Vocabulary in the funnies: how to improve vocabulary
One question that will never stop coming from the students who prepare for CAT is “how to increase the vocabulary?” Suggestions such as read a lot, mug up words lists, make flash cards, subscribe to word a day etc. have always poured in from human race. Since I am the Queen of the Gadha Land, I am quite allergic to the advices that mortals always keep giving me. I like to make my own rules – Gadha Rules.
Each one of us must have followed some comic strip when we were kids but a few like me got addicted, and waste at least an hour each day even when we have left childhood at least 2 decades back. My day doesn’t complete without taking my daily dose of Archie, Peanuts, Nancy, Calvin and Hobbes, Dilbert, Garfield, Dennis etc.
But have you ever thought that these comics are a rich source of vocabulary and learning new words can really come with an incentive of laughter? Let me prove myself:
This strip is from Peanuts:
Notice the word underlined in red. Notches. Oh Wait! don’t look at the dictionary right away, let’s guess the meaning first. From the strip I can make out that Sally (the girl) is saying something nasty to Snoopy (the dog) and previously she says that she wants to put Snoopy in his place and show that he’s not so important. So you know basically that she wants to take him down on the level of importance. Okay now we will check the dictionary meaning– a point or level on a scale. Ahh! we were quite close.
How can I forget Garfield? One of my friend calls me Garfield and I have no clue why. Actually he also doesn’t have. Anyways, have a look:
“Ode to Monday” and “nothing to rhyme with” gives me a feeling that it has something to do with a poem. Dictionary meaning– a poem addressed to a person or thing or celebrating an event. Bang! This was a bull’s eye.
Calvin and Hobbes- This one is my favourite. This is the easiest gift that people think of giving me. Oh! Its Dagny’s birthday; What should we gift her? The instant answer is Calvin and Hobbes comics. But no more guys, I am done with the entire work now.
Wow! four new words in just one strip. We’ll go one by one. Sublime– From Calvin’s expression it looks that he is praising the work of art and is quite impressed. Also, the words moving, enriching, high art have to be in sync with sublime. It has to be close to inspiring. Dictionary meaning– impressing the mind with a sense of grandeur or power; inspiring awe, veneration, etc. Juvenile , I know because I have always heard the term “juvenile books”. Dictionary meaning: Juvenile- pertaining to, characteristic of, or suitable or intended for young persons. Last, sterile and sophomoric can never be praising words because Calvin is a self obsessed 6 year old; he can never praise Hobbes’ work/ ideas. So, the dictionary meanings– Sophomoric- immature; Sterile – not productive of results, ideas, etc.; fruitless. Close huh!
I’d be surprised if an engineer (especially an IITian) is not aware of Dilbert. I mean engineers definitely relate themselves to Dilbert because of common personal traits such as idiosyncrasy of style, hopelessness in dating, and attraction to tools and technological products. Okay, Kill me!
From Alice’s expression in the last image, you can make out that menial, bloated, and cadaver have nothing to do with pleasent words. Menial task and unimportant give me the feel of lowly. And bloated cadaver has to do with ruined career. Meanings as per dictionary.com- Menial- lowly and sometimes degrading: menial work; bloated- swollen; dead body, esp. a human body to be dissected; corpse. Now do you want to kill Asok?
This is one way that you can increase your vocabulary on day to day basis. I am sure many of you must have come across a term, visual vocabulary. You can create your own visual vocabulary with just a little creativity and can even ask your friends for different ideas. Here, you look at the dictionary meaning and try to make your own illustrations in mind. Let me show you some examples:
Bloated– I can remember this word as Blow+ Ted (now Ted can be a name of a frog or name of someone you don’t like)
Latent– hidden, dormant.
If you lay in the tent, you will be hidden from the rest of the world. So, latent means hidden.
Aghast– Speechless with horror.
This one is easy.
Now how would one react if one happens to see a ghost? He/She would be speechless with horror.
Fetish: An abnormally obsessive preoccupation or attachment; a fixation. Fatty has fetish for collecting fat fish.
Sonorous means giving out or capable of giving out a sound, esp. a deep, resonant sound, as a thing or place: a sonorous cavern or full and loud and deep; “heavy sounds”; “a herald chosen for his sonorous voice. What can be a better way to recall it sonorous other than the word “snore“? Easy?
These are just a few examples on how you can guess the meanings of the words from the context, and how you can learn meanings directly by making your own illustrations. You can really play with your creativity and increase your vocabulary with a lot of fun. You can make rough sketches for your reference sake, make funny sentences so as to remember words. All it takes is a little interest and creativity.
Try to make illustrations or pour in your ideas (if you don’t have much time) for the following words:
Assiduous, mirage, porcine, doldrums, austere.
Keep all the advices of humans aside and start working as gadhas. Human Beings- they can keep working hard and getting bored.