Monday, June 21, 2010

Quotabulary - "I See Things Better With My Feet"

I googled the word "quotabulary" and found there were several domain registrations for it and a missing link to a definition, but I did not find the definition itself. I'm sure if I continued to delve into it, and do research via the New York Post, Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times, I could come up with a satisfactory definition. I, however, would like to offer my own definition of the word.

Quotabulary, like vocabulary, is a phrase that enriches your communication. However, the phrase cannot be one of those well-known, oft-quoted phrases. You know the sort: "Four score and seven years ago . . .", "We have nothing to fear but fear itself.", "Ask not what your country can do for you . . .", "Houston, we have a problem." and so forth. No. Like the ACT vocabulary, quotabulary phrases are phrases you've never heard of and that originate from obscure sources. You most likely will never hear them used in a common, everyday setting, but it sure would be impressive to throw them out in happy hour conversation every now and again.

Today's quotabulary phrase comes from James Holman, the 19th century blind English explorer. Lieutenant Holman and his party were ascending Mt. Vesuvius in June, 1821. "There was nervous talk of halting the ascent" due to the volcano's eruption. "He had begun the climb quite willing to proceed alone. . . (and) had insisted on hiking the full distance. 'I see things better with my feet', he explained." (A Sense of the World: How a Blind Man Became History's Greatest Traveler by Jason Roberts, Harper Collins, New York, 2006. p. 2)

One can understand this quote to mean a host of things other than the obvious - a blind man using his sense of touch to make more sense of the world around him. I invite you to chew on this phrase for a while. How does today's quotabulary phrase enrich your communication? Stay tuned . . .

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