Vaughan’s Vocabulary

Don Vaughan provides infrequently used words to strengthen your vocabulary.

Is there a certain number of words that students need to know in order to succeed?  Catherine Snow of Harvard University stressed that teachers need to teach the 26 letters of the English alphabet, 44 phonemes, and – are you ready for this? — seventy five thousand words, at least! I learned this observation from an article titled Understanding Vocabulary by Francie Alexander, the Chief Academic Officer of Scholastic Inc.

Alexander pointed out that it’s obvious that teachers must teach the sounds and letters systematically and explicitly, but the challenge is how to teach seventy thousand words.

This statistic is a clear reminder that advance word building is a lifetime process, which, hopefully, begins early in life, yet it is never too late to start. I am coining the phrase “the “Francie Principle”; at every grade and in every subject, all teachers are vocabulary teachers. Methods are direct instruction (pre-teaching key words in a passage), wide reading (reading texts to introduce children to rare words that are low in frequent use but high in important meaning), words in context, reading promotions, speaking, word study, and beingword conscious.

I’m doing the column differently this week. Mark the five answers that you believe are correct. Using a dictionary, make sure the responses you chose are correct. The following five are of the seventy five thousand words for successfulpeople.

1. indicative (in-DIC-uh-tiv)

A. totally, entirely

B. showing, signifying or pointing out

C. causing or characterized by being hooked onsomething

D. showing little or no concern

2. ambiguity (am-buh-GYU-uh-tee)

A. the self-perception of feeling big

B. a word or expression that could be understood in

two or more possible ways or senses

C. environment

D. someone who is eccentric

3. ubiquitous (you-BI-kwa-tus)

A. having little influence

B. inclined to take offense easily

C. existing practically everywhere

D. dangerous

4. correlation (kor-uh-LAY-shun)

A. when a mutual or reciprocal relation exists

B. something that serves to indicate

C. incompatibility

D. the act of giving utterance or expression

5. syntax (SIN-tax)

A. a system or orderly arrangement

B. the study of words

C. a price to pay for doing the wrong thing

D. a difficult situation

August 7 mystery word is velleity (vell-LEE-uh-tee).

This week’s mystery word (actually two words) can be

used for a remarkable year that you experience. Both words end in s.

August 21

On Sundays, just after 7:30 a.m., I am listening to National Public Radio’s The Puzzle with Will Shortz, the New York Times puzzle editor. On a recent broadcast Shortz asked listeners to write down five words: aide, heart, tough, gelatin, and emanate. “There is something unusual,” Shortz pointed out, “they have in common. What is it? To indicate you have the answer, provide another word that has the same property.” Before going to the next paragraph, do you know the answer?

Each word can be transformed into another word by moving the first letter to the end. For example, when you move the e in aide to the end, you get idea, heart becomes earth, tough becomes ought, gelatin becomes elating, and emanate becomes manatee. Other words are plum, dread, and tangs. Here are some of Shortz’s words in this week’s Vaughan’s Vocabulary.

1. Gigi said that she found her date with Dave elating. Gigi was saying that he

A. was late.

B. makes her feel happier.

C. was obnoxious.

D. was upsetting.

E. was condescending.

2. manatee (MAN-uh-tee)

A. a large flowering deciduous tree

B. an aquatic mammal with a spoon-shaped tail

C. an often repeated word, formula, or phrase

D. an annoying mannerism

No. 1 and No. 2 are B. A under No. 2 is a definition for manatu and C under No. 2 is a definition for mantra.

3. emanatory (EM-uh-nuh-tore-ee)

A. the quality of flowing or arising out of a source

B. not demanding or obligatory

C. menacing

D. None of the Above

Emanatory, the adjective form of emanate, is A. Example: Essays and informative speeches should be emanatory with paraphrased information coming right after a source citation.

4. Which one of the following can be transformed into another word by moving its first letter to the end?

A. yellow

B. elate

C. yonder

D. stove

E. rove

August 14 mystery word is annus mirabilis.

This week’s mystery word to solve is a noun that means an influence or atmosphere that tends to deplete, corrupt, or obscure. Right in the center of the mystery word is the title of a beautiful song on Stevie Wonder’s “Songs in the Key of Life.” Oh, and No. 4? It’s ellowy (no just kidding; rove becomes over).