Wednesday, May 15, 2013

AVI's Wife and Vocabulary

One used to be able to take the Miller Analogies Test instead of the GRE to go to grad school, at least if you were in a verbal-only field.  My wife got her graduate degree in Library Science - I guess that's about as verbal as it gets.

I haven't bragged on my wife around here much, have I?  Bad husband.

At the time she took the test in 1974, my wife's scores were so far off the charts that the MAT sent along that we assumed she was the recordholder with her 98 out of 100.  I guess that's not true, as Prometheus Society accepts that as a score for qualification, implying that people occasionally make that grade.  That's a pity, as I have been saying she's the previous recordholder for almost four decades now.  Ah well.  She is merely at the 99.997 percentile of verbal abilities instead.

I discovered early that there are games you just can't play with her.  The Dictionary Game, for example, in which you take a word that no one knows and make up definitions to fool the other players, with the real definition thrown in to the guessing pile.  It's just tedious to keep going through lists to find a word she doesn't know, and even when she thinks she doesn't, has been known to "make up" a definition that is identical to the real one, revealing that she did indeed know it after all, somehow, somewhere.  Wherry is one I recall from that category.

We do have a copy of Mrs. Byrne's Dictionary.  That usually worked. Except the rest of our friends had already decided by that time that it just wasn't any fun. 

Interestingly, neither of us is much good at Scrabble.  We're not bad, but nothing exciting.  One of our sons is good at speed scrabble when he can find a taker, and perhaps Tracy would excel at that given the chance.  Another oddity:  she does not produce vocabulary automatically or for fun, as many word-people do.  It's mostly recognition vocab.


Dubbahdee said...

After watching a documentary on competitive Scrabble and hearing several interviews with competitive scrabble players, it seems to me that Scrabble isn't really a word game. It is more akin to a puzzle. You have a large but finite set of symbol strings. You must combine them (according to rules) with other symbol strings in a manner that will earn the most points. The meanings of the words are immaterial. You need only know if the word is included in the dictionary and be aware of how the letter values and the conditions on the board combine to give you an advantage. Memorization of words grouped by number of letters seems to be very important.

She should go on the NPR game "Says you."

Assistant Village Idiot said...

AVI's wife says
I used to love to listen to that game! It is no longer on NHPR 89.1. Do you know of a place I can hear it locally?

Dubbahdee said...

Archives are available online at

If you can tune in WGBH 89.7 8:00 pm Saturday or 2:00 pm Sunday.

Maine Public Radio plays it at 7 pm Friday.

Vermont PR plays it Sunday night at 7:00 pm