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"A dedicated fluency building thesaurus in English... focussing solely on the vocabulary needs of those who are trying to achieve a high degree of fluency..."
- THE HINDU
India's national newspaper
since 1878.
 
"A brilliant book..."
- General Knowledge Today
 
"A wholly new kind of English language Thesaurus... Focuses on helping advanced users of English achieve a thorough mastery of fluency oriented vocabulary... Specially developed for those who are trying to reach higher levels of fluency, and so concentrates on listing carefully selected vocabulary items that promote fluency."
- The New Indian Express
 
"One of the unique features of this thesaurus is this: The author has marked how relatively frequent/important (for fluency training) a headword is... This is the first thesaurus to have ever included such a feature, and every user of this thesaurus would find this feature immensely helpful."
- General Knowledge Today
 
  Core Fluency Thesaurus>Introduction
   
 

Core Fluency Thesaurus
by Prof. Kev Nair

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Introduction

This is a new kind of thesaurus. Its purpose is to help you achieve a better command of fluency-oriented vocabulary. And it groups together, under headwords, word groups that express meanings similar to, or somewhat similar to, their important meanings.

The key point you should note here is this: This new thesaurus groups only word groups — not individual words. The reason is this: Fluent speech (as well as fluent dictation) happens mostly through word groups, and not through individual words. In general, an individual word is used as a speech unit only when it can do the work of a word group. So if you’re trying to achieve great fluency, the vocabulary items you should master are word groups — groups of words that individual words tend to form with other words, with a more-than-chance frequency: Phrases, collocations, phrasal verbs, idioms and other multi-word items that add to your fluency.

And these are the kinds of word groups you’ll find under the various headwords in this new kind of thesaurus. I’ve marked how relatively frequent/important (for fluency training) a headword is by using the indicators ‘AAA’, ‘AA’ and ‘A’. Headwords marked ‘AAA’ are more frequent/important than those marked ‘AA’ and ‘A’. And headwords marked ‘AA’ are more frequent/important than those marked ‘A’.

Note that the word groups you’ll find under a headword are not all phrases, collocations, etc. containing that headword, but mostly those formed by other words. And these are word groups that have nearly the same meaning as the various senses in which that headword can be used in speech and writing.

There’s another important feature you can notice about this book. All the headwords are verbs. Yes, verbs — and not nouns, adjectives or adverbs. You know, grammatically speaking, speech and writing happen in ‘clauses’ (or abbreviated clauses). And the verb element is the soul of a clause — its heart, that which makes it exist and go. And it’s the verb element that gives life to the other clause elements. And it’s when they work in combination with verbs that the roles of nouns and adverbs (and even of adjectives) come alive. And so I’d like you to be clear about this: If you try and achieve a good mastery of the core verbs, a major part of your fluency problem would be over.

And remember this: A verb (or for that matter, any other word) stands for an idea — in fact, for as many ideas as it has senses. And a good mastery of a verb includes a mastery of word groups (formed by other words) that can be used in speech or writing as paraphrases or near-paraphrases of its various senses.

But a conventional thesaurus doesn’t concentrate on verbs. In fact, it doesn’t concentrate on any other type of words, either — but gives equal importance to them all: Verbs, nouns, adjectives, adverbs. So if you try to make use of a conventional thesaurus to improve your fluency-oriented vocabulary by mastering verbs, your attention is certain to be diverted from verbs to other types of words, and you’ll find it difficult to focus on verbs.

And that’s not all. A conventional thesaurus does not confine itself to the core words (on which fluency word power depends) as its headwords, but tries to fill its pages with as many headwords as possible. And most of them are words outside the central core of the everyday vocabulary field, and are of no real value to a person who is trying to pick up a greater command of fluency-oriented vocabulary. And even under headwords that are core words, a conventional thesaurus tends to list as many vocabulary items as possible, irrespective of whether they’re useful for everyday communication, because its purpose is to try and be useful to all categories of readers (from a junior school student to a cross-word puzzle enthusiast), and not to cater to fluency enthusiasts alone.

The result is that most of the vocabulary items that a conventional thesaurus lists under its headwords are irrelevant for the fluency building work, and their percentage is so high that those that can be relevant for the fluency-building work get buried among them.

In fact, as the focus of a conventional thesaurus is not on fluency building, a large number of word groups that are fluency-oriented (and that anyone who is trying to achieve a high degree of fluency ought to have a good command of) wouldn’t even find a place in it.

And so people who try to make use of it, under the wrong impression that it would help them to improve their communicative word power, would find a conventional thesaurus confusing and unhelpful.

I’m telling you all this to drive an important point home to you: If you’re trying to achieve a good command of fluency-relevant vocabulary, a conventional thesaurus won’t be of much help — no matter how helpful it may be for other purposes. This is so whether it’s a Roget-style thesaurus or a dictionary-style thesaurus. You need dedicated fluency-oriented vocabulary building books — books that focus on fluency-building vocabulary.

And the fluency thesaurus you have in your hands now is one such dedicated fluency-oriented vocabulary building book1 — and the first thesaurus of its kind.

One effective way of achieving mastery of fluency-building vocabulary is this: Keep browsing through the word groups listed under the various headwords. Remember that all the word groups you’ll find under a particular headword are related to one another in some way through that headword (= entry word).

While browsing through the word groups, keep trying to relate each word group occurring under a headword to that headword. It’d be a good idea to have a standard Advanced Learner’s Dictionary2 to hand, so you can quickly look up the word groups you’re uncertain about.

As you know, most core words have more than one sense. The word groups you’ll find under a headword in this book are those that can express the important senses or related senses of that headword in different ways. But I have not categorized the word groups into sub-sets with each sub-set representing a particular sense or sub-sense, because that kind of sub-grouping would defeat the very purpose for which this book has been written: To prompt the readers’ thinking, and to get them to try and relate each word group to the headword under which it occurs through any of the senses in which the headword can be used. So I have arranged the word groups in alphabetical order, because this sort of arrangement can help a reader to search and find, or refer back to, a particular word group quickly and easily.

And when you’ve used this book in this way for a few weeks and have become thoroughly familiar with the word groups it gives, what begins to improve will not only be your productive fluency, but also your receptive fluency. And then, it also begins to become easier for you to understand native speakers of English when they speak English with a natural flow. Remember this: The ability to understand the kind of English that native speakers of English speak is as important as being fluent in speaking native-like English, if you are to become good at having conversations with them.


Footnote 1: For a list of other dedicated fluency-oriented vocabulary building books, please click here. (Click here to go back to the main body of the Introduction).

Footnote 2: By the way, here’s a point of general interest: No matter how deep your knowledge of English is, if you’re someone who has to make heavy use of fluent English every day, you need a standard dictionary meant for advanced learners. For example, if your first language isn’t English, and if you’re a serious, everyday user of normal, everyday English, even if you already have a copy of a large dictionary like the Concise Oxford Dictionary, you should go ahead and buy a dictionary meant for advanced learners (published by the Oxford University Press or by some other reputed publisher like Longman, COBUILD, Cambridge, or Macmillan). Mind you, nobody ever really stops being an advanced learner — or being in need of an ALD. (Click here to go back to the main body of the Introduction).

   
 
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