Monday, March 31, 2014

What makes vocabulary obscure?

The announcement of new changes to SAT vocabulary has been greeted with both relief and skepticism. While it seems like good practice to abandon the rote memorization of archaic words for, ostensibly, one-time use on an assessment test, where is the threshold for the “broad utility” of words? How specific can we ever be without the obscure words? Andy Smarick of the Fordham Institute cautions us about scrapping too many obscure words in this very valid post.

“I vividly remember a seventh-grade English teacher telling our class, with great solemnity, ‘Small minds use big words.’

For years, this guided my writing.

Until I figured out how wrong, how profoundly wrong, she had been."

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