On Acquiring a Large Vocabulary
But how useful in a society of semi-literates?
How does one acquire a large vocabulary? The first rule is to read, read widely, and read worthwhile materials, especially old books and essays. The second rule is to look up every word the meaning of which you do not know or are not certain of: don't be lazy. The third rule is to compile vocabulary lists. The fourth rule is to review the lists periodically and put the words to use. Use 'em or lose 'em.
But what good is a large vocabulary in a society of semi-literates? Not only is it of little use, it can harm relations with regular guys social intercourse with whom can be useful. Among the latter, one needs to pass oneself off as one of them. Use 'big words' and you will strike them as putting on airs, whether or not you are — not that the semi-literates would understand this old phrase.
While alive to and appreciative of the good in people, one should not overlook the prevalence of the mean, the paltry, the envious, and the resentful. In this joyous season, and in every season.