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Vaughan's Vocabulary

July 28, 2012

By DON VAUGHAN

In A History of Western Music by Donald Jay Grout, I was reading about the War of the Buffoons, which transpired during the mid-eighteenth century. This intellectual feud, between progressive partisans of Italian opera and defenders of conservative French opera, was sparked when an Italian troupe performed in Paris. Grout pointed out that Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-78) argued that the French language was not suitable for singing. In spite of its foolish extremes, Rousseau’s cadre represented the opinion of most Parisian intellectuals; as a result, the traditional French opera of Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683-1764) and Jean-Baptiste Lully (1632-87) lost standing.  

Rousseau’s comments reminded me that some individuals think that advanced words are unsuitable for conversations and writing. This is also a foolish extreme. Vocabulary building words are needed in conversations and writing. I encourage you to request Vaughan’s 500, a Word file containing 500 words suitable for speaking, writing and thinking.      

1. buffoon (buh-FOON)
A. a ludicrous figure
B. a stoic individual
C. critic
D. someone itinerant

Was this intellectual feud called the War of the Buffoons because comic actors on the operatic stage were part of both sides, or was it because the Italian troupe was known as “buffoni”? I welcome your comments. Oh, A, of course, is the answer to No. 1.  

2. “Guerre” (gare) is French for
A. opera.
B. war.
C. word.
D. group.   

3. tome (TOHM)
A. a volume forming part of a larger work
B. a large or scholarly book
C. a collection of elegiac (el-uh-JIE-uhk) words   
D. None of the above

4. renown (ri-NOUN)
A. widespread reputation, especially of a good kind
B. criticism
C. aggravation
D. an education

No. 2 is B. Music Academy Online points out that the Treatise on Harmony is a tome that brought Rameau renown as a leading music theorist. Both A and B are correct for tome. By the way, elegiac is also pronounced “ih-LEE-gee-ak”, my preference. No. 4 is A.

Last week’s mystery word is sedentary.

This week’s mystery word to solve is one that can be used to describe Amleth’s uncle. It begins with the same letter as the noun. Its first two letters are the abbreviations of a country, but not the country in which the story takes place.

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