My Vocabulary Over 40 Weeks: A Reflection

Hello, everyone! As indicated by the title of this post, I now possess the opportunity to discuss and reflect on the past 40 weeks of my diction. Trying to process the fact that I have been consistently updating my post about trends in my vocabulary for more than the equivalent of two semesters is quite mind-boggling, so I am glad to finally take the time to extensively meditate on the communicative work I have undertaken ever since I wrote my post reflecting on the first 20 weeks of this adventure. (By the way, if anyone could snag me some course credit for this independent effort, I would be eternally grateful for such an effort. I am only somewhat kidding.) Yes, I know, creating posts semi-annually, rather than every 20 weeks, could have been more orthodox, but I simply enjoy self-reflection too much to wait half of a year between sessions. Anyway, 20 weeks of selecting three to six words out of all those in existence offers enough material upon which to contemplate, right?

In case anyone is unaware of my “Ongoing Trends in My Vocabulary” project as a whole, I will state that on every Friday, I take some time to think about what words I had overused since that Friday prior, and subsequently add a brief list (anywhere from three to six words in length) to my corresponding base post. Then, every two weeks, I also add analyses to the two previous lists, which indicate why those words represented that particular week to me, and how each individual one, in retrospect, reflects my knowledge, mindset, and experiences at the time of their selection. In fact, such goals are the basis of my analysis of this entire project of mine, as shown by my previous reflection, so let us see if my 40 weeks of tracking my vocabulary (both in terms of these latest 20 weeks and as a whole) has shown to be beneficial!

First, self-awareness is something I must portray. My process for this project of mine has been remarkably unscientific; instead of finding which words I use the highest number of times by looking through every single piece of communication produced in the week, I rely on self-perception to select words that seem to have been excessively utilized. Habituation to my once-remarkable use of certain words (including quite and such) is one example of a potential flaw in my execution that I mentioned in my previous reflection, as the consequent omission of these words from future lists, despite my frequent use of them, may be a destructive result. If anyone is eager to read some legitimate, statistical analyses of the work of writers, I would recommend reading Nabokov’s Favorite Word Is Mauve by Ben Blatt, which is a book I just started reading. Simply flipping through the book while in bookstores over the past few months before I actually possessed it has already granted me inspiration and motivation for the proper operation of my own self-analysis, so I know reading Blatt’s book should be extremely insightful for all readers. As a matter of fact, the book is likely the reason why I took the time to create a spreadsheet documenting my results. Aside from my amateurish look into my own writing habits, my new habit of italicizing the words within my analyses, which began on April 14, 2017, may be incorrect; interestingly, my decision to do so took place just weeks after I questioned my utilization of quotation marks within the 20-week reflection.

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The first 20 weeks
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The second 20 weeks

Aside from my minute changes in procedures and continued practice of self-deprecation, I have largely stuck to the original schedule of weekly work on my original post that I described within my last reflection post. For the duration of each week, I still am able to catch myself employing certain words a considerable number of times in my writing and speech without too much effort. The same note on my phone upon which I unloaded these observations for the first twenty weeks is still the one I use to this day (though it is reaching considerable lengths), and unless my cellular device happens to be out of my possession and I forget to add it later on, the words I pick out typically end up on my preliminary list in due time. On each Friday, then, I comb through that week’s list. If an eerily small amount of words are present, I will subsequently take the time to look through the blog post(s), other completed assignments, and my general psyche of the past week for words that I may have overlooked; such words are often the most telling, as they expose an overlooked component of my contemporaneous diction. Admittedly, there is some pressure to include as many words as possible in my final list, but I try to be genuine in a way that will represent the depth of my communication that had occurred that week. While on the topic of honesty, I must say that for each of the twenty past weeks, I found the time to compile my final lists by the end of each Friday night, thus making me achieve my goal. As of late, my posts have been updated earlier than usual (likely due to the time I have to dedicate to my blog in the summertime), but if one looks through the tweets announcing my updates, it is clear that they mostly were sent out by yours truly from 5 to 7 PM. Well, this trend is essentially a direct result of the alarm on my phone that I have set for 5 PM, a time typically clear from schoolwork and mealtimes, on every Friday.

