Friday, March 25, 2016

Bring Back The Dictionary!

Last night, after writing my first blog posting in quite some time, I started brainstorming on what to write next. I'm trying to decide what my purpose is going to be with this blog, what I will write everyday. What can I write everyday? What do I know enough about? From there I moved on to, 'Well, what did I write about yesterday?' 

I wrote about why I couldn't write, and answered my own question and decided on my solution. My solution to not being able to write was to define words. I took how I was feeling, which was doubtful and guilty, and I defined those words and really analyzed how I was feeling. Through that process, I felt better, almost instantly, and I was able to write. 

Going back to my dilemma of what to write everyday, I started thinking, 'I solved my  problem. Well, what else can I solve by defining words? Why should we define words?' I decided that I encourage defining words because it's important to know the real definition, or the true meaning of a word. Besides important, it's exciting! You'll hear me say a lot that I feel we don't really know what a word was meant to mean. In our heads, we apply our own understanding and associate that definition with the word, instead of the intended meaning. I'm guilty of it, too! 

I'm terribly guilty of this. I just think I know what a word means. Of course I know what it means! But do I really? Do any of us, really? How many of us can say we know what a word as simple as doubt means? Without cheating, without going and looking it up. I usually just know the feeling that goes along with doubt. I know that I doubt myself; I don't believe in myself. 

How many of us know that doubt, in it's entirety, means a feeling of uncertainty or lack of conviction? 

This dilemma always leads me to my usage of the dictionary, which I use very often. Everyday, multiple times a day. I have an iPhone, and I take full advantage of the dictionary built right into my phone. All I have to do is highlight a word that I'm not sure if I've used correctly and within a fraction of a second, I have the full definition at my fingertips! 

During my thought process, I decided to move on to, 'Well, what am I hoping for? What am I hoping to achieve by bringing attention to this?' 

Am I hoping for a more intelligent world? Population? To make people more aware? 

I didn't really come up with an answer for that, but I lingered on the word intelligent. Was I hoping to promote intelligence? Can I impact someone's IQ? Is that simple enough, or is it too complex? Can I even accomplish something like that, hoping to raise the average populations IQ? 

We all hear the word IQ a lot. I mean, a lot! Again, when I hear that word, I know what it means. Or, at least I think I do. I know it's referring to how smart someone is. Whenever I come across a word that I think I know, I instantly tell myself I don't. I make myself take the extra ten seconds and look it up, and I am often amazed! Truly amazed. How many people know that IQ actually stands for Intelligence Quotient

I'm sure I knew this at one time, but it didn't stick with me. Intelligence quotient means an assessment of your ability to think and reason. Huh, simple enough, right? I think everyday, I reason everyday, but this definition is seriously lacking! It falls short of what IQ actually means, because it means so much more than that, and I love it!

I'm going to ramble off a few definitions here, which all pertain to the original definition of IQ.On paper this list of definitions acts as a tree, starting with IQ and taking each word that we don't know the true meaning of, and defining that word, finding another word within that definition and defining it, and so on and so on until we have the full meaning of this word laid out. It's so much more satisfying than just, 'an assessment of your ability to think and reason.'

Intelligence Quotient - an assessment of your ability to think and reason 

Think - use one's mind actively to form connected ideas. 

Reason - think, understand and form judgements by a process of logic. 

Intelligence - the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills. 

Knowledge - facts, info and skills acquired through experience or education. The theoretical or practical understanding of a subject. Awareness or familiarity gained by experience of a fact or situation. 

Quotient - a degree or amount of specified quality or characteristic. 

Degree - the amount, level or extent to which something happens of is present. 

So, with all of these definitions, I'm still kind of swimming, but I can pick out what I need from each definition and figure out what intelligence quotient actually means. My curiosity and thirst for knowledge was finally satisfied, and I decided on this; 

Intelligence Quotient refers to how able you are to use your mind to think, understand and form connected ideas and judgements by a process of logic. 

This definition is far more satisfying, and it means so much more! I suppose my purpose or hope is to make people more aware of this, this right here. How much we are missing, how much is truly lacking from what our minds and vocabulary was intended to be. Someone intended so much more than what we think and say! Or, at least I hope they did! 

Use your dictionary! Take the extra ten seconds to look up what a word actually means! Sit there with your nose in the dictionary and just soak up all the knowledge that was intended for us to use! Tell me about it, because I truly love this and want to know that someone else does, too! Tweet me at @TresaWriter! Email me! Comment below! Tell me all about what words you know and don't know and come to know! Happy reading and writing, friends! 


  1. Yay! More than 140 characters :) Essentially the reason your blog is exactly what I've been looking for is, that I couldn't agree more with what you wrote.

