Vocabulary Quest is an action-adventure game that also happens to teach you advanced vocab words

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/09/30/vocabulary-quest-is-an-action-adventure-game-that-also-happens-to-teach-you-advanced-vocab-words.html

Roget was a Utilitarian and follower of Bentham. He created his thesaurus to open up good literature to the oi polloi. Unfortunately, his approach involved making a giant table of all the elements of what was considered ‘good’ in his day. This did give some social levelling (yay!) as it did open up the classical tags and allusions of the posh to the rest of us, and it made it harder to tell who had actually been to Eton from a small sample of writing. But it cannot be a good thing to crudely pack ones head with synonyms to disguise the lack of sophisticated interaction we may have had when we were very young, just so we may ape our betters.

I wish them well. Some good may come of it. But IHMO this is as egregious as balls.

NB: I got ‘oi polloi’ from my mother. I didn’t know it was Greek for a long time. ‘egregious as balls’ came from my daughter. So my family are okay for posh words without this.


The pedant community would want me to point out that “the hoi polloi” should be just “the polloi”, or “hoi polloi” on its own, as “οι” is already a definite article.

Anyway, I agree about silicone vocabulary implants. If you grew up in a coal mine, but are as widely read as a knickerbocker-wearing fancy person, then you’ll understand all the big words they do; and if you don’t regularly use all those words, it just shows you’re a better communicator than they are. On the flip side, if you strain to use a bunch of thesaurus words you didn’t learn organically, you’ll just sound like you’re representing yourself at a parole hearing, while also endorsing the idea that you should be judged on how you talk.


Damn. My face is red. Thank the pedant community from me, would you? I had never considered I might be doubling an article. On the upside, I can now use ‘hoi oligoi’ for the 1% with confidence.

representing yourself at a parole hearing. Niice. I might pinch that.


Well, technically we aren’t exactly a community.

But regarding your other argument, if I choose to incorporate the odd sesquipedalianism in my conversation, it’s no one’s business but my own.


A perfectly cromulent quest.


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