About the Author
Lewis started his teaching career at New York University and the City College of New York. From 1964 to 1995, he taught English—including grammar, etymology, and vocabulary—at Rio Hondo College, a two-year community college in Whittier, California. For more than a decade, he was also the chairman of Rio Hondo’s communications department.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Your boss has a bigger vocabulary than you have.
That's one good reason why he's your boss.
This discovery has been made in the word laboratories of the world Not by theoretical English professors, but by practical, hard-headed scientists who have been searching for the secrets of success.
After a host of experiments and years of testing they have found out:
That if your vocabulary is limited your chances of success are limited.
That one of the easiest and quickest ways to get ahead is by consciously building up your knowledge of words.
That the vocabulary of the average person almost stops growing by the middle twenties.
And that from then on it is necessary to have an intelligent plan if progress is to be made. No hit-or-miss methods will do.
It has long since been satisfactorily established that a high executive does not have a large vocabulary merely because of the opportunities of his position. That would be putting the cart before the horse. Quite the reverse is true. His skill in words was a tremendous help in getting him his job.
Dr. Johnson O'Connor of the Human Engineering Laboratory of Boston and of the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey, gave a vocabulary test to one hundred young men who were studying to be industrial executives.
Five years later, all, without exception, of those who had passed in the upper 10 per cent had executive positions, while not a single young man of the lower 25 per cent had become an executive.
Some of the factors that lead to success can be measured as scientifically as the contents of a test tube, and it has been discovered that the one and only common characteristic of outstandingly successful people is "an extensive knowledge of the exact meaning of English words."
Vocabulary is one indication of intelligence. Learning power measurably sharpens when vocabulary increases. Here's the proof.
Two classes in a high school were selected for an experiment The ages and background of the members of both groups were the same, and each group represented a similar cross-section of the community. Otoe, the control class, took the normal courses. The other class had, in addition, special and rigorous vocabulary training. At the end of the period the grades of the students in the vocabulary class surpassed the grades of the members of the control group, not only in English, but in every other subject, including mathematics and the sciences.
Similarly, Professor Lewis M. Terman of Stanford University has found that a vocabulary test is as accurate a measure of intelligence as any three units of the standard and accepted Stanford-Binet I. Q. tests.
Words are the tools of thinking. It naturally follows, then, that the more words you have at your command, the clearer and more accurate your thinking will be.
Words are your medium of exchange, the coin with which you do business with all those around you. With words you relate to people, communicate your feelings and thoughts to them, influence them, persuade them, control them. In short, through words you shape your own destiny. For your words are your personality; your vocabulary is you.
Words are explosive. Phrases are packed with TNT. A single word can destroy a friendship, can start or end a marital battle, can land a large order. The right phrases in the mouths of clerks have quadrupled the sales of a department store. The wrong words used by a campaign orator have lost an election. Four unfortunate words -- "Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion" -- used in a Republican campaign speech threw the Catholic vote and the Presidential victory to Grover Cleveland.
Armies fight for phrases: "Make the world safe for Democracy"; "V for Victory"; "Remember Pearl Harbor."
Words have changed the direction of history. Words can also change the direction of your life. They can raise a man from mediocrity to success.
We submit that if you methodically increase your vocabulary you will improve your chances for success.
This book enlists active cooperation, continuous written and oral response. It will test you every step of the way, it will demand unceasing feedback from you, and thus it will make words your friends and allies.
We expect to prove to you that developing a rich and robust vocabulary can be both fun and challenging.
Give us fifteen minutes a day, and we will guarantee that at the end of a month, when you have turned over the last page of this book, your words, your reading, your conversation, and your life will all have a new and deeper meaning for you.
For words can make you great!
Copyright 1942 by Wilfred Funk, Inc.,
copyright © 1970 by Funk & Wagnalls, --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.