
occur  to  you once are more likely to occur to you again.  So please 
read these examples for their method, not their content. 

     ABERRANT=not normal.   Imagine  a nest of ants  running around, 
one of which is shaped like a tiny bear.  "A bear ant" represents the 
non-verbal idea of something that is "not normal."  A common football 
score of 21-20 would be aberrant in baseball. 
     ABUSE=improper use.  Say to yourself, "AB-use is BAD-use," while 
thinking of a good example such as a knife with a bent tip because it 
was used (improperly) to pry open a can.  Making  a  dog-ear  of  the 
corner of a page is one way to abuse a good book. 

     ACCELERATION=increase rate.  Think of the  accelerator  in  your 
car and imagine feeling the car take off when you step on the gas.  I 
used to burn rubber to feel the fast acceleration. 
     ACUITY=see clearly.  Perhaps there's a "dirty old man"  cleaning 
his glasses so that he can see "a cutie" more clearly.  Newborns have 
very poor visual acuity. 
     ADAGE=saying.  For "age," think "old," and then try to recall an 
"old ad" that has a line (saying) you remember. . .such as,  "Be  all 
that you can be, in the Army."  You can probably find a fitting adage 
for almost any occasion. 

     ADAPT=fit conditions.  Something that is  "apt"  is  "suitable." 
Think  of an ad that was changed to make it an "apt ad," such as, "If 
you  smoke,  please try this brand."  You have to be able to adapt to 
each professor's style. 

     ADHERE=stick to.  Try to think of something that makes you  want 
to stick an "ad here."  Possibly a picture of a fat person  that  you 
stick  to the refrigerator door to remind you to eat carefully.  Wise 
shoppers adhere to their budgets. 
     ADMONISH=scold gently.  Sometimes I can't make a connection, but 
just forming an image and studying the word is often sufficient.  For 
example, imagine a parent explaining to a  child  why  something  the 
child did was wrong, and try out possible cues such as  "bad-monish," 
"monastery," "punish."  Even unsuccessful cognitive effort helps.  It 
is often better to admonish a child rather than to punish. 
     ADVENTITIOUS=accidental.   This word sounds like, "adventurous," 
and leads to imagining an episode of venturing into  a  new  part  of 
town and accidentally running into someone you know.  You can enjoy a 
prize even if winning is adventitious. 
     After just reading the illustrations, you may have no trouble in 
reading this paragraph: 
     Learning  new words is usually adventitious.  Sometimes you hear 
an  aberrant word in an adage, such as one that admonishes you about 
abusing  your eyes lest your acuity is decreased.  You do not have to 
adhere  strictly to my method of learning but should adapt it to your 
own style.  You will soon see an acceleration in your learning words. 
     Once you make a commitment to learn these words, you may find it 
helpful  to  put a few of your word-slips in places where you might 
have a chance to study them:  the bathroom, the dining table, the car 
seat,  etc.  In this way, you can build your super-highway lexicon by 
using time that you would  otherwise waste.   Count up how many words 
you would learn if you added one every time you brush your teeth! 

1. . 2 . .3 . .4 . . Associations

      To say that you know the meaning of a word is to say  that  you
have learned an association between the word and the  non-verbal idea
that it represents.  However, there are two contexts in which you may
encounter the word, namely when you hear it spoken or when you see it
written.  For most words in your lexicon, if you know the word in one
of these contexts, you also know it in the other.  However, for words
with which you are not very familiar,  you may do better when reading
than when listening.   This is because you can stop reading while you
search your memory for the meaning of a word, whereas when listening,
the lecture or conversation usually continues without  regard to your
awareness of the meaning of the words.

      Hence,  your reading lexicon is probably  somewhat  larger than
than your listening lexicon.  Symbolically,

      Association 1.  Written word ____> Nonverbal idea (meaning)
      Association 2.  Spoken word _____> Nonverbal idea (meaning)

Association 1 may be stronger than Association 2.  Furthermore, these
associations are not symmetrical.   That is to say, the following two
associations are very probably weaker than the first two:

      Association 3.  Nonverbal idea ____> Written word
      Association 4.  Nonverbal idea ____> Spoken word

Association 3 is required when you are writing, and again,  you often
can pause long enough to try to think of the word the  represents the
idea you have in mind. Association 4 is required when you are talking
and most people don't like to stumble around while searching for just
the right word.

      The asymmetry in associations is familiar.  For example, we all
know the frustration of knowing a person's name but not being able to
think of it at the moment.   Thus, the association name--->person is
stronger than the reverse association,  person--->name.   Similarly,
most high school graduates recognize the names Madison, Polk, Hoover,
and Wilson as presidents of the United States, but few of them recall
those names if asked to name presidents.   In general,  ÷it is usually˛
÷more difficult to generate the word than to recognize it˛.

      The reason that I said  generating the word is  "usually"  more
difficult is  because the  strength of an  association depends on how
frequently it has been practiced.   There is nothing  inherently more
difficult about associations 3 and 4 compared with 1 and 2; we simply
don't normally use as many words when we are  speaking as we see when
we are reading.  In one study, it was found that a vocabulary of only
200 words would enable a person to understand  over 95% of everything
that was said in a college student union building! 

      In order to increase your functional lexicon, you must practice
all four kinds of associations.  Being able to think of a word during
normal conversation is the best sign that the word is truly  in  your
lexicon.   The next few pages provide some helpful verbal exercises.

Vocabulary Matching

Indicate the definition below that fits the capitalized words:

___  1. One characteristic ASCRIBED to professors is absentmindedness.

___  2. The soldier pledged ALLEGIANCE to the country.

___  3. The scientist ASSIMILATED the idea into her theory.

___  4. The CONCEPT of learning is described in "Ways and Whys."

___  5. The COHENSION of the group was remarkable in that situation.

___  6. The roads CONVERGED at the race track.

___  7. Good multiple-choice exams require difficult DISCRIMINATIONS.

___  8. It is difficult to DETER a determined child.

___  9. Imagery FACILITATES learning the meaning of words.

___ 10. The students were asked to GENERATE questions in class.

___ 11. Teachers sometimes give away answers INADVERTENTLY.

___ 12. The product was INFERIOR to what we usually receive.

___ 13. The LITERAL meaning of the statement caused confusion.

___ 14. The pilots try to MINIMIZE flying into bumpy air.

___ 15. The engineers took PRECISE measurements.

___ 16. Coal is one our country's natural RESOURCES.

___ 17. Learning strategies has a SIGNIFICANT effect on memory.

___ 18. The student's STATUS in class was uncertain.

___ 19. There may only be a SUBTLE difference between our opinions.

___ 20. The doctor SYSTEMATICALLY tested the patient.


a. the act of perceiving differences  k. an idea or general notion
b. to produce                         l. position in rank
c. hardly noticeable                  m. approach a common point
d. to reduce                          n. methodically
e. to make a part of                  o. loyalty
f. not deliberate                     p. make easier
g. asset                              q. accurate
h. lower in quality                   r. union, held firmly together
i. considered as belonging to         s. in a basic or strict sense
j. prevent/restrain from proceeding   t. full of meaning

Make up several sentences using these same words.   If possible, make 
up sentences that contain two or more of the words (e.g. "A soldier's
allegiance is sometimes more ascribed than real.")