O likes to try out new words in Tamil and English. She is neither embarrassed nor put off by wrong usage and pronunciation. Even when we laugh at her slips, she takes it in her stride (when it comes to most other things she can’t take a joke, and will cry).
She has a stack of notebooks: she copies interesting poems into one, writes reviews in another and maintains a dictionary too.
The last few months, apart from old faithfuls like Enid Blyton and Animal Ark series, she has been reading new authors, which means new words. JRR Tolkien (Bliss), Roald Dahl and JK Rowling.
So these days she is ‘horrified’ by her sister’s drooling; her pencils not finding its way back home is a ‘mystery’; she doesn’t tell me things, she ‘blurts’ it out; she does not feel sad, she feels ‘sick’; her stomach doesn’t ache, it feels ‘queasy’…
She will use words and then as an afterthought ask me what it means.
After a day of new-words-overuse (and abuse), I asked her why she used words she didn’t know the meaning of, she said: “I like to use the words I read, how else will I remember it.”
Good point. I used to do this in school, college and in my initial years as a journalist. Note down interesting words/idioms, their origin, quotations, snippets from mythology and I would try and put it to use. The book below is from 1994, which I guess I used till 1999 at least (the year I came here, so must have travelled with me).
Then work interfered with interests… Somewhere down the line, the passion to learn new things seems to have dimmed a bit (it definitely hasn’t gone away totally)… I tried learning Arabic — which I read quite fluently, comprehending zilch! I can’t speak a word of it either. Why? Probably because, the excitement is no longer in the learning (it still is for O), but in getting another qualification on my CV.
In recent years, it’s been so much about meeting deadlines, keeping abreast of politics, politicking and making a living, there has been little time to luxuriate in learning for the pleasure of learning. I can’t remember the last time I made a hand-written note of an interesting quote or word. I dash off prints and put it up on the wall, but it doesn’t register in the same manner as putting pen on paper.
My note-taking habit was learnt from my father. Now I shall re-learn from my daughter.
I am back to doing this, noting down interesting stuff and attempt to put it to use. Maybe a word, maybe an idea. Even a shortcut advice…
Try it. You definitely remember things better when you write it down.