I love to read. I often settle down with a book just to unwind “for a few minutes” only to discover—three hours later—that I truly was unable to put it down until I read the last page.
Reading is a good way to develop your vocabulary. And increasing your aptitude with the English language will help you score higher on the SAT test. That’s a fact.
“You’ll need [a good vocabulary] to score well on all three parts of the SAT, not to mention later in life,” says Eric Anderson, a private SAT tutor in New Tampa. He added, “Reading widely and actively is the key to expanding vocabulary.”
The National Council of Teachers of English states that English teachers have a responsibility to choose a curriculum based on a book’s contribution to “the education of the reader, its aesthetic value, its honesty, its readability for a particular group of students and its appeal to adolescents.”
For example, students may be required to read John Knowles’ A Separate Peace—partly because “the book has received wide critical recognition,” according to NCTE. I was required to read A Separate Peace in school. At least, I think I was. Along with The Scarlet Letter, Beowulf and a bunch of other books that bored me so thoroughly I’m unable to recall whether I read them or not.
This photo taken by English teacher David Woo. Image licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0. See David Woo's teaching blog at http://davidjameswoo.typepad.com/blog/
I’m sure my teachers introduced the concept of nouns, verbs and adjectives as they function to form sentences. I’m equally sure these concepts had me drifting off to sleep or, more likely, sticking my nose in some illicit book hidden inside my textbook.
Reading and the Joy of Discovery
I remember very well the day I got my very first library card—on my fourth birthday. I remember reading nonstop when I was in school. I certainly remember winning a full-ride scholarship on the basis of my English SAT scores.
I love mysteries. Murder mysteries. Gory, bloody, serial killer thrillers about people who struggle with dark and twisty souls—I’m talking about the good guys here—and tangle with brutal sociopaths who torture their victims to death, keep “souvenirs” and arrange the mutilated bodies in sickening displays of psychotic art.
What can I say? I started reading my older sisters’ vintage Bobbsey Twins, stepped it up with Trixie Belden and eventually graduated to Nancy Drew. It was only a matter of time before I turned hardcore with Mary Stewart and Victoria Holt. An Unsuitable Job for a Woman by P.D. James was probably my rock bottom.
Despite the lurid nature of the books I like to read, I still pick up interesting facts and new words from them. For instance, I recently learned from Chelsea Cain’s latest Beauty Killer novel The Night Season that “octopus” is a third declension Greek noun, not a second declension Latin noun, and the plural is “octopuses,” not “octopi.”
This is not just a casually interesting fact. This is an essential piece of information for all Michigan-born hockey fans who are watching their beloved Detroit Red Wings embark on yet another journey into the Stanley Cup playoffs.
A special moment for real Red Wings fans.
Image created by jpowers65. Licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0 only. See more of jpowers65’s photos on Flickr.
For the Red Wings, an Original Six team, the eight-armed octopus is a tradition symbolizing the eight games it once took to win a Stanley Cup. When the National Hockey League levies delay of game penalties and sanctions the Wings with heavy fines because their exuberant fans hurl a symbol of pride, it’s essential that everyone understand that octopuses are splattering all over the ice, not octopi.
A little knowledge is never enough. Reading leads to more reading. I discovered on Language Log that the nominative Greek singular oktopus is oktopodes in the plural. Despite this fact, A Dictionary of Modern English Usage, according to Wikipedia, states that “the only acceptable plural in English is octopuses,” and octopi is misconceived and octopodes pedantic.
Oh? So even though “octopodes” is the correct plural form of “octopus,” modern linguists—for a reason only understood by linguists—decide to toss it out and settle on “octopuses” instead. Because “octopodes” is pedantic.
Reading to Develop a Better Vocabulary
I’ve always wondered what pedantic meant and now I’m going to have to find out. Considering the context, it must mean something terrible.
See how this works? Do you know what “pedantic” means? Look it up! You know you want to…
Guest blogger Kate Rowland, a multiple-award winning journalist on state and national levels, enjoyed writing this pedantic article for I-Tutor-English.com, a private tutoring company serving Florida students in New Tampa, Lutz, Wesley Chapel and Odessa.