Vocabulary, jargon, and keeping up

It’s the beginning of a new course. You go to class, listen carefully, take notes – and still half of what is said makes no sense.

Every field of study or interest has it’s own vocabulary. I’m a knitter, and so I understand ‘i-cord’ and ‘intarsia’ – those of you who don’t knit probably won’t. I’m not into sport, so a rugby commentary is littered with words that I don’t understand – ‘scrum’, ‘breakdown’ and so on.

Academic disciplines are the same. Business, nursing, engineering – they all have their own vocabularies, often confusing to the newcomer. This is made worse if English is not your first language! It can make a big difference to you enjoyment and success in a course to understand the language used.

If you are finding some (or many) words you’re not familiar with, the library has some resources to help you.

Look it up

One of the most comprehensive general dictionaries is the Oxford English Dictionary – now available online.

Many other general dictionaries are available for loan from the library, at shelf location PE1625.

Struggling with New Zealand English? Have a look at The New Zealand Dictionary.

Subject-specific dictionaries are available for Business, Nursing, Midwifery, Science, Computing (or online here), Engineering (civil and electrical), and Art and Design – and many others, including Māori and many foreign languages. If there’s something you’re interested in, there’s probably a dictionary.

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