If you want to be a great communicator, do you need to have a great vocabulary?
You might be surprised to learn that a really big vocabulary is not necessary in order to express yourself clearly and to move others with your words.
Some of most dramatic messages that have ever been uttered in English language actually used very simple words to stir blood, or touch heart.
Look at any well-known passage in Bible. Chances are that passage does not rely on sophisticated words to create its power.
Think of Lincoln’s Gettysberg Address. Although President Lincoln spoke in a style that is very different from way we usually speak today, his words still have power to move us deeply with their clarity and their deep emotion. During darkest days of World War II, Winston Churchill’s rousing speeches to British people used very simple, common, powerful words to successfully ignite courage and determination of his people.
So if it’s possible to communicate effectively without using a lot of very big words, why should we bother to try to expand our vocabulary? The reason is that learning new words expands our understanding and improves our “mental muscles”. Every new word we learn entices our mind to stretch into new areas.
When we have a larger bank of words to draw on, we improve our ability to think and express ourselves. Our thinking will become more fluid and supple, and we will understand more of world around us and within us, when we have a larger vocabulary. In modern world ability to use words effectively is often highly rewarded.
The English language has an enormous number of words, perhaps more than half a million of them. Most people however, use a vocabulary of just a few thousand common words on a daily basis. It is possible to get by in English language with a limited number of words, but you expand your options as you expand your vocabulary. When you understand very few words, you are limited in your ability to learn new information.
If you want to increase your vocabulary, there are many approaches you can use. One good way is to read books or articles that are slightly more difficult than what you are accustomed to. When you come across a word you don’t know, see if you can figure out its meaning from context. Look at way word is made up, with its letters and syllables. Does it remind you of any words you already know? What parts of it are familiar?
Many words in English language are made up of common roots they share with other words. You may be able to deduce meaning of new word from way syllables are put together and way it is used. You should consult a dictionary to be sure.
If you come across a word you don’t understand during course of a lecture or a conversation, you can ask someone to explain meaning of word. Many people are reluctant to do this because they are afraid of exposing their ignorance by asking.
It is occasionally true that other people may choose to look down on you if you confess that you don’t understand a certain word. On other hand, they may be happy to teach you something new. If you decide you don’t want to ask anyone else for meaning of words you don’t know, be sure to make a note of those new words and look them up later.