Every couple of weeks, typically following the compilation of my list for the week, I write analyses of the lists regarding the previous two weeks. To be quite frank, there are some times at which I dread the thought of digging through my mind and trying to figure out why I included the words in such lists, but taking the time to do so is always worth the effort. One method that has helped me conquer this general task is leaving short notes at the end of each word in my preliminary lists, as I have carried out for about 18 weeks straight at this point; whether they are “post,” “to justify decisions,” or “TIRED OF EVERYTHING,” all of these small notes have become vital to the accomplishment of my goal of keeping my sanity intact, as they truly help remind myself of what had occurred just a measly week or two prior. The few times I did not add a note and questionably brushed off my decision to omit useful information, I invariably regretted doing so, since I then often had to look through what I had produced during that particular week and attempt to accurately draw inferences from them. In conjunction with the conclusions I could make in hindsight and as a whole, though, I believe I have been able to produce relatively accurate analyses of each week. In order to make the writing process for them more enjoyable on my Friday afternoons, I must admit that I have been attempting to purposefully foster fun while doing so, through reminders to myself that they can serve as nostalgic summaries of each week, sarcasm, and (hopefully) a bit of self-awareness. Self-deprecation while working on a somewhat conceited, independent project has never hurt anyone, right?

Aside from this overview of my progress on my original post, delving deeper into the actual trends that can be found in my diction is a way in which the accumulated content I produced over time can be effectively employed. One way to do so is by deciphering which words earned admittance in multiple lists, which is a tactic I introduced in my first reflection post. Consequently, featured below is information regarding words I included in multiple lists of mine, along with the number of weeks over which these words were constituents of those lists; the order of them is only a result of how I combed through the lists.

Words listed twice:

  • Indicate (8 weeks)
  • Hope (over 16 weeks)
  • Purposes (6 weeks)
  • Entity (14 weeks)
  • Clear (36 weeks)
  • Time (2 weeks)
  • With (4 weeks)
  • Which (13 weeks)
  • Acknowledge (8 weeks)
  • Charming (10 weeks)
  • Really (10 weeks)
  • Such (9 weeks)
  • Association (2 weeks)
  • Concept (6 weeks)
  • Regarding (8 weeks)
  • Implementation (6 weeks)
  • Excessively (9 weeks)
  • Great (13 weeks)
  • Aspects (2 weeks)
  • Specific (2 weeks)
  • Excited (3 weeks)
  • Prevalent (2 weeks)

Average number of weeks: 8.7

Words listed three times:

  • Offer (8 weeks)
  • Experience (34 weeks)
  • Since (3 weeks)
  • Aforementioned (31 weeks)
  • Nervous (18 weeks)
  • Especially (9 weeks)
  • Important (12 weeks)
  • Credible (16 weeks)
  • Wonderful (5 weeks)
  • Quite (11 weeks)

Average number of weeks: 14.7

Words listed four times:

  • Particularly (32 weeks)
  • Effective (25 weeks)
  • Utilize (9 weeks)

Average number of weeks: 22

When compared to such lists from my 20-week reflection, it is evident that I did not hesitate much to repeat words within my lists over time. My first reflection states that for the first 20 weeks, 11 words were listed twice, while three had been highlighted three times; in comparison, throughout the past 20 weeks, 22 words were included in two lists, recognition was presented to ten words three times, and for the first time, three words were listed four times. As one may expect, the words I had once overused often remained that way for the following time frame. Four of the original 11 words in two lists stayed in place, while five and two of them went into the three and four-list categories, respectively. For those words in the original three-list category, all three of them remained in the same category. As shown, the words listed three times that I had previously caught myself over-utilizing to a great extent either were halted in their use, or became so well-integrated into my diction that my employment of them became difficult to notice; some of the same situations took place for the original two-list words, though some others became even more evident in my writing (such as especially, effective, and particularly). The same worries of habituation rise to the surface when I acknowledge the omission of words such as prevalent and specific from the group of advancing words, since I feel as though they are now staples of my vocabulary. However, one cannot be shocked at the fact that nervous rose in its utilization, while excited remained where it was.

