It may come as a shock that a lot of folks aren’t able to read the Time magazine. Why? Because they are hamstrung by their limited vocabulary. Let’s take the case of Time magazine’s May 25, 2009 Asia Pacific edition. In this edition we came across the following thirty six words among others:

  • celibacy
  • genocide
  • alleviates
  • sybaritic
  • abstinence
  • pedophilia
  • encomiums
  • filibustered
  • indictment
  • alacrity
  • fester
  • vigilante
  • syncretic
  • subterfuge
  • détente
  • burgeoning
  • coalescing
  • xenophobia
  • audacity
  • sophistry
  • dissembling
  • avowals
  • frenetic
  • loathe
  • abattoirs
  • lacquer
  • purported
  • feisty
  • diabolical
  • immaculate
  • repository
  • bizarre
  • ghoulish
  • fondant
  • ensemble
  • virtuoso
  • cadenza

    I am sure you are familiar with some of the words given here. While, with a few others you may well guess the meanings from its usage and context. Still, you may well draw a blank with the remaining few.   Remember that this is an Asia Pacific avatar of the magazine published in the US. Research has shown that most people will have difficulty with close to 120 words in the US edition of this magazine. That is why, people inconvenienced by ordinary vocabulary, may well gloss over the Time but may not actually read it. So, how much are we missing out because our vocabulary happens to be high school level? A large chunk of our world, I would say. If a popular magazine has a few words that you don’t understand, think what you are missing out. Add up the articulation that goes into pedagogical works and treatises. Yes, there is a whole lot that is out of your reach. ‘So how do I improve my vocabulary’, you may ask. Vocabulary building is serious stuff. You have to do it methodically, systematically and with a clear goal and time-line. The timeline and goal are clearly in your own private domain.

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