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English Detective #40, Engaging with work and life: June 3, 2014
June 03, 2014
Your First Clue: Vocabulary Emphasized in this Issue
Review vocabulary: challenge, crucial, network. (See crossword.)
New vocabulary: engagement (and disengaged), entrepreneur, grit, intrapreneur, perseverance, stamina, talent.
A few notes about the new vocabulary:
Engagement is emotional involvement with a job or an issue. If someone is disengaged from their work, they still go to work and put in their hours, but they are not very interested. They do not identify with the company or care very much if it does well, and they are not willing to make sacrifices or a great effort for it to succeed.
An entrepreneur is a person who is willing to take the risks of starting a small business rather than working for someone else. The ‘entrepreneurial spirit’ is an attitude of ambition, self-confidence, and willingness to work long and hard to make a business succeed.
Grit-- see the Wordplay activity below.
‘Intrapreneur’ is a new word (now accepted in dictionaries) for people who work in larger companies but are allowed a lot of freedom to manage a section as if they were entrepreneurs. They show a willingness to try new ideas and take big risks for potentially big rewards.
To persevere is to keep on working on something as long as necessary. Perseverance combines patience and determination.
Stamina is strength and endurance-- the ability to keep going for a long time, even when tired.
Talent is natural ability in some skill or art. Talented singers, actors, writers, or sports players have a head start toward success, but talents must be trained and developed to reach full potential.
Getting the whole story: reading/listening practice:
Click here for the article on engaging the millennial generation. (You might have to click on a button to enter the mobile site before getting to the article. Keep going!)
Here is the TED talk on grit. (You can look at the transcript-- the written text of the talk-- just below the title.)
Follow the Clues (Vocabulary Practice):
Click here(or right-click to download) for the crossword and here for the answers.
The word ‘grit’ originally described pieces of sand or fine gravel -- rough small particles people don’t want rubbing against their clothes or fine furniture and damaging them. We also talk about “gritting our teeth”-- to clench them tightly together to help endure pain-- or to determine to do what must be done in a very hard situation.
The meanings of ‘grit’ slowly expanded to describe character as well: a person with grit is tough and determined and will not give up easily. (Note that ‘tough’ is another word that started with a simple physical meaning and is now used for personality as well.)
So something gritty is covered with grit or rough and unrefined. You can read reviews about “gritty” movies and gritty (working-class, tough, and possibly dangerous) neighborhoods.
There are many similar adjectives for personality traits that come from words for textures and other physical metaphors from the sense of touch.
We might call a negative, unpleasant person ‘abrasive.’ (He or she “rubs you the wrong way” and is uncomfortable to be around, like rubbing sandpaper against tender skin.)
When we call a person ‘warm’ or ‘cold’, we’re usually not talking about their temperature. Can you think of other adjectives like these?
Here are a few more: rough, soft, hard, steely, spineless, prickly, smooth, and delicate. Think about the connotations of each word-- not always the same when applied to people as when used about things. I love feeling smooth surfaces, but smooth-talking salespeople make me uncomfortable-- I don’t trust them. ‘Steely’ and its near-opposite ‘delicate’ can be compliments or insults, depending on the circumstances.
I suspect the connotations vary by culture, as well. (I believe the delicate princess who couldn’t tolerate a dried pea under many mattresses was admired-- or envied-- when the story of the Princess and the Pea was first told many generations ago. Now ‘grit’ is admired and many would despise her.)
What about in your area/culture/group of friends? If you have any comments or ideas about similar words (in English or not) I’d love to hear them. Just send a reply to this email, below. I can include it in the next issue-- with or without your name, as you like. ______________________________
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Coming in next month: “The Power of Good”-- stories of Holocaust rescues.
In case you missed these: Earlier issues of English Detective have articles on a number of topics, plus practice with all 570 words from the Academic Word List. You can check them out with the link to the back issues page below (or find what words were practiced each issue here.
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