Learning English, part 2 — tales of an Italian writing in English on Medium.

Why it takes me twice the time (or more) to read an article.

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It’s all about the vocabulary, even if on Medium, I seldom find unknown words. Medium is one of the few online places where my reading flows free and I don’t need to search for many words. Many of the writers I read (and there is you among them, reader) do not use so much technical language, so I don’t find hard to follow their work.

I normally expand my word list reading technical websites or news articles, but also author interviews. The last one I read was a Joyce Carol Oates’ interview on The Guardian and both her and the interviewer have used completely new words for me. I think you’re going to have fun seeing that I discovered such words at the tender age of 37, but every time I learn one new word, I feel quite excited. My teacher in Secondary School taught me well.

The words I learnt through J. C. Oates’ interview are: ego-vaunting, that means showing off one’s own ego with pride and the verb to bolster, which mean to support. And now on with the list of the next ten new words I learnt in the past few months through my extensive English reading:

to skimp: to give something in a very small quantity for fear it will end.
rye: a kind of cereal.
ergot: a kind of fungus that attacks rye and other cereals.
toadstool: a kind of poisonous fungus.
argot: slang, jargon.
posthaste: quite fast.
inasmuch: this is an adverb, a synonym of “since”.
to coax: to persuade
brogue: a big shoe, it looks like a boot.
smug: pleased by one’s self.

Well, this was part of my extensive vocabulary, courtesy of my online reading. And to consolidate my ability with them, I’m jotting down an impromtu text, using all of the words above:

I skimped the rye of the last harvest for fear of ergot; I know toadstool can be very dangerous. The kids don’t care about it, though, inasmuch they want to feel smug about their favorite breakfast. I coaxed them into choosing Captain Crunch instead. Now who’s smug? I tie on my brogues and go out posthaste and for the first time in my life, I didn’t use argot with my children.

Please, feel free to comment and correct! I really need it.

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