Do you get a bun with that?
Here’s the deal: I have the vocabulary of a horse-fly.
While this wasn’t so much of an issue when I did nothing all day but read People magazine, my glaring word deficiencies became apparent to me once I started at VIU. Always willing to be the person who asks stupid questions in class (in fact, stupid questions are the only kind of questions I ask), I’d put up my hand.
“What does ’empirical’ mean,” I called out in the middle of class. And then, later, upon coming across the word hegemony:
“Well,” said my professor, “some people pronounce that hu-gem-a-nie.”
“Right,” said I. “How should I pronounce it if I want to sound less illiterate?”
He repeated his pronunciation, and I wrote it down phonetically as best I could, so that later I could stand in front of the mirror and practice it, all part of my campaign to pretend that I actually belong at VIU and not, say, on a reality TV set somewhere.
Over the last couple of years I picked up a few words here and there, so as I can now compose a sentence that doesn’t appear to have been written by a second grader. Ever eager for a chance to show off how S.M.R.T. I am, this morning when discussing my recent cruise with my friend, Kim*, I said, “frankly, it all felt a little bourgeoisie.”
“Bourgeoisie?” said Kim. “What is that? Like a soup or something?”
“Do you get a bun with that?” Kim asked.
I nodded. “Sure. It’s like a gumbo.”
“Really? Because I was thinking something chilled. Like vichyssoise. That’s all I could think of.”
“Nah,” I said, “that’s more of a compote. Bourgeoisie is more of, you know, bullion-based.”
This, right here, is one of the benefits of a university education. As much as I enjoy learning historical facts about Canada, I am particularly thrilled by the opportunity to increase my vocabulary, and furthermore the vocabulary of my friends, whether they want me to or not.
*Actually her real name. I didn’t check with her before using her real name in my blog, but I am sure she’ll be thrilled. Right, Kim?