I’m just hanging out, reading my book (to myself, of course) and I stumble on a word that I haven’t the slightest idea how to pronounce. So then, instead of moving on and not worrying about it, I spend the next 5-10 minutes trying to figure out what the heck this word means, how to say it, what’s its origin, who invented it… And 5-10 minutes turns into 20-30 minutes and I’ve lost my place.
I don’t know about you, but when I’m reading (yes, in my head) I have to be able to pronounce the words I’m reading and have at least a basic understanding of their meaning; otherwise, I may misinterpret something or miss a valid point. Now obviously names aren’t (always) going to greatly impact my comprehension of the story, but I still just can’t ignore the fact that I don’t at least know how to pronounce it.
Therefore, I use these moments as a learning opportunity. What better way to learn a new word and use it in the future? I have an endless list of words that I’ve stumbled on while reading. This is what I do: I come across a word I don’t know or can’t pronounce and I add it to my list (there is seriously a list). I then define it, learn how to pronounce it (which sometimes requires Google and YouTube), and I store it away for future use.
For example, while reading one of Lisa Gardner’s many fantastic novels, I tripped up on the word surfeit. I know, right!? Tripped you up, too, didn’t it? First things first, according to Google, it’s pronounced / ˈsərfət / which if you’re like me, means absolutely nothing to you. So, thank you YouTube for teaching me how to say that correctly. Using my handy dandy Kindle app on my super convenient iPad, I was able to define the word by simply highlighting it. As a noun, surfeit means an excessive amount of something. (Which, ironically, describes my reading habit!) I decided I really liked this word and I added it to my seriously-real-and-endless list of words. I liked it so much that I was able to find a place for it in my writing: the poem titled three a.m.
And just like that, I’ve take an annoying moment of realizing I don’t actually know everything, and turned it into an opportunity to learn something new and use it to my advantage.
© Chelsie Cummings 2016