Don’t Scry for Me, aka What Reading A Lot of Fantasy Will Do, aka I Have Been Surpassed

It's not like I think I have the greatest vocabulary in the world, OK? I had to look up words when I was reading Mating. I get confused, still, about the term hermeneutics.

But my vocabulary isn't shabby. Or at least I thought it wasn't shabby. I mean, maybe I don't always pronounce them right, in the long proud history of people who prefer reading to either listening or talking, but I do know pretty many words. (Though I must admit, I'm feeling somewhat less confident as I write this, given the tale I have to tell and the utter pedestrian-ness [oh crap, that's not even a word] of the words I'm using to tell it. Oh well.)

My confidence (hubris?) was destroyed this past weekend. I was checking over the homework. In what can now only be viewed as an unforgivably condescending manner, I alerted Diana to a misspelling. "Here you say, 'She was scrying and then….' Did you mean descrying? Or crying?" You'll have to supply my facial expression, which basically expressed retrospectively unbearable superior complacency, my calm sureness.

"No, I meant scrying. You know, foretelling the future, usually with a crystal ball?"

Um.

It's not in the online Merriam Websters, because that's abridged, OK? You can find it in the OED.

And she didn't even crow about it! Instead she said "I guess that's what happens when you read WAY too much fantasy." No rubbing it in, no attitude. Just an embarrassed parent (I remember when I taught you uxorious!).

Don't get me wrong, I am glad to know the word. It's just that I am prepared for her to outpace me height-wise, you know? But know more words? Why didn't I see this coming?

Reading is sort of amazing, you know?

 

UPDATE: also, I meant to ask, do you guys all know this word? Did you all learn it and not tell me or something?

13 thoughts on “Don’t Scry for Me, aka What Reading A Lot of Fantasy Will Do, aka I Have Been Surpassed

  1. The other day my six-year-old daughter mentioned a “Venn diagram” during our conversation. I had no idea she knew that term, but when I asked her to define it she did, correctly. I was shocked! It won’t be long before she surpasses me – I should start preparing for the inevitable…

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  2. It’s just that I am prepared for her to outpace me height-wise, you know? But know more words? Why didn’t I see this coming?
    So very familiar. With one child it’s beating me at Scrabble, with the other, it’s whipping me at chess. Awesome and humbling, too.

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  3. I remember seeing the word in A.S.Byatt’s “Possession” the other day. But I confess I didnt really understand what it means. Now I’m both cheering and dreading the day when my daughter will correct me…Oh well, she’s only three, I still have a couple of weeks left.

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  4. I knew it, but only because I have read a bunch of fantasy in my lifetime.
    The best part will be when she outvocabularies one of her teachers.

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  5. I did know scrying. But descrying … hmm… I guess if I stretch my brain I do know what it means, but it would never have popped into my head on its own.
    I so clearly remember the feeling, as a kid, of learning a new word and then suddenly seeing it everywhere. I used to wonder, had it been there all along and I didn’t notice it? Or had I just suddenly reached the level of books where this word was everywhere?
    I love watching my kids learn new words from books. Even better is when they mispronounce them as they use them for the first time in conversation.

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  6. I too knew scrying but not descrying. But then I too have read way too much fantasy. I’m so “me too” today.
    My vocabulary outpaced my older brother’s when we were about 6 and 9, as a consequence of my copious reading. But my pronunciation was (and remains) innovative, which he never lets me forget.

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  7. Tamora Pierce and Christopher Paolini both use it frequently if I’m recalling correctly. So that’s two YA oriented fantasy authors right there.

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  8. I spent many years writing closed captions for television, and I can’t tell you how many words I learned! (Spend a few weeks typing out every single thing they say on the History Channel and you’ll know what I mean.) I’m still embarrassed that it took me that much work to figure out what someone meant when they referred to a “sea change.”
    It’s funny the things we never see coming. My 8-year-old is nearing my height already, so that’s a foregone conclusion. But he can never know more words than me!

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