Bob will update vocabulary ­ he gives his word

Bob will update vocabulary � he gives his word by Bob Karolevitz I always thought I had a good vocabulary.

The Benedictine Sisters at acred Heart School taught me well, especially in the spell-downs. I�m happy to say that the curiosity about words stayed with me.

Today I know what chalcedony is. I can define existentialism, and occasionally I use common expressions like mystic, mayhem and mushroom in a sentence.

Now, however, there�s a whole new language I�ve got to learn.

Take the news reports from the Middle East, for instance. You can�t understand them at all if you don�t know the meaning of mujahedin, loya jurga, intifada and hajj. We hear words like Jihad, burqa, falafel and hawala, and they�re supposed to mean something.

Incidentally, none of them are in my trusty dictionary or Roget�s International Thesaurus which I�ve come to depend on.

(By the way, did you know that Englishman Peter Mark Roget � pronounced Ro-say � published his first catalog of words in 1852? He died in 1869 at age 90. But I digress.)

I was taught that �u� always followed �q� � like in acquire, acquit and equilibrium. Now I�ve got to unlearn that rule so I can get used to Al Qaeda, Qatar, Abu Qatada and Jalaludin Haqqani.

And I thought Polish was tough!

Pity the poor commentator who has to pronounce Zacarias Moussaoui, Larissa Vdovichenko, Al-Zawahiri and Ramzi bin al-Shibh.

Where is simple old Al Smith when you need him?

Then there are all the words from the dot.com age. I pretty much understand down-loading, browsing, surfing and logging-on, but megapixels, cryptographic software and G4 chips are all Greek to me.

Oh, and I�ve got a question for Bill Gates: Is more than one mouse on a computer pad mice?

Maybe I should go back to school, but I wonder if I would know what the teacher was saying.

Of course I could go to Harry Potter�s Hogwarts School, which brings up another language dilemma. I try my best to keep up with our 9-year-old grandson, Sam, but I�ve got to admit that our conversation lags when the subject of the Golden Snitch comes up. I�m also not good at talking a bout the Sorcerer�s Stone, Albus Dumbledore, the Gryffindor House or Quidditch competition.

At least in the latter �u� follows �q�.

I haven�t even tried to keep abreast of all the new drugs being advertised today to cure everything from hangnails to bad breath. I�ll leave Nexium, Lipitor, Pravachol, Vioxx, etc., to the pharmacists and doctors. That�s a language all its own.

One thing is certain. My vocabulary sure isn�t the same as it was in the good old days. Even the old-fashioned Scrabble words like ohm, axe and aquarium are now superseded by cyber, modem and byte. Crossword puzzles aren�t the same as they used to be either.

But I don�t want to be labeled as an old fuddy-duddy, though. I�d like to be one of the new generation guys, with words to prove it.

Right, dude?

� 2002 Robert F. Karolevitz

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