1. Linguist Geoff Nunberg wonders what exactly students learn when they’re flipping through those SAT vocabulary flashcards —-


"Faith in vocabulary begins with the belief that every new word you learn comes tied to a new idea. But the words you study are always tied to old ones. That’s what flashcards are for, to pair exotic words with familiar ones: "amicable" means friendly, "superficial" means shallow. That’s all you need to know to answer those SAT sentence-completion questions. "They tried to interest her in many things but they couldn’t overcome her _______." Should it be (a) apathy, (b) fervor, (c) acuity or (d) aloofness? It’s “apathy,” of course — what they want you to do is fill in the blank with the word that makes the resulting sentence least interesting.”

[Image: timlewisnm/flickr]

    Linguist Geoff Nunberg wonders what exactly students learn when they’re flipping through those SAT vocabulary flashcards —-

    "Faith in vocabulary begins with the belief that every new word you learn comes tied to a new idea. But the words you study are always tied to old ones. That’s what flashcards are for, to pair exotic words with familiar ones: "amicable" means friendly, "superficial" means shallow. That’s all you need to know to answer those SAT sentence-completion questions. "They tried to interest her in many things but they couldn’t overcome her _______." Should it be (a) apathy, (b) fervor, (c) acuity or (d) aloofness? It’s “apathy,” of course — what they want you to do is fill in the blank with the word that makes the resulting sentence least interesting.”

    [Image: timlewisnm/flickr]

  2. geoff nunberg

    Sat vocabulary words

    vocabulary

    sats

    Fresh Air

  1. Geoff Nunberg will reveal his word of the year today

    (Last year, his word of the year was no. In 2008, it was Joe.)

    Any guesses? What word do you think meant the most this year?

  2. word of the year

    geoff nunberg

    linguistics

    vocabulary