Friday, March 21, 2008

Grad School Vocab Project

Up until about a year ago, I'd always thought of myself as fairly well read, fairly erudite, and as having a fairly large vocabulary. I mean, I did read the dictionary and all (yes, just like Olive in ...Spelling Bee). My illusions were all shattered, however, when I started grad school. Every day I was coming across more and more words that I just didn't know, and couldn't work out from their context alone. Thus was born the Grad School Vocab Project.

The first word, which is my new favorite word, was quotidian. As in, "Some folklorists suggested using Quotidian Studies as the name for the discipline, because clearly, that's easier to explain than Folklore Studies." (Those silly folklorists!) When I got home, I ran to my computer and looked up quotidian. I had to look it up at least three more times, and devise sneaky ways of using it in casual conversation, before I could finally remember what it meant!

Quotidian: Daily or recurring daily. Usual or customary; everyday. Ordinary; commonplace.

Since then, I've been compiling a list of words from reading and discussion that seemed important to know in grad school. It's a work in progress, to be sure, but you can find it all here. I'll keep updating here, too.

Let me know if there are any words you like or feel should be included!


Rob G said...

I love the idea of this, but it might be even better if the definitions were supplemented with examples... but that's a lot more work! If you ever want help, let me know - and you should include "overdetermination."

Maureen said...

your blog explains my emotions when i entered the CS program. as a teacher, who had done quite well for herself in previous academic programs, i was horrified by these new strange words of theory. i also couldn't keep their definitions straight.

so i did the old fashion thing, but similar to you, i wrote them down. now, i have a crappy section of my black book called Cultural Studies Dictionary.

lets just say, i am so glad that i am not the only one.

Jenni said...

Rob, my quick search in for overdeterministm was fruitless - care to shoot me over the definition? And/or an example? ;)

Maureen, you are so not the only one :) Any particular favorites?

Anonymous said...

you might be interested in looking at this -- there's a sociolinguistic study of the jargon curve in academic culture.... shows how over time young academics increase their use of jargon...peak use in grad school, then curve dips down slightly after that.
cousin Deb

Anonymous said...

overdeterm..comes from Marxist theory... but also used in lit. crit.. it's when the meaning or outcome of something is given or inevitable, a product of a set of forces already in play. I'm gonna stop now before I get in trouble...
cousin Deb

Tripp said...

Calling all Word Nerds!

This web site is humbling even for the most advanced of word nerds..but it mercifully uses repetition to reinforce the learning of even the most difficult of words..thus, making the learning curve mercifully less steep:

By the way, isn't "wheels" a metonym for a car?