For those of us who were not born with our thumbs already programmed to text, internet slang is an easy target for derisive comments. Still, I received a lot of positive feedback for our explanation of “TIL,” so I thought I’d push my luck with this one: “SMH” means “shaking my head,” as in “can you believe this?” Alternatives included SMHID (“shaking my head in despair”) and /O\ (frustrated, hands on head). So why am I /O\?
I’m a huge fan of Gawker‘s Caity Weaver (full disclosure: she’s also a friend), and I chuckled my way through “America’s Dumb 4th Graders Don’t Know What ‘Puzzled’ Means (Don’t Worry, They Can’t Read This).” [WARNING: Strong language, typical of Gawker posts. Do not click link if you have tender ears…er…eyes! You will, however, miss a good laugh.] The study that Ms. Weaver references is yet another in the Chicken-Little-ish series of proofs that we may not be doing quite as well as we should with the whole education thing. For those college instructors who have mastered the sigh-and-move-on technique for dealing with these harsh realities, this study did not qualify as big news.
The deeply unsettling part of the post proved to be the “comments” section, where readers offered a plethora (use of prissy word is intentional) of vignettes (oops) recounting demands from mentors and administrators to “dumb down” their vocabularies. Apparently words like “erudite,” “misconstrue,” and “glacially” are just too rich for students and colleagues to digest. /O\
Here at HCC, we are literally posting the Word of the Day on the inside of restroom stall doors in an effort to improve our students’ vocabularies. (OK, we put the Word on the LED display at the entry to the college, too; but that’s not as vivid an image, is it?) How disappointing to hear that there are insurgents, to use a recent Word of the Day, within our own ranks. Lexophiles, arise!
Having a broad vocabulary covers many of the pleasureinlearning bases. My anatomy students are surprised (1) by the sensual pleasure (2) that they derive from being able to rattle off a phrase like “pseudostratified ciliated columnar epithelium.” Being able to do that is an achievable challenge (3) that lets them feel part of a special group (4) which possesses valuable knowledge (5). And it’s a lot more fun than saying “tall cells with hair on top that line stuff,” which is what it means in words of four letters or less…five letters, if you count “cells.”
Friends, there’s a reason that you start with seven tiles in Scrabble. Let’s use them all.
- Be Aware of New and Banished Words in the English Vocabulary, Urges Ultimate Vocabulary – Software For Vocabulary Improvement (prweb.com)
- Gifts for the Word Lover (julieglover.com)