In the fast-spinning world of texts, tweets and emoticons, it can seem quaint and old fashioned to remember there are actual words that make up the English language. Lots and lots of them, some of which are common, others that have slipped from usage save the occasional crossword puzzle or Scrabble game
Longtime elementary school teacher Roger J. Maderia has come up with a delightful device to remind adults and students alike that stretching one’s vocabulary can be a noble — and surprisingly challenging –pursuit. The first in a series that will go on to include the entire alphabet, Maderia has coined the word and gimmick “versability,” a conceit that groups vocabulary words not only by letter and subject matter, but then takes it a step further by turning definitions into rhymes. Think Dr. Seuss meets Wheel of Fortune:
“The antelope is a long horned deer.
The appaloosa is one type of horse.
Aoudads are North African sheep.
Anteaters do eat ants, of course.”
The idea is that words and their meanings are more easily remembered if they are grouped with similar concepts. (“Binds are some difficult situations./ Behavior is the way a person acts./ A bribe wrongly pays for service./ Budgets hold household finance facts.”) The gimmick can feel a little strained at times, but Maderia deserves credit for cramming hundreds of vocabulary words (336 A’s alone) into roughly 30 pages per letter. At the bottom of each page, there is a “Rhyme Time” which gives a clue and challenges readers to find their own rhyming definition. “A coconut tree ointment” is what? Palm balm.
Certainly this isn’t for everybody, but it’s fun and addictive for anyone who treasures the English language. Those, of course, would be the word nerds.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.