Connect Or Control, the oral way

Language, the oral way, is all about words, sentences, tone, pitch, volume and the associated body language of the speaker and the listener.

Our voice and the words that we use, primarily establish our relationships with people. They help us to relate, communicate our feelings, thoughts, ideas, and thus they help us connect or control.

“Good communication skills” is essential to get across to all and everything in society. Without them one cannot imagine life, cannot function at all. Success can come from anything and a good mastery of the skills of writing and speaking are bonus. They surely increase the chances of success.

Today we have doctors who write lovely stories, engineers who weave poems, management icons who spell out the paths to attainment of goals. In order to communicate, the most important tool that one must become efficient in using is, vocabulary. It helps build a successful relationship by helping you to say what you mean and to understand what others say to you. Leaders possess this exceptional skill. Erstwhile heads of nations, Presidents and Prime Ministers have been in most cases multi-lingual.

Communicate clearly and you actually start to think more clearly. Similarly as your powers of expression increase, so does your confidence and vice versa.

India prides and celebrates its diversity. Language provides one such honour. There are more than 100 languages presently existing in the country and around 1544 in the world. With such a large number and variety of languages it becomes absolutely necessary that we hone our skills in one or two languages which will help us get across to the human lot. English, French and Arabic are the three frequently spoken languages across the globe. English being the most commonly spoken and used language it becomes only too necessary that we make some efforts to learn this language. 

English has an enormously rich vocabulary, larger and more varied than that of any other language. This has great advantages and a few dangers. The main advantages are variety and precision. Throughout life, from infancy onwards, you have been hearing or reading new words. Very often you hardly recognise them as new. Simply seeing them in context, you deduce their meaning. Either that, or you look at the way they are made up and rapidly put their meaning together bit by bit.

There is a difference between understanding and knowing. You may understand roughly at least-what a word means. It does not necessarily follow that you know how to use it correctly. People know or can recognise more words than they use.

Increasing your word power comes in two stages, the active and the passive. First there is the passive stage which is your ability to recognise and interpret words that you have not come across before. Then there is the second stage when you consign to your memory those words you reckon will prove useful. You make these words part of your ‘active’ vocabulary when you use it on knowing and understanding the word.

This article tells you how to go about learning new words. It gives tips on how to make them part of both your active and passive vocabulary and shows you how to avoid some pitfalls to avoid when using them for the first time.

1.      DEAR- Drop everything and read. Do this religiously. Read often, as often as possible and there is such a variety of reading material that one can choose according to one’s interest and understanding. Every reading material will provide at least one new unfamiliar word. Take it up as a challenge and as per your ability. Read that which interest you. ( newspaper reading is a must for every vocabulary builder)  

2.      Be conscientious about looking up new words. Words that once left you flabbergasted, confused or perplexed will soon become familiar friends.

3.      Apply this approach to your listening as well. Whether it is to conversations, speeches the radio or the television, pay full attention. Choose your viewing and listening not simply for relaxation but for learning.

4.      Listen carefully to people, in your daily life, who in your opinion speak good English.  Try to work out what it is that makes their language effective. When you come across words that you do not recognise do not block out the words, deduce the meaning from the associated pictures, associated words that are easy and the happening context.  

5.      Next locate the word in the dictionary and know its synonyms.

6.      Context and the usage- Once you become familiar with the word use it first in the same way as you heard or read it. Make a conscious attempt to use it as much as possible until it becomes a part of you vocabulary.

7.      Use it in different ways. An easy pitfall is wrong context. For instance the words –assassination, killed and murdered may appear as synonyms but it will be incorrect to use it in the same way. Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated not murdered.

8.      The right word in the right place- hitting the right word with the appropriate level of language for a particular situation is also important. You might complain to your friends about fuzz or old bull, but if you come up before the magistrate for speed driving you would be wise to refer to these people as police officers. It is not that one word is simply better than another. It is more a matter of picking the one that suits the occasions.

9.      Create humour in the incongruous  use of the word. You can achieve humour and satirical effects by such means.

10.  The collocation (example: cup and saucer) of a word are the typical phrases or contexts it occurs in. Nothing can be varicose except a vein. Delinquents tend to be juvenile. Your political party or trade union has an executive rather than a board or committee.

11.  Examples of English collocations: damp and moist mean the same when used to describe a cleaning rag, but are not interchangeable when applied to for example tearful eyes. Orders are normally given and decrees issued. But you can do either with a command.

12.   A word learnt a day and used everyday in a week can help you grow a word bank of at least 365 words in a year.

13.   Unfortunately it does not happen. In real life, we learn only up to a mere 05 words, even the so called avid reader.

14.   Communicate and interact profusely with people who talk glib. It helps quite often. By the same parameter, avoid the company of people who are judgemental and who affect you, create fear in you or negate your efforts in their own ways. Commit and engage only in developing the skill.

Please note everywhere I have referred to this vocabulary enhancement as a skill. It is a skill that can be learnt, acquired, and possessed. Last but not the least, if you are one of those wonderful time managers, in the initial stages, keep a notebook and record the words you are learning. One day, you will not require it, but someday, it could become a good dictionary in the hands of a good publisher.