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Side-by-side comparison

Interpreting the number of weeks of my noticeable use of these words also allows for some interesting insights to be identified. As for the words listed twice, the number of weeks over which they were included my lists varied quite a bit, but did not become particularly excessive; they ranged from two to 36 weeks, averaging 8.7 weeks. The words listed three times offer a wide range as well, from three to 34 weeks, and thus an average of 14.7 weeks. Lastly, for the four-list category, the average reached a stunning 22 weeks, as the three words were used over 9, 25, and 32 weeks individually. These numbers can be a bit arbitrary, of course, as nervous was used two weeks a row, then found itself in a list 16 weeks later, for instance. Nevertheless, these averages demonstrate how there are often short bursts of foci, largely on school and blog-related assignments, that necessitate the quick entrance and exit of words associated with such work (mostly seen within the two and three-week categories). For instance, I had not even noticed prior to this self-reflection that I used the word “since” three weeks in a row, all of which were weeks in which I worked on a project for a summer class that involved much justification from yours truly; these instances illustrate the importance of retrospective reflection. In terms of the words admitted into four lists (and some of those in three lists), though, it is evident that I either attempted to avoid overusing those words, or their employment went overlooked for a while, until they became noticeable yet again after some thought. Honestly, as a whole, I am neither shocked at, nor disappointed in the increase in the words that became listed multiple times; I can admit both the notion that my vocabulary has not widened as much as hoped, and the fact that I often find “favorite” words that become hard to refrain from overusing.

Along with the notion that my vocabulary is still quite limited, I find interest in taking a look at the new words introduced into my commonly-used bank over time. Is this project of mine worthless at this point, due to the presumption that the same words will just end up reappearing over and over again? Well, let us take a look at the results so far.

Weekly lists completely comprised of newly-introduced words to my project:

  • First 20 weeks: 7 lists
  • Second 20 weeks: 2 lists

For the first 20 weeks, seven of those corresponding lists were comprised of completely new words to the overall post; these lists are not only those from the first batch of weeks, but also happen to be the weeks during which college winter break occurred, the first week of the spring semester took place, and a project for one of my courses began. As one may expect, the following 20 weeks only brought about two weeks with lists completely containing new words. These weeks represent the time frames of spring break and the second-to-last week of my spring semester of college. Easily, by looking at the above numbers, one can say that I need to diversify my vocabulary, to which I would agree, but the characteristics of these specific weeks reveal more interesting insight into why and when my diction tends to diversify subconsciously. Almost every one of the weeks described involve some kind of new routine for me, a new & unique project to work on, or circumstances that allowed for a greater amount of time to relax & reflect on my work. Otherwise, when I am conducting my more typical communication styles, with not many projects or experiences provoking new thought processes within me, I employ certain relevant words repeatedly. Despite such reuse and the decreasing levels of lists comprised of completely new words, I believe that being able to reflect on all of these trends in my vocabulary will always be helpful in the improvement of my diction, and therefore, worth the effort I put into creating such lists on a weekly basis.

As hinted at before, school has always been a large part of my identity, and thus a major impact on my vocabulary. For the first 20 weeks of my tracking, the drop-off in my use of less complex words with positive connotations once my spring semester started was noticeable. Likewise, this trend incarnated itself for the following 20 weeks, which involved two semesters of college. The 21st week of this project encapsulated my spring break, and within its corresponding list, a sense of immediacy and indulgence is palpable. Once my classes resumed during the following week, as expected, the words themselves became more associated with my schoolwork, though there is not much explicit negativity in those words. Interestingly, once the spring semester ended, my list of words only grew, which was due to the added time on my hands surfacing endless questions internally about what my future should look like. The week in which my summer semester started had a very brief and generally positive list, for my class started halfway through the week. (Note that charming ended up in my lists for both spring break and the week in which my short stint of summer break took place.) A trend of full lists of words, and hence an indication of constant writing and rationale, is prominent immediately following the first full week of my summer course, which demonstrates my renewed academic focus at the time. A blog project that I pursued right after the conclusion of my summer semester also influenced the words I chose in terms of the rest of my summer break, as shown by the full lists of relatively formal words that recurred throughout my full weeks sans academic courses. As an entity, my semesters of college and their corresponding courses have had a genuine impact on my vocabulary, for which I am appreciative; the motivation academic assignments place upon me to properly combine my independent thought and the course material in a respectable way is something I find worth treasuring.

Another potentially fascinating way to decipher any overall differences in my vocabulary over the past 40 weeks is to not only track the abundance of lists offering certain lengths in terms of the entire time period, but also to make these observations for the two 20-week periods. The following information will demonstrate such differences:

First 20 weeks (including 14 school weeks):

  • 3-word lists: 2
  • 4-word lists: 4
  • 5-word lists: 10
  • 6-word lists: 4

Second 20 weeks (including 12 school weeks):

  • 3-word lists: 1
  • 4-word lists: 3
  • 5-word lists: 4
  • 6-word lists: 12

The complete 40 weeks (including 26 school weeks):

  • 3-word lists: 3
  • 4-word lists: 7
  • 5-word lists: 14
  • 6-word lists: 16

As shown, when compared to the first 20 weeks of my experiment, the second half of the 40 weeks brought about a much greater influx of six-word lists. These results are likely due to my growing comfort with making these extensive records, but my schoolwork (in the slightly lesser amount of in-session time), blog-related projects, and general level of communication could have all contributed to the increase as well. All the while, the amount of three, four, and five-word lists decreased; the most noticeable transfer is of the common five-word lists to ones comprised of six words. The 40-week tallies, though, exemplify the overall trends adequately, showing that my inclination to be thorough when appropriate has also translated into the tracking of my own vocabulary; as the numerical value in each category of list inflates, so does the number of weeks representing the respective classification, all the way up to the 40% of lists that are comprised of six words.

Admittedly, narrowing my lists down to six words noticeably became more difficult at some points throughout the past 20 weeks, especially during periods in which I worked on major projects that entailed much writing. For instance, when I worked on the project for my summer class in June that ended up being comprised of over 26,000 words of content, and executed my 36,000-word series on this blog of mine soon afterward, I could not help but constantly consider the endless stream of words that ran through my mind. Once I began spending some time reflecting on my writing, stopping myself became near-impossible, as my lists would reach up to 15 words in length. Nevertheless, these types of situations led me to making my six-word lists much more common than they were when I first introduced that new limit; perhaps just starting these longer lists made them less staggering and exceptional in my mind.

Consequently, many of these “extra” words that I excluded from my final lists found their way into my analyses of those weeks. These additions, created as notes to myself that would acknowledge these other words of note in my vocabulary, have been written five times, starting on June 9, 2017. Admittedly, adding these extra explanations is a trend that I feel a bit guilty about; thus, I will work on not “cheating myself” by avoiding making all of the tough, thoughtful decisions that this independent project requires.

When calculating the average number of words in each list for weeks during which school was in session specifically, the effects of the courses on the quantity of the words I tend to use excessively becomes even more comprehensible. Throughout the 26 weeks of the 40 thus far that involved some form of class (including the “start” and “end” weeks of semesters), 130 words, though not all distinct, were selected; thus, the average amount of words listed per school week out became five out of a possible six. Of course, it must be noted that I had purposely avoided reaching six words until January, and even hesitated to do so in March, as indicated in my