Words around us

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JUST as a kangaroo carries its young one in its pouch, ‘kangaroo word’ is a word that carries within it a synonym of itself. For instance, ‘encourage’ is a kangaroo word because it carries ‘urge’ within its spelling and ‘evacuate’ is another one as it has ‘vacate’ in it. ‘Urge’ and ‘vacate’ are thus ‘child’ words, or ‘joey’ words. Some more such kangaroos are exist (is), façade (face), assured (sure), spoiled (soiled) and illuminated (lit). Try spotting the joey of indolent, rotund, utilise, recline, clue and appropriate.

Learn a little

Most learners worry about vocabulary and try to achieve proficiency through lengthy lists. A vocabulary is not composed of long words solely; it also includes language forms that are not full words (e.g. un-, -ment), compound words (e.g. supermarket) and phrases (to make up for). In the first five years of learning, language users need to learn around 2,000 most useful items. These high-frequency items remain with them always. Later on, as per profession, they usually pick up around 1500 low-frequency items that may or may not be specific to their field.

Intriguing words

Words reflect the world around us. The economic concerns of the past few years have created words that are a spin-off on financial practices. Taking a cue from Levitt and Dubner’s freakonomics, the word ‘freeconomics’ was coined to give a label to ‘the business practice of giving away goods and services as a means of gaining new business or retaining existing customers’. To pay attention to ecology, environmental conscious economic practice was termed ‘ecolonomics’. ‘Womenomics’ acknowledges the increasing role women play in economics and ‘enronomics’ pays tribute to the Enron company by giving a name to any business practice based on fraudulent accounts.

Precise usage

The addition of one article, ‘the’ can change meaning. When a warning is issued or an announcement is made, you say: ‘In future, anyone returning books late will pay a fine’. But when you are talking about an event at some time in the future you say: ‘In the future, it is quite possible that a new source of energy will be discovered’.