My vocabulary was large. My lack of formal education equaled it.
And that was the problem. As a self-taught and community, educated scholar, my professors ran the gamut of Colombia, Boston College, and the Bowery. They were displaced ascetics, random college dropouts, and those who’d won their doctorates on street corners and coffeehouses. That was par for the course, so to speak, for the 1960’s scene in which I was involved.
The problems were threefold: lack of discipline, random coverage, and many times have never heard the word I was using because I’d never heard it in a discussion. I fractured perfectly sound statements by terrible mispronunciations of words like abstemious. To this day, I can think of about three ways to murder hors d’oeuvres, one of which is faintly obscene.
When I made it to college, a few of my peers found it easy to abhor me for this habit. They’d made the entry to college via more traditional routes: application from high school, SATs, professionally edited essays, being a legacy for dad, or having pops make a large contribution to the school.
From them, I learned a new word – arriviste -which I promptly and deliberately mispronounced.

4 Replies to “Vocabulary”

  1. Oh the joys of long complicated words. Mind you can be quite amusing when you get those blank stares as people don’t know what you’re saying. I’ve been a chef for years I still can’t say hors d’oeuvres correctly!

    1. The blank stare – how true. Especially when you mispronounced the word, but they don’t know it, and they’re furiously thinking “what the hell could it be?” Followed by a slick recovery, and an “of course!”

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