As some of you know, I'm planning to take the Graduate Record Exam in April. I'm contemplating a return to school, and it's required if I want to enter a graduate program. My future is somewhat in flux, so I'm looking at my opportunities. I'll keep you folks posted when anything significant is actually decided.
So that explains why I have been reviewing vocabulary. I'm not hitting the vocab too hard because I'm relatively strong in vocabulary, but I have looked through some tools to help bolster your vocabulary with words you're likely to encounter in the test. Shades of meaning are important, since you're asked to identify synonyms and antonyms for words. A subtlety of the meaning will often make the difference in your answer.
Maggie has made up some flash cards, which will definitely be helpful, and we've got some study books. But in this age of MP3 players, there are also vocabulary podcasts. Some are even free!
I came across one such podcast and listened to an episode at random. The voice was a bit difficult for me to understand; the speaker did not sound like English was his first language. Still, I figured I could manage it even when he stressed the wrong syllables in his pronunciations. I learned a word that I had never used before, which was encouraging. The podcast was enhanced so that you could see the words displayed on the screen of an iPod while you were listening -- a bonus!
But then I hit a big speed bump. It was another word I had never used before: "BELLINGERENT."
The reason I have never used it before is because it is not a word. It's a misspelling of the word "belligerent." He had the definition correct, at least. But his pronunciation and his spelling wrong, like a cross between "belligerent" and "malingering."
As you might imagine, this was the end of my use of this particular podcast. If you're going to give me vocabulary, you need to do it accurately.
I looked up the word I had never used before: "badinage." Synonyms are "banter" and "ribbing." The definition given by the podcast was "witty banter." I feel like that definition has an additional shade of meaning not found in any of the references I have since checked, and it seems just enough to sink a tricky exam question.
Thanks, but no thanks! Sometimes, free can cost you more than you expect!