    I'm not a native speaker and I had this insane idea to improve my English by committing to writing short fiction/poetry for one year in English only. I thought my Achilles heel would be grammar and that finding the right words would more or less be a matter of spending a ridiculous amount of time looking them up until finding the right ones and that a feeling for them would come over time. Little did I know.

    It turned out that the biggest problem would be, that there's no way for me to grasp what certain words mean for a native speaker. I often have no idea what their definition is, what mental images they create or what they feel like. For example this 'writer' vs. 'author' debate when 'translated' into German isn't quite the same anymore :D

    There are other problems with words I haven't quite figured out yet, but, long story short, it feels like what you write is tailor-made for me! And it feels great to know that there are others like me who spend a lot of time trying to figure out what a few letters really stand for :)

    1. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment! I'm so glad you enjoyed the post. That is a big problem, the idea that we associate with words. The idea we associate isn't always what the word actually means. I am guilty, too. At times I'll have an idea of what a word means, but I'll end up wrong. I basically live in the dictionary!

      Though, I have heard that if you want to be a better English writer, it pays to know German. A professor once told me it helped you to understand English on a different level.

      Good for you for committing to bettering yourself in such an intense way!

      I'm curious what you mean when you say that 'author vs writer' translated into German doesn't mean the same thing anymore. I'm curious what meaning it takes on.

    2. Aww, you're very much welcome! I'm sure I'll comment more often :)

      I think the biggest, well, oddity, is when people collectively agree on a wrong meaning of a word - regardless of language. You can't look it up and often times you don't even realize it until it's top late and you spent hours thinking about why on earth people just didn't get what you wanted to express.

      I've been thinking about what you said about knowing German helps to be a better English writer, but haven't come to a conclusion yet :D Did he say why he thinks so? Do you speak some German?

      One of the reasons might be that it's quite easy to sound like a 18th Century lawyer, a very dull and humorless one, when you stick too close to how you would write in German. It's very precise though ^^

      The reason why the discussion of 'author vs. writer' is different is quite complicated to explain. I try to keep it as short as I can. :) Basically the discussion takes place on a different level.

      The German words are: author = “Autor” and writer = “Schriftsteller”. In some cases they are used synonymously by most people – but essentially they mean different things.

      “Autor” is a broader term than “Schriftsteller”. It is used for anyone who has written something. Like for example: Comics, lyric, drama, fiction, non-fiction, a blog, a newspaper article, an instruction manual, you name it. In a legal context the term is even broader and is also used for copyright holders of creative non-literary works like movies, music etc. The latter is important, because legally speaking you are the “Autor” and hence copyright holder of one of these 'creative works' regardless of its publication.

      If you do call yourself an “Autor” you often add what you write, like: I'm an author of children's books or I'm the author of a blog. Never the less people will expect that they can read something you've written somewhere, because: Who really does know legal definitions anyway?

      “Schriftsteller” → “Schrift” = script/text; “stellen” = provide
      Historically a “Schriftsteller” was someone, who provided texts, like a lawyer. Today it's used for someone who's occupation/job it is to write literary texts like prose or poetry on a more or less regular basis. Writers of non-fictional texts are rather called “Autor”. (Think: Schriftsteller = writes and publishes 'pretty' literary things as opposed to instruction manuals.) A “Schriftsteller” always is an “Autor”, but not every “Autor” is also a “Schriftsteller”.

      You can argue whether or not it must be someone's main occupation, but there's no such thing as an unpublished “Schriftsteller”. There's just: I wrote something. If you call yourself “Schrifsteller”, people will expect that they can buy your works somewhere.

      And here is where the German version of this discussion takes place. If you want to call yourself “Schrifsteller” and you need to have been published for that, does self-published count? Can you only call yourself “Schriftsteller” if you've been published on paper? Can you call yourself “Schrifsteller” if you donate all your work and never make any money? The German 'writers guild' (Schriftsteller Verband) does not accept members who only are self-published. So, you need to be a “Schriftsteller” to become a member, but does that mean you aren't one if they don't accept you?

      I don't know if there really is a simple answer to these questions. I personally would say, that it only matters whether or not people have to pay for your published works in some way and that the self-published vs. published discussion will end sooner or later, because of the changing book market, but who knows?

    3. Very interesting. I truly enjoyed reading that. I love exactly that kind of comparison.

      No I don't speak German. I am German and I wish I had time to learn German! I don't exactly remember why it makes you a better writer, but I would imagine the reason is like what you said. It makes you speak in a different sense, more professional perhaps.

      So, the difference between the words is exactly the difference we place in our minds on the words in English. Very interesting.

      Thank you so much for explaining that to me. I enjoyed that.

    4. I agree; it shouldn't matter. The difference should be whether or not you can purchase someone's written work vs not. Self publishing, I agree, doesn't make you any less of w published author.

    5. Yes! I think it's quite interesting how as little as the definition of two words can define a very important part of a culture and create so much angst and insecurity! :)