The limits of my language means the limits of my world. (Ludwig Wittgenstein)
Adapting the vocabulary: the preparation of our lexicon.
According to Oxford English Dictionary, the English language has more than seven hundred thousand words, including ancient words that are no longer in use. However, English speakers use about eight hundred words for everyday communication. The rest of the English words are not in common use or belong to a specific context exclusively, for example, the medical terms or the technical language of engineering studies.
Oratory abilities can come in handy in a large group of situations: sometimes we have to make a speech in front of an audience, sometimes we have to defend an academic thesis or give a class. In all those cases the vocabulary we use has a strong impact on the quality of our speech.
Formal Vs informal
Our speech can be considered «informal» if we have to make a speech for an unplanned event, it also happens when the organization of an event isn’t full of protocol. If that’s the case, the speaker would dress as he or she considers appropriate for the occasion. Also, the language that the speaker should use could include these techniques: speak familiarly with your audience, make funny jokes, use colloquial expressions… In other words, when speaking in an informal event we should communicate with a simpler language. It is not necessary to include specialized vocabulary, exact technicalities or social formalities.
The formality of an event usually depends on its protocol strictness. For example, the defense of an academic thesis or a project presentation for a company. Those are cases that require «formality» in the dressing style and speech. Although you can laugh and manifest a happy attitude, jokes are not welcome when it comes to formal presentations, neither are rude manners nor burlesque tone. The speaker must maintain composure and use a specialized vocabulary according to the speech subject.
The characteristic of the audience will determine if the speaker is free to use a simpler language or, on the other hand, have to adjust his lexicon according to the speech theme.
Which type of audience is listening you?
Are your audience newbies on the topic to be discussed?Is your presentation made for people who want a general knowledge of the subject to be presented? If so, we should use a simpler language, avoiding the excess technicalities. In this way, the public will easily process the new concepts because the information will be presented simple and clean, without unknown words that require an extra effort of understanding.
Using simple language that can be easily understandable for anyone will reassure your audience. It will prevent them from suffering mental dullness while listening to you. However, it also depends on how much time you have to complete your speech. The use of complex concepts will come in handy when you need to save some minutes.
How to increase your vocabulary?
- There are no shortcuts, no tricks and no quick way to increase Your lexicon. There is just one solution only: reading. You have to read about the topics you are interested in on a daily basis. Read more often the work of famous writers and researchers, read magazines, newspapers, read about what’s happening, what’s new, read articles on all kind of topics, as many as possible, even if you are not naturally interested in it.
- Practice by finding the synonyms and antonyms of different words. Think about a word and try to find all the words that have the same meaning. Then, find all the words that mean the opposite. Do this every day and you will create a bank of words that will allow you to speak without repeating the same words again and again.
- Surround yourself with people who are also striving to increase their lexicon.
- Play crosswords or scrabble.
- When reading, use a highlighter to mark the words that you would like to start using from now on.
- Write your ideas trying not to repeat words.
- Take the dust out of your dictionary and start using it.
- Use the «word of the day» service that most of the online dictionaries offer to their subscribers.
- You must choose your vocabulary carefully based on your immediate context, and the strictness of the event formality you are attending to.
- In formal events (such as academics) the use of specialized language is the more appropriate.
- Daily reading is the main source of a good, rich vocabulary.
Take a moment to think about this quote
The excessive richness of vocabulary often conceals poverty of thought.
What do you do to increase your lexicon? Write it in the comments below!…
We can be contacted by:
Discord: @alcidescadiz#6964, Twitter, facebook.