Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Alison Bechdel Makes Me Feel Stupid

I finished reading Alison Bechdel’s “Fun Home” the other day and I really enjoyed it. However, I noticed something stupefying while reading it – there was a plethora of words with which I am unfamiliar. Out of the 217 pages of story, there were 121 words I did not know. That comes out to about one word every 1 and ¾ pages.

Just for reference, I have a bachelor’s and master’s degree in journalism, so I have a pretty good understanding of the English language and I like to think my vocabulary is above average. But it is shocking to realize the amount of words in the book unfamiliar to me. Always having a thirst for knowledge, I decided to write down every unfamiliar word or phrase so I will no longer be dumbfounded upon reading them and so they might enter into my vocabulary.

To be fair: 1.) I put asterisks next to words that I’ve heard before, of which I think I know the definition but wanted to make sure or know the word or root word but am unfamiliar with its usage in this book; 2.) Some are proper nouns, such as characters from Greek mythology, which I’ve never studied, or types of furniture or home furnishings; and 3.) According to her Wikipedia page, Bechdel served, or at least was invited to serve, on the American Heritage Dictionary’s usage panel in 2006. So it can be argued that she has a vocabulary far superior than most of the English-speaking population. (She still makes me feel stupid.)

The list (sorry about the weird spacing):














Artificer

Monomaniacal*

Demur*

Gilt

Cornice*

Legerdemain

Daedalus

Libidinal

Scabrous

Bargeboard

Girandoles

Hepplewhite

Aesthete*

Incipient*

Simulacrum

Chippendale

Buss

Pervasively*

Suffusion

Finial

Consummate*

Aplomb

Obelisk

Provincialism

Urbane

Luxuriant

Vitalis

Grimmsian

Cook stove

Evocative*

Bactericidal

Dessicated

Existentialist*

Gallic

Aspersions*

Doleful

Edifying*

Noblesse

Chaste*

Heady

Tremulous






Tenuous

Redolent

Ardently

Efflorescence*

Twining

Fecundity

Sinew*

Prestidigitation

Demiglace

Milieu

Lexicographical*

Succor*

Cartilaginous

Transposition*

Post lapsarian

Vexingly*

Archetype*

Nonduality*

Lissome

Maudlin

Idolatrous*

Crepuscular

Precipitate*

Hadrian

Berm

Rapt*

Festoon*

Stopgap

Bathetic

Solipsistic

Autodidact

Autocide*

Mori

Epistemological

Gossamer*

Onerous*

Circumflex*

Cursory

Synchronicity*

Juxtaposition*

Protracted*









Elliptic*

Moussaka

Unencumbered*

Martyrology*

Incontrovertible*

Overwrought*

Lacunae

Sanctimonious*

Sauntered

Reading gaol

Repudiation

Basest

All-pervasive*

Beatific

Histrionic

Orgiastically

Tautology

Cognitive dissonance*

Archetypal*

Selfsame

Enumerate*

Divagations

Ministrations

Anaphrodisiac

Trepidation*

Procuress

Scylla

Charybdis

Triumphal*

Joist*

Solemnity*

Libertine

Derision*

Equivocal*

Predilection*

Obtunding

Beseeching*

Renunciatory

Consubstantial



13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Gosh, you're stupid! :)

Anonymous said...

You have a Masters in Journalism - honestly?
I'd ask for a partial tuition refund, because I'm an AA in Visual Communications and only need to look up 5 of these.
Dude, sometimes it pays to suffer in silence.

David Lee said...

I think it's admirable that you wrote down all the unfamiliar words so you could cure your ignorance.

Anonymous said...

I have a Bachelors in getting kicked out at 19 and an Masters in doing whatever I want as long as it pays the bills for the past ten years, and these words? Not hard. You aren't stupid, that's not the lesson here. The lesson is, your journalism degree is for shit when it comes to having more than a glancing familiarity with the English language. Keep reading. It's the best way to fix the problem.

Ricko said...

This blog must have a lot of very smart, anonymous readers!

Chris Eckert said...

Word lists are fun, I'm surprised you hadn't heard some of these myself, but don't listen to the haters: big words and self-improvement are rad!

Josh Blair said...

I also forgot to mention that I'm from Kentucky.

Anonymous said...

Leave him alone...

A BA in journalism only means that you are good a writing at the fourth grade reading level. A master's means you are really good at writing at the fourth grade level.

Laura-Marie said...

Hepplewhite? Post lapsarian? Charybdis? I've never heard those words in my life.

JB said...

Well...by making a list you are building your vocabulary. That's how it works. The next time you see prestidigitation in a book you won't have to look it up.

I once had to argue w/ a person who thought I made up Debilitating. But hey...now she knows...

Jeff said...

I just read Fun Home, and was thinking the same thing. I'm going to make out my own list.

Arthur Nudge said...

Just got "Fun Home" from the library and Googled "redolent fecundity legerdemain prestidigitation"

That's how I ended up here.

Glad to know I'm not alone.. although I am a high school dropout with a list that would be roughly half of yours.

You shouldn't feel too bad, it really does read like something written by a thesaurus saleswoman.

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