I like reading books that use words that I do not know the meaning of. That might seem strange, but it encourages intellectual humility. I made a long list of vocabulary words and dutifully looked them up when I read Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment many years ago. I had the same experience when I read A Secular Age by Charles Taylor (an amazing book, by the way, which made me feel like I had climbed a high mountain when I finished it). I would estimate that I found at least 75-100 new words or words I had seen but could not remember what they mean in each of those two books.
Anyway, I just finished the chapter titled, “So To Speak”, from Joseph Epstein’s book Narcissus Leaves the Pool and I found three fun words which I will probably never have the skill to use myself:
- Malapropism: an act or habit of misusing words ridiculously, especially by the confusion of words that are similar in sound
- Polyglot: able to speak or write several languages; multilingual
- Simper: to smile in a silly, self-conscious, often coy manner
As I am writing this blog post, I can hear my wife reading a book to my 12 year old son and that sounds like music to my ears.