“The knowledge of words is the gateway to scholarship.”
‘Words may be either servants or masters. If the former, they may ‘
guide us in the way of truth. If the latter, they intoxicate. the brain and d us into swamps of thought where there is no Sold footing.”
Hare. “Words are like leaves; and where they most abound Much fruit of sense beneath is rarely found.”
Words are the instrument by which we fashion and .embody our ideas. It is in words that the writer, as well as the speaker, clothes his thoughts. It is by means of words that he depicts his feelings. It is therefore essential to his success that he should try to enlarge his vocabulary so that he may have a fairly good stock of words at his disposal. The only means of acquiring a good vocabulary is constant and careful reading. There is a kind 0 reading, hurried, casual, unthinking which leaves little or no impression on the mind. In this way one reads newspapers or trashy novels just for the sake of the matter or the story. If your wish to improve your vocabulary you must read good books, standard authors, writers of acknowledged standing and repute, and read with concentration and care, understanding and appreciating what you read. Such a course of reading has been suggested in the Introduction. This kind of reading will require the constant use of a good dictionary. The Concise Oxford Dictionary Fifth Edition is a reliable guide to the meaning, spelling and pronunciation of the English vocabulary. Look up every word that is strange to you or of the meaning of which you are not sure. Study the use of such words, how and in what context they are used and keep a special note-book for recording the information for future reference. The study of words should not be a dull and dry pursuit. Words should not be studied in isolation from their context. We should learn. words as living units of thought and feeling in first-rate books, periodicals, journals and newspapers. It is only by this necessarily slow and laborious process that you can build up a good vocabulary. No. one is born with a ready knowledge of the words in a language nor is there any royal road to it. Read wisely and with care. That is the only way. This sort of study would give you the power to discriminate and use words, with due measure of precision and force. The more trouble you take the greater your reward. The Right Word. Robett Louis Stevenson has said. “The difficulty . ‘ of Literature is not to write, but to write what you want.‘ A large part of the difficulty lies in choosing the right word. Often we have more than one word before us out of which we must choose the one word we want. The effectiveness of all writing depends upon the use of the right word in each place. English is a language capable of expressing the finest shades of thought and feeling and you are often in a difficulty to select just the right word to express your idea. Only careful reading and practice in writing will enable you to distinguish the nice shades of meaning and pick out just the word your context demands. ”Reading,” says Bacon maketh a nil man writing an exact man.” And Gibbon tells us that ”the choice and command of language is the fruit of exercise.’ Shakespeare’s greatness as a dramatist and poet lies in his natural capacity fat choosing the right, the live and the unforgettable word. Synonyms. There is, of course, no difficulty in distinguishing between words which stand for very different things, as cat and dog. But when we have to choose between two words that have very similar meanings, me difficulty arises. Words which have almost the same meaning are called synonyms. There are several words in English with more or less identical meaning. But in many cases there are differences in the meanings and uses of the so-called synonyms. The main difficulty arises in the selection of the right word or words by which the various trains of ideas that are passing through the mind may be most fitly and _ aptly expressed, so that the diversified and nicer shades of feeling which
Accompany them may be depicted. Besides, it very often happen that the same word admits of various applications or may be used in different senses. Hence unless the student understands the differences of meaning. he will not be able to make any appreciable headway towards the writing of good English. A really capable writer does not confuse a word with its synonym because no two synonyms in English have exactly the same shade of meaning. One word is, perhaps, more dignified than another or more emphatic. Some words are used only in certain connections and places and not in others. For instance, the words elder and older are synonyms but they are used in different senses. We say, ”He IS my elder brother,” but we do not say ,“This tree is elder than that one.” The correct ‘ form is: “This tree is older than that one.” Column and pillar may be considered to be synonyms when! they mean a support for an arch. But a college student made a funny mistake when he wrote: “I came across this incident in the pillars of a newspaper. He meant to say: I came across this incident in the columns of I newspaper … column here meaning a narrow upright division of a printed page in a newspaper. .
Synonyms may be used for the sake of variety. But in certain content one won! cannot be substituted for another without spoiling the effect of The phrase or sentence. Thus though sweat and perspiration are synonyms, in the sentence : “In the sweat of the brow shalt The eat bread perspiration cannot be substitute for sweat without marring the sentence.