Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Calling All Word Nerds

At the risk of sounding wordy,
or maybe just plain nerdy,
I am here to tell you straight
that the way to levitate
your daily conversation
to a whole new elevation
is to scour the dictionary
with a fine-toothed comb, and vary
your word selection smartly
as you speak -- well, that is partly
how to sound more fascinating,
but then, it could sound grating
to the crowd with whom you're speaking,
and you may need to start seeking
others who will listen to you
throw your big words around.

So do proceed discreetly
as you try to speak more sweetly,
or more smartly if you'd rather;
or if you simply want to blather
all your new vocabulary
to the people on the ferry
or the bus or train or taxi,
thinking you sound very classy --
beware, not everybody
(perhaps not anybody)
likes ostentatious people.
But, hey, they're not illegal!
Folks like colorful expression
when it's used with great discretion,
so don't be shy to try new words
and see how they might sound.

Phew! Now that I've got that out of my system, here are some word-wise sites that will stretch you and make you sound smart, though not ostentatious. Merriam-Webster Online is filled with words. Not only does it offer a dictionary and thesaurus, but there are plenty of word games and quizzes, a word of the day, and delightful, informative videos. Check out this one, about the ghost word "dord".

And here's public radio's A Way With Words, a radio call in show with marvelous stories and words and phrases and jokes and lots of fun. They also have a blog and other features on their website. You really should check it out.

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