The other day I was reading somebody’s blog post when I realized that there are certain words I never use when I write. The word that first caught my attention was whereby. I went over to my blog and used the search button to see if I had ever used this vocabulary item in any of my posts. At that point, my blog turned into a little corpus for a while.
My suspicion was confirmed – no hits whatsoever. So I started playing with some other words for the sake of comparison. As it turned out, I have my favorites and there are words which I know but constantly avoid using.
Why is it so? Well, to be honest, I often catch myself circumventing expressions I’m not absolutely sure about. Obviously, coming up with an alternative is just a safe way out but doesn’t result in much learning.
So, I’m up to a little experiment. From now on I’m going to have a list of words I wish to incorporate into my writing always near my laptop. These items will be anything interesting I come across while reading stuff – single words, collocations, or grammatical structures. I know all too well that just jotting something down into a notepad and staring at it won’t necessarily enrich my writing. So I will only allow myself to cross a word off of the list once I’ve actually used it.
If this strategy works for me, I’ll recommend it to my students as well.