Secrets to vocabulary
Now we'll give you an example of how easy and effective our word power system is. For each word we'll be doing these four steps that you’ll do on your own.
One, I’ll pronounce and spell the new word. Be sure to repeat the pronunciation after me so that you have it right. Two, I'll define the word. Three, for some of the words I’ll explain the origin and the meaning of the root when it’s useful. I'll give their prefix and its meaning as well as the suffix. Four, I’ll use the word in several or more sentences.
We've already talked about the word circumspect. That means cautious, watchful, to look around before taking action. Here's another one you've probably seen and heard: proprietary, p-r-o-p-r-i-e-t-a-r-y. Remember to repeat the pronunciation after me: proprietary. The basic meaning of proprietary is privately owned and it’s usually associated with products manufactured, sold and patented by a particular firm. Let's use it in a sentence: “Pharmaceutical companies introduced new proprietary drugs,” or “a computer company might develop proprietary software.
Our third word is syndrome, s-y-n-d-r-o-m-e. Syndrome is a pattern or a set of symptoms characterizing an abnormal state. If you've done any jogging, possibly you’ve heard of runner's knee syndrome; or countries with financial problems may have a dangerous syndrome of high inflation. Here's a clue to remembering it. The Greek prefix syn, s-y-n, means together and the root dramon in Greek means to run. So think of syndrome as a series of several small streams of trouble all eventually running together to form a big river of troubles. Other words with this prefix syn meaning together are syndicate, synthesis, synergy.
The fourth word is one that has to do with prestige and status. It's cachet, c-a-c-h-e-t. In my book I said that a Rolls Royce, designer clothes or Tiffany jewelry are a few of the expensive status symbols in our society that confer a sense of cachet on the person who owns them; prestige or status. Cachet is something many people work very hard at getting and in some circles it's more important than money. Here's a memory tip. If you can cash a check-this is a plan the word cachet-if you can cash a check in the best restaurants, you obviously have a good deal of prestige.
Parameter, p-a-r-a-m-e-t-e-r, is our fifth word. Parameter. Parameter used to be strictly a scientific word of relative measurement, but in recent years it's gone public so to speak and we the public use it in a sense of a guideline or criterion. For example, One of the government's parameters of foreign policy,” or “At the Board of Directors meeting, Paul asked about the company's marketing parameters, guidelines or criteria.” The prefix para, p-a-r-a, which means along side of is found in other words such as paralegal or paramilitary. In parameter, the element meter, m-e-t-e-r, comes from the Greek metron, m-e-t-r-o-n, a measuring stick. So parameter is literally a measuring stick along side of what is being measured. Be sure not to make the mistakes that many people do to confuse parameter with perimeter. Perimeter is the outer edge of a boundary. Perimeter and parameter are two very different words.
Gregarious Mary is both a politician and a poet. The anomaly in her personality is that she is both outgoing and circumspect. She embraces an ambition for the cachet of a potent vocabulary with which she can adroitly confound her political opponents and additionally she can express her ideas in the form of blank verse. When running for election, she uses the subterfuge of repudiating her opponents with pejorative comments about their abilities to comprehend the parameters of public policy. One might say that her opponents display a syndrome called being tongue-tied. In her work as a poet, she has developed an almost proprietary style of writing in which the verbal images have an asymmetric quality that impress the readers with their uniqueness. Extrapolating from our description, you can imagine that Mary's nemesis is conformity. Her mastery of vocabulary is striking and memorable.
我们已经讨论过circumspect这个单词了（见《疯狂英语》21期），它的意思是cautious, watchful, to look around before taking action(谨慎的，慎重的，在采取行动前向周围看)。下面这个单词你可能已经听过了：proprietary, p-r-o-p-r-i-e-t-a-r-y。现在，跟着我念这个单词, proprietary。这个单词最基本的意思是privately owned（私有的），它常与某一个公司生产、销售或受专利保护的产品有关。我们现在把它用在句子里∶Pharmaceutical companies introduced new proprietary drugs. （医药公司推出了新的专利药品。）A computer company might develop proprietary software. （一个电脑公司会研制新的专卖软件。）Proprietary是以拉丁文“proprius”，p-r-o-p-r-i-u-s，为基础发展而来的，它的意思是for one person（一个人的），因此，我们又有了另一个字proprietor，这是a storeowner（一个业主）的意思。
第三个单词是syndrome，s-y-n-d-r-o-m-e。Syndrome是a pattern or a set of symptoms characterizing an abnormal state（显示非正常状态的一个模式或一组症状）的意思。如果你曾进行慢跑锻炼，你就有可能听说过跑步膝关节综合症，或者出现金融问题的国家可能会有高通胀的危险征候。给你们一个记忆的窍门。来自希腊语的前缀syn，s-y-n，是together（一起）的意思，而来自希腊语的词根dramon是to run（跑）的意思。所以，你可以这样想：一系列的不同问题的小溪流渐渐汇集，形成了一条有各种问题的大河。还有另外一些单词与syn（一起）这个前缀有关，如syndicate（财团）， synthesis（意义正确但不符合语法规则的句子结构），和synergy(协同作用)。
第五个单词是parameter, p-a-r-a-m-e-t-e-r。Parameter本来完全是一个量度的科学用语，但近年来，这个单词已经大众化，在某种意义上，我们把它看作a guideline（准则）或criterion（标准）的意思。例：One of the government’s parameters of foreign policy. （政府在对外政策上的一条准则。）或At the Board of Directors meeting, Paul asked about the company’s marketing parameters, guidelines or criteria. （在董事会上，保罗询问公司市场开发的决定性因素，也就是准则或准。）。前缀para, p-a-r-a，是along side of（在……一旁）的意思，同样的前缀还可以在paralegal（辅助律师业务的）或paramilitary（辅助军事的）中见到。在parameter一词中，meter, m-e-t-e-r，来自希腊语的metron，m-e-t-r-o-n，是a measuring stick（测量尺度）的意思。因此，papameter也就是a measuring stick along side of what is being measured（被测量物体旁的测量尺度）的意思。但不要学大多数人那样把parameter与perimeter混为一体。Perimeter是边界的外缘。Perimeter和parameter是两个不同的单词。