For the language to be effective, an important prerequisite is abundant vocabulary or word power. Words are the very essence of written communication. Words translate thoughts and carry the message through to the reader.
They lay emphasis as and when required. Since words have the potential to make or mar the language of the business communicator, this aspect has been dealt with in some detail in the following paragraphs.
The world of words, is wonderful and fascinating. English language has an enormous stock of words. With new words being added constantly, the stock of useable English words keeps growing.
The Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary (2000 edition) gives as many as 80,000 words and references covering both British English and American English. This vast and growing reservoir of words offers, at once, both an opportunity and a challenge to the communicator.
It is an opportunity because there is a tremendous choice of words available to the person. It is a challenge no doubt, for the building up of word power calls for a systematic and ongoing effort, using familiar words and learning new words. One can easily spend one’s lifetime learning new words, understanding their shades of meaning and effectively using all the words available.
Words make the letter. A good letter writer should choose the words with care. To do so, one must necessarily build enormous word power. Every person keen on becoming an effective communicator should delve deeply into words and their meanings.
Most of the words have many shades of meaning. The appropriate word or set of words depend on the context, tone and gravity of the message and also on the relationship with the person to whom it is addressed.
Much as one would like, it is not always possible to readily recall the exact word. As a result, one may often find oneself groping for the right word. Any person keen on building word power and using the most appropriate word in every piece of write up must take recourse to a Standard English dictionary and also Roget’s Thesaurus.
Until a writer gets a fine command over English words, and even thereafter when a reconfirmation is required on the shades of meanings a word conveys, constant reference to these two sources would be immensely helpful.
It is worth emphasizing that the author of this book has made umpteen references to these sources while writing this book. To make it clearer, let us take a look at a few words and try to understand all that they convey.
Take, for example, the word ‘communication’. Roget’s Thesaurus refers to the following shades of meaning:
Joining, Transfer, Intercourse, Information, Messages, Oral communication, Conversation, Epistle, Passageway, Giving, Social intercourse.
Each one of them is in turn elaborated under different sections with nouns, verbs, adjectives and exclamations associated with the word. One
of the meanings of communication listed above is information. In turn, the word ‘information’ covers the following:
Enlightenment, Light, Acquaintance, Familiarization, Instruction, Intelligence, Knowledge, The know, The dope, The goods, The swoop (all slang), Communication report. Word, Statement, Mention, Notice, Notification, Intimation, Sidelight, Inside information, The low-down, Tip- off, Point, Pointer, Hint, Indication, Suggestion, Suspicion, Inkling, Glimmer, Cue, Clue, Scent, Telltale, Implication, Allusion, Insinuation, Innuendo, Gentle hint, Broad hint and many more.
Let us take another word, ‘satisfaction’. The thesaurus again refers to the following shades of meaning:
Adequacy, Satiety, Reparation, Fulfillment, Duel, Payment, Pleasure, Content, Reprisal, Atonement.
Out of these, let us take a look at the word ‘content’. Again, this word could mean the following: Content, Contentment, Contentedness, Satisfiedness, Satisfaction, Ease, and Peace of mind, Happiness, Complacency, Bovinity, Self-satisfaction, Self-contentedness, Satisfactoriness, Sufficiency, Adequacy, Acceptability, Admissibility, Tolerability, Agreeability, Objection ability, Unexceptionability and many more.
Since vocabulary building is of immense value to a communicator, we are giving below some more examples of words and their meanings.
Take for example the word ‘piece’. It essentially means a small amount. There is a range of words to talk about this aspect. The communicator or writer should be in a position to choose the right word to go with the substance being talked about. The range of words relevant here are: Piece, Bit, Chunk, Lump, Fragment, Speck, Drop, Pinch, Portion. Similarly, when you want to say someone is fat, you have to choose the word most appropriate from the following range:
Fat, Overweight, Large, Heavy, Big, Plump, Chubby, Stocky, Stout, Obese.
Apart from knowing the word, it would also be desirable to know the various words belonging to that word family. Some examples of this are: Rely, Reliable, Reliability, and Reliance. Perceive, Perception, Perceptive, Perceptible.
There are also words whose meanings are close to each other. One should be clear about the fine difference that exists to be in a position to choose the right word. Some examples of such words are: Condition, State Classic, Classical Altogether, All together
All the above examples and many more such helpful suggestions are highlighted in the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary. The point to be noted here is that words in the English language have multifarious connotations and uses. There are words which convey the same meaning but each one perhaps has a context where it fits in perfectly.
Similarly, there are many words belonging to the same word family. A good writer must build up his word power in such a way that words of all kinds are on top in memory, or as an alternative, the writer has ready access to sources like the thesaurus.
In the absence of a proper supply of words, the smooth flow of writing gets obstructed. Groping for the most appropriate word or even just a sufficient word causes frustration.
In letter writing or any other written communication, it is very essential that words are not frequently repeated. Repetition tends to irritate the reader. If you come across a particular word repeated again and again in a sentence and the sentences that follow in the same paragraph, the reader is likely to get a poor impression of the writing.
To be able to avoid repetition, the writer should have a good stock of equivalent words or synonyms. Synonyms are words identical and coextensive in sense and usage with another of the same language.
Ivor Brown, in his introduction to the third edition of Roget’s Thesaurus, has beautifully summed up the significance of word power and its effective use for any good writer. He says, ‘Words as well as ideas are the raw material and that he requires in good supply.
But words can be the decoration as well as the tools of good writing. This does not mean that they should be splashed around recklessly: a good artist with the riches of his paint box at hand does not use them in a lavish or slapdash way.
The artist considers, selects and blends tints to get both strength and delicacy in the finished picture. So it is with words. To have a copious supply and to use it with judgement is an excellent foundation for good writing and for the possession of what is called style.’