Tuesday, September 11, 2007

How Good is Your Vocabulary?

Alabama is not known for its high educational standards. Considering how Alabama only recently upped the skill level on its High School Exit Exam from 8th to 11th grade, it’s amazing I was ever accepted into a good college. (However, I did go to the mock test and am sad to say I would probably not pass the math portion at this time. Stupid Algebra.)

Then I find this—The 100 Words Every High School Student Should Know (according to the American Heritage Dictionary, at least.)

Yeah, right. Trust me, I’ve taught A LOT of Freshman Comp classes. I’ve never met an 18-year-old with this vocabulary. While I can say that I’ve least seen these words before, there are a couple that I’d want to look up before I committed myself to a sentence containing them. (But, then, I am a product of the Alabama Public School System, even if I did pass the Graduation Exam the first time I took it—in 10th grade, mind you.) Anyway, while I think this is an impressive list of words, there's a lot of basic vocabulary I'd rather have 18-year-olds understand instead of some of the more unusual ones on this list.

I’m reprinting the list in its entirety below. Take a look. Do you know all 100? Are any of your favorite 50-cent words missing from the list?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

abjure
abrogate
abstemious
acumen
antebellum
auspicious
belie
bellicose
bowdlerize
chicanery
chromosome
churlish
circumlocution
circumnavigate
deciduous
deleterious
diffident
enervate
enfranchise
epiphany
equinox
euro
evanescent
expurgate
facetious
fatuous
feckless
fiduciary
filibuster
gamete
gauche
gerrymander
hegemony
hemoglobin
homogeneous
hubris
hypotenuse
impeach
incognito
incontrovertible
inculcate
infrastructure
interpolate
irony
jejune
kinetic
kowtow
laissez faire
lexicon
loquacious


lugubrious
metamorphosis
mitosis
moiety
nanotechnology
nihilism
nomenclature
nonsectarian
notarize
obsequious
oligarchy
omnipotent
orthography
oxidize
parabola
paradigm
parameter
pecuniary
photosynthesis
plagiarize
plasma
polymer
precipitous
quasar
quotidian
recapitulate
reciprocal
reparation
respiration
sanguine
soliloquy
subjugate
suffragist
supercilious
tautology
taxonomy
tectonic
tempestuous
thermodynamics
totalitarian
unctuous
usurp
vacuous
vehement
vortex
winnow
wrought
xenophobe
yeoman
ziggurat

16 comments:

Playground Monitor said...

This is a joke, right?

No wonder Alabama is so far behind. Instead of teaching them the difference between your and you're, they're confusing them with hegemony and ziggurat.

Nini said...

I teach remedial reading for the 6-8th grade level. My students are having a hard time on mop, stop, drop...and my vocab lessons thru the board of ed have me teaching communicate, immigrant, trend, etc...

I have a 1000 flash cards with words that our kids should know before they graduate middle school...

If you put in a search for "Dolch 1000 words", you'll get a PDF file that shows you, in addition to the vocab words of the lesson, are the words i need to teach my kids. They're sight words...and not many know them.

Nini

I'm tired this a.m. and saw "ULTMHHOU" as the verification word...thought it said ultimate hoo hoo's...

Smarty Pants said...

A lot of these words seem science based. Whereas photosynthesis is an amazing process, I have to say if kids are still having trouble with there, they're, and their... the energy production of chlorophorm based plant-life is a little out there (note there not their or they're).

I do not know all these words, but I find them to be a randomly assembled group of words. I mean, dowdlerize? I have no idea what that means, but I doubt it will ever show up on some kid's text messaging screen..dwdlriz, perhaps?

Jen said...

Part of my daughter's LA assignment this year is to take 30 assigned words and write a story incorporating at least 20, in correct context, in a story. Each week. Last week's words: malapropism, nonplussed, postlude, hierarchy, portly, interdiction, vide, omnibus, monolithic, imponderable, benediction, incredulous, omniscient, neophyte, unilateral, hypothecate, heterodox, paterfamilias, putative, aver, metaton, sangfroid, alter ego, altercation, contravene, circumlocution, soliloquy, mollify, gregarious. So...take 20 of those suckers and build them into a story. This would be difficult for me to do. But I'm glad she's doing this. They're learning Latin and Greek stems. However, I want to talk to her teacher about when they will cover sentence construction and tying ideas together because when I read through her stuff, it's just not happening. In her defense, it must suck to have a mom who is a writer and notices this stuff. :(

Instigator said...

Um, I don't know quite a few of these words. But you know what? I do know how to use a dictionary if the need for a definition arises. I think that's probably a more important skill to teach than some of these which will NOT appear in normal life unless the child goes on to be a rocket scientist (in which case college level courses should cover that education deficiency....)

I mean, yes, I'm all for increasing the intelligence of our childen. And I agree that the exit exam I took to graduate from high school was WAY too easy so I'm glad that they've increased the standards. But seriously, lets concentrate on words they might actually use.

Instigator

Nini said...

Jen...what grade is your daughter?

Nini

Lynn Raye Harris said...

Oh dear. There's a few of those I'd need to look up! I think I know them, but if I had to actually define the word, I'd be at a loss for what to say. I didn't know about hubris until I was in college, for heaven's sake! Do high schoolers discuss hubris in context of anything? I learned it in literature courses (naturally while discussing some character's boneheaded choices that made the book so godawfully depressing and, therefore, literary). Sheesh.

Rhonda Nelson said...

What the bleep is a ziggurat???

Wait, I'll ask Wiki...
A ziggurat (Akkadian ziqqurrat, D-stem of zaqāru "to build on a raised area") is a temple tower of the ancient Mesopotamian valley and Iran, having the form of a terraced pyramid of successively receding stories.

How could I have gone my WHOLE LIFE and not known this? :-)

jen said...

Nini, she's in 7th. She's part of what's called Venture, the "gifted" program -- their word, not mine. I think she's more an overachiever than gifted, but she still had the test scores to go in and I'm happy about that. She has Venture LA and Venture Science and accelerated math. And all that said, she's terrible at their, they're, and there. But she comes by that naturally. I always have to expend brain cells on your and you're. ;)

Jen said...

Cause you've led a deprived life, Rhonda, that's why. LOLOLOL! Okay, I couldn't even hazard a guess at moiety -- 1. a half 2. an indefinite portion.

Alright, one of you step up and tell me how it can be half and an indefinite portion.

Kathy said...

I can't find dowdlerize in Webster's Dictionary. What is it?
Okay, I'm glad my dictionary is nearby. Some of these words are down right strange.

They started taking 11th grade level graduation exams when # 1 was in High School. It's so easy, 9th and 10th graders are passing it. All mine did, except 2, my girls, had trouble with the Social Science portions in 9th grade. But...they passed it by 10th grade.

Kathy

catslady said...

ziggurat is not in my webster dictionary. I'd say maybe half could be pertinent words but I doubt if most people would use them.

Lynn Raye Harris said...

Ah, just looked up bowdlerize! This is one we should know, fellow writers. It means to prudishly censor literature, movies, tv programs, etc. Named after Thomas Bowdler. Apparently, he decided that Shakespeare contained some objectionable parts for children and women, so he removed the bad content. Can you imagine?! ==:0

Problem Child said...

Bowdlerize was one of the ones I knew--thanks to far too many Shakespeare classes.

Bowdler would faint at the content in Jen's and Rhonda's books

Problem Child said...

I knew ziggurat because that's what we used to call the library at UT...it looked like one.

Interestingly, ziggurat is not int the Firefox dictionary that checks my comments for spelling...hmmm

Jen said...

I'm flattered at the thought of my book throwing someone into a faint. ;)