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Vaughan’s vocabulary

February 23, 2013


In the Interpersonal Communication class we have recently considered that just as we can use our words to solace others, we can also use words to solace ourselves. Kory Floyd, the author of our textbook, has cited psychologist James Pennebaker’s studies which show that when people write about a trauma they’ve gone through, they often experience abated levels of stress hormones, strengthened immune systems and fewer visits to a physician.

Pennebaker’s theory is that holding in negative emotions requires effort that we might otherwise use to support our health. For that reason, expressing those emotions (even on paper) allows us to put that energy to better use. I encourage my students to engage in expressive writing about their traumatic event on at least four separate occasions for a minimum of 20 minutes each. The writing activities are more efficacious when they are spread over time, recurrent days rather than consecutive days. Lastly, and this isn’t bilge, writing about the event on the day of the week that it happened (however long ago it was) for four recurrent days is more effective than writing about it for four or more consecutive days.

1. solace (SOL-is)
A. to comfort
B. to console
C. to cheer
D. All of the above
E. All except C

Http:// says that solace as a noun is comfort in sorrow, misfortune, or trouble. Solace is something that gives comfort, consolation or relief. Solace as a verb (used with an object) means to comfort, console or cheer; to alleviate or relieve sorrow or distress. Example: I solaced myself with the Psalms. No. 1 is D.

2. traumatic (truh-MAHY-tic)
A. causing trauma
B. relating to an event or situation that causes distress and disruption
C. execrable (EK-si-kruh-bul)
D. All of the above

3. efficacious
A. sad
B. meaningful
C. having the power to bring about a desired effect
D. All of the above

4. bilge
A. harmful
B. solace
C. stale or worthless remarks or ideas
D. None of the above

No. 1 is D. Aside from C, Merriam-Webster’s definition is “1. the bulging part of a cask or barrel. 2. the part of the underwater body of a ship between the flat of the bottom and the vertical topsides. The lowest part of the ship’s inner hull.”

Last week’s mystery word is peacemaker.

This week’s mystery word to solve is a beautiful sounding word. You can give its second syllable either a kuh or chuh sound. Madeira is an example.

Don R. Vaughan, Ph.D. in Mass Communication, is a professor at East Miss. Community College. Contact him at:

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