The tale of the two hands

Articles for Word Power Made Easy by Norman Lewis
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Learning Vocabulary can be tricky, especially when one thinks of using the various vocabulary books available in the market. Among the hordes of material that we find ourselves flooded with, it is important for you to pick up the right book. And this is where Wordpandit comes in. We are here to help you with the options available. This is the first in the series of articles that will focus on books that any vocab enthusiast should look up.

The first book we are going to cover is the ubiquitous vocabulary book, if there could be one: Word Power Made Easy by Norman Lewis. In a way, Word Power Made Easy is like a cult movie for vocabulary; you will find its reference, fans and haters almost everywhere.

But what is its secret of success? Why do we find it in every corner and street where a vocabulary book is being sold? The answer is simple.

The book is:

  1. Intuitive in its teaching methodology
  2. It offers ample oppurtunities to practice words
  3. And it uses roots as clues to teach words, thereby multiplying the number of words one learns from a particular root/clue.

I guess the above is enough for an introduction for the book. Need more convincing? Well, let’s then study a small snippet from session 3 of the book (the book is organised in a series of chapters, with each being divided into multiple sessions)

Session 3: The tale of two hands

We label this session ‘the tale of two hands’, rather fondly. Why so? Just read on:

This is quite an interesting bit of information offered here by Norman Lewis. Tracing the origin of words introvert, extrovert and ambivert he leads us to a discussion on hands and the words that have been derived from them.

WordCommon Root2nd RootMeaning
IntrovertBased on the common root ‘verto’, meaning ‘to turn’Intro- means  inwardsA person whose thoughts are turned inwards, towards his own self.
ExtrovertExtro- means outwardsA person whose thoughts are turned outwards, towards his surroundings.
AmbivertAmbi- means bothA person who has both the above personality traits.

Leading us further from the root ‘ambi-‘, Mr. Lewis takes us to the word ambidextrous. Ambidextrous means the ability to use both hands with equal skill. A couple of modern day geniuses who are ambidextrous include Sachin Tendulkar and Rafeal Nadal. Another word based on the same source is dexterous. Dexterous means skilful (keep in mind the spelling difference: dexterous carries an extra e). The source of both these words is the Latin word ‘Dexter’, meaning the right hand (it is used per say in English as well). Traditionally, the right hand is regarded as the more skilled one than the left one, and all positive qualities are associated with it. The left hand is unfortunate in this regard, with all its references being negative. For example the term left-handed means awkward. And the Latin word for the left-hand is sinister. And sinister signifies dark, menacing evil or something dangerous. Such is the treatment meted out to the left hand.

French is also not kind to the left hand. In French, the left hand is known as gauche, meaning graceless or lacking social polish. The unfair treatment continues with the right hand being labelled as droit in French. We get out English word Adroit from it, meaning quick or skilful in action or thought. In a way, it is the antonym of the gauche. In the same way, in language, the left hand is the antonym of the right hand.

The information given above covers basically a single page from word power made easy.
The number of words it teaches: 7
The time it takes to learn these 5 words: about 5 minutes.
And add to the fact that now we know why the cartoon character Dexter was called Dexter: the skilfulness just cannot be missed, can it?

This is what Word Power Made Easy by Norman Lewis. And this makes it, without doubt, the first book we recommend that you should read. In the following articles, we shall be covering various other books and will also take a closer look at Word Power Made Easy.

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