HEADMASTER'S WEEKLY INSIGHT
“Don't use words too big for the subject. Don't say 'infinitely' when you mean 'very'; otherwise you'll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.”
I think we would all agree that it is vitally important that we mean what we say and say what we mean. Precision of language is simply using the correct words to convey the exact meaning and not something close to the meaning. Ambiguity in language causes misunderstandings and confusion. For instance, “I saw someone on a hill with a telescope.” Who had the telescope? Or, “Lisa got the bath ready for her son wearing a clown costume.” Odd, but okay.
There are many ways that we build these skills at Founders Frisco. We encourage students to speak and write plainly, be specific, avoid slang, understand the vocabulary and define if necessary, and take Latin. All of these points should be obvious on how they assist with precision, however, I do want to clarify the whys of required Latin. Latin students learn to see a depth of meaning in the details of language that others easily miss. While reading in English is most assuredly a mental process, reading in Latin is this mental process on steroids, if you like. Because of profound effort required, it is a practice which strengthens a student’s mind, increases a student’s facility and dexterity with language expression, and results in a much deeper understanding of the relationships between words and ideas.
Our current society uses as few poorly chosen words as possible. Words are thrown around with no more thought than casting dust to the wind, and more time than not, these words are misunderstood, causing conflict and tension. In order to have positive change in our country we need to acknowledge and adopt Quintilian’s definition of a true rhetorician which is “a good man speaking well”. This takes discipline, both academically and in one’s character. It is difficult, but well worth the effort.