“Audition,” by Said Sayrafiezadeh. The New Yorker, 9/10/18.

(Vocabulary postings are words or phrases I recently came across in reading, did not fully understand, looked up, and discovered something new.)

As I read, I keep my computer tablet at my side and quickly look up words that I do not know, or words I have only assumed their meaning from their context. Often, I am surprised. This piece of fiction had several; others I found elsewhere.

Euphemism: A less-offensive word or phrase used in place of an offensive one. Baby potty words are mostly euphemisms, such as “wee-wee” and “poo-poo.” A racial example is “women of color” (good!) instead of “colored women” (bad!).

Tautological: A phrase that sounds logical, but simply repeats the initial premise in  similar words, or even the same words. The example I hear over and over is, “It is what it is.” Can’t argue with that.

Solipsistic: This has a complex meaning that I have long struggled with, but often only means very self-centered.

Trope: An overused figure of speech, a cliché; an overused theme or devise.  Can be applied to characters in a play or car designs.

Vapid: Flat, dull, lacking interest.

Tatty: Worn, shabby.

Cyborg: a live fictional creature, human or otherwise, whose abilities have been extended with mechanical implants.

Nexus: Center, focal point. Example: The library became the nexus for new ideas. It can also mean a connection, as in, “the nexus between poverty and crime.”

If you have any insights, please send them. I am certainly no expert in vocabulary, as my high school English teachers would confirm, or would even laugh at the very idea. I am just struggling to keep up.


About Roger Walck

My reasons for writing this blog are spelled out in the posting of 10/1/2012, Montaigne's Essays. They are probably not what you think.
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