Andrew's studying for the GRE which means that I kind of am, too. I was reviewing some of the vocabulary they suggested one learns before attempting the GRE--they challenged me, as the reader of the prep book, to use the words in my daily conversations and activities.
So I remembered the word axiom. Actually, I only remembered what it meant--I couldn't remember the word itself, just that it started with ax-. I got out the GRE prep book and looked up the word I wanted to use. Andrew said that I shouldn't use it if I didn't know what it meant. But I told him I did know what it meant. It meant universal rule...another word for maxim.
He then proceeded to tell me that I can't just put "axiom" down and have it mean what I want. I have to fit it in the context of the sentence and use the proper form and so on.
Thanks, Prof. Andrew, since I was a linguistics major I might not have figured that out any other way. Thanks for the heads up.
(He felt silly about telling me that the minute he told me that--so don't tease him because he already feels bad).
Speaking of people who feel bad...I would like to mention that cacophony is still mentioned as a good word to know for the GRE. When I read that word I smiled because it reminded me of a story of a certain someone (*cough* Reid *cough*) who was having their wife help them prepare to take the GRE. They were going over vocabulary when they came to the word "cacophony."
Karen thought it would be kind of funny if she told Reid it was pronounced "CA-ca-phony" instead of "ca-CO-phony." So she did. And since the word was somewhat new to him, at least audibly, he began pronouncing it as "CA-ca-phony."
Apparently they gave the same advice way back in the day to use the vocabulary in your daily life so that you really learn the words. Multiple exposure to a word is one of the best ways to learn it. For example, I've used the word axiom six times today so it's pretty solid in my mind right now. The other words I read today that I didn't previously know really aren't.
Anyway, Reid went to work at dear old General Reference, where Andrew works now. Trying to show off his vocabularic finesse, Reid was sure to use the word "CA-ca-phony" in a sentence loud enough for several of his co-workers to overhear.
Needless to say he was quite embarrassed when his co-workers started harassing him about his pronunciation. He did well enough on the GRE, though--at leas, he made it into grad school so we can assume he did well (only because they didn't make him say the words out loud on the test).
Unfortunately for me, Andrew's knowledge of Latin roots far outweighs my own. Stupid Italian. He's so much harder for me to trip up...