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    Thursday
    May192011

    Vocabulary

    I traveled back to Tulsa yesterday with daddy, a niece, and a nephew, to be with grandma.  She continues to decline, but her body and spirit remain strong.  As she roused for moments at a time, we were able to tell her that we loved her.  We saw extended family, two aunts and an uncle, and talked with others on the phone.  Stories were told and retold, gaps in grandma’s journal were filled in, and the younger generation was able to take part in comforting their great-grandmother.  It was a good day.

    Are you ever plagued, and I do mean plagued, with a song that just will not leave you alone?  It reverberates in your mind all day long.  Phrases, or complete stanzas, pop in and out of your head.  You mindlessly hum the melody.  Well, lately, I have been having that same problem, but with a single word.  It is one I recently learned from our eldest and then researched.  I haven’t thought about it much since my first exposure, but beginning last evening, on the way home from Tulsa, it is ever with me.  It was even one of the first things I thought about this morning.

    Being a generous soul, I want to share this rarely used, you-may-never-come-across-it-again, word with you.  We should be ever striving to increase our vocabulary, right?  Gonfalon.  Gonfalon, gonfalon, gonfalon.  Makes me also think of the words gondola, Gandalf, and falconry.  (An ‘alliteration’ type of thing)

    Definition of GONFALON  \ˈgän-fə-ˌlän, -lən\

    1: the ensign of certain princes or states (as the medieval republics of Italy)
    2: a flag that hangs from a crosspiece or frame

    Origin of GONFALON

    Italian gonfalone
    First Known Use: 1595
    gon·fa·lon [ gónfə lon ] (plural gon·fa·lons)

    noun

    Definition:  identifying banner: a banner suspended from a crossbar, often with an edge cut like streamers, used as the standard of some medieval Italian republics or carried in church processions

    [Late 16th century. Via Italian gonfalone< Old French gonfanon< Germanic, “war banner”]

     

    Said eldest son will bear a Gonfalon during the commencement exercises for his university on Saturday.  For the graduate school.  This is the second year he has had this honor, and he’ll be decked out in all his regalia.

    New words, expanding our minds, broadening our horizons.  It is always good to learn new things.  Whether it is for a hobby, a job, or for pleasure.  Conversation becomes richer, our understanding of the world is enhanced, and we feel a little more connected.  It is good for our brains and our bodies.  One of the easiest ways to increase your vocabulary is by reading.  These days we can’t use the excuse of the library being too far away.  Novels, technical works, dictionaries - they are all online.

    While reading, for pleasure or purpose, look up any words you do not know.  Find out the meaning and research the etymology and spelling.  Encourage your children to do the same.  Reading will improve not only vocabulary, but also communication, and composition and spelling skills.  You’ll notice the many words in this article that are a different color.  Click on one to see how easy it is to discover definitions and pronunciation guides.

    I hope Gonfalon will not be rattling around in your head all day.  But if it is, just replace it with a new word. 

    Or turn on some music.