Monday, September 24, 2012

Don't Forget Roget

In school we were taught the value of the dictionary and the thesaurus. We all became proficient with the dictionary -- learning to find words in alphabetical order, decipher their parts of speech, their pronunciation, their multiple meanings, their origin, and even how to use them in sentences. But the thesaurus? Did you really spend much time with your thesaurus?

You are sure to turn to a dictionary every now and then, even if you have spell-check activated. Surely someone throws a word your way, even if it's once in a blue moon, that baffles you.

How often do you grasp the thesaurus in your hand to appropriate a more germane word, a more apt or befitting expression that will convey your notion plainly? Or maybe it's color you want. In the thesaurus you will find words that make your writing pop! To depict a sunset you can use words like dazzling, stunning and resplendent rather than the uninspired beautiful. (According to Roget, you can also use pulchritudinous, which would be amusing, as it might send your reader scampering off to procure a dictionary!)

You can, of course, overindulge this convention. It is conceivable that the populace may cultivate weariness owing to your intemperate employment of synonyms. (I postulate you do not fancy being a buffoon.)

Used with discretion, the thesaurus just might become your new bosom buddy!

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Here are some links you might dig. (OK, that's my last time to check the thesaurus for a choice word.) If you'd like a bit more information about Roget, check out this brief biography or the book The Man Who Made Lists, which I just reserved from our library. It sounds absorbing. And here's a fascinating article about a man from India who has spent many years creating a Hindi thesaurus.

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