9 September, 2009

Guest Post: Wordlily

The first of many guest posts from my fellow bloggers. This one is from Hannah Nielsen, whose website, wordlily.wordpress.com is a true home for a bibliophile. It also happens to feature a review of A Disobedient Girl today.

Addendum: Just came across this website on words: http://savethewords.org/

I’m honored to be offered this platform for today.

On my blog I have a regular weekly feature — Words from my reading — in which I post the words I’ve recently read, in books, that I was previously unfamiliar with. I include the word, the definition, and the sentence from the book that contains the word.

Here, instead of explaining all the different aspects of each entry, I’ll just give an example:

coir, n The prepared fiber of the husks of coconuts, used to make matting and rope
page 11, A Disobedient Girl by Ru Freeman
“Then she climbed on a low bench and took her blue dress off the coir rope where she had hung it to air after the last time.”

I started doing this earlier this year because I realized that my vocabulary had most likely shrunk from its laudable size in my school years. I’ve always liked learning new words, but since I’m not taking classes and certainly not turning in vocab lists every week for a grade, I found myself realizing I was not even retaining my vocabulary, let alone burgeoning it.

So I slowly acknowledged that to slow this ebb, I needed to act. I get a steady influx of words — I read a lot. What the situation required was a way of capturing those unfamiliar words.

We know that multiple encounters with information makes the likelihood of retention rise. So, I thought, what better way than to blog about these words? This means I’m not only reading the word, but I’m also:
2. writing the word down, along with the page number and part of speech,
3. typing the word,
4. typing the quote,
5. looking up the word, and
6. typing the definition.

This is a definite increase in the number of times I’m engaging with each new (to me) word, so hopefully I’ll learn what they all mean and even remember them the next time I read them.

I also figured that by posting these words on my blog I may boost the vocabulary of my readers. Nothing wrong with that, eh?

A (somewhat) unexpected and unintended side effect: Sometimes there’s a peer pressure element. I’ve made a commitment to post all the words I don’t know, even if I think a word is probably one many people know, or if it’s one I used to know but couldn’t remember when I read it. This has taken some courage, but I’ve stuck with it.

As I’ve continued to collect and post new words, I needed a way to put them all in one place, so I’ve created my Words page. It contains all the words from my words posts, along with their definitions. And instead of being in order of the book I read them in, they’re in alphabetical order. Fitting, yes?

Lastly, I’d like you to join me in wishing Ru Freeman a very happy birthday — using whatever words you desire — in the comments. Happy birthday, Ru! I hope it’s grand.

6 Responses to “Guest Post: Wordlily”

  1. Jen Forbus says:

    Very cool concept Hannah. I’m always intrigued by words, too. When I use to teach English, I had an extensive vocabulary program for my students, and one of the things they had to do was find the vocab words in things they read and create a vocabulary journal of the sitings. They all moaned and complained, but I had a couple students come back later and tell me how much it helped them. Words are just cool!! So is your feature. And I love that you’re not worried about whether people will think your words are “easy” or “should be known.” You go, girl!!

    And a very happy birthday to Ru as well.

  2. Kathy says:

    I try to keep track of new words, too. Even after all that, some stick and some don’t. Happy birthday, Ru!

  3. WordLily says:

    Thanks, Jen!

    And yes, I agree: SaveTheWords.org is a cool (if overwhelming) site!

  4. Margot says:

    Even though I read your weekly new-words posts I didn’t know how or why you started doing it. This was a very interesting post. Also, it’s nice to find a new-to-me blog and new-to-me author.

  5. softdrink says:

    I’ve always loved this idea, but I get so caught up in the story that I never want to stop to look up the word, and then write it down. Although now that I’ve added a dictionary app to my iPhone I’m hoping it’ll be easier…I can just look it up and then bookmark it.

    Happy birthday Ru!!

  6. lisamm says:

    I never ever used to bother looking up words. If I couldn’t figure it out from the context, I just guessed or didn’t worry about it. But recently, due to your weekly posts and another meme (Wondrous Words Wednesday) I’ve made note of unfamiliar words and, even if I don’t look them up immediately, I do go back and check them out at dictionary.com. Frequently I’ve guessed correctly, but sometimes my guess is completely wrong, so I’m glad I started doing this. Thanks for a really interesting post, Hannah!

    And Happy Birthday, Ru!

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The Books:

The Books:

On Sal Mal Lane

In the tradition of In the Time of the Butterflies and The Kite Runner, a tender, evocative novel about the years leading up to the Sri Lankan civil war.

A Disobedient Girl

A Disobedient Girl is a compelling map of womanhood, its desires and loyalties, set against the backdrop of beautiful, politically turbulent, Sri Lanka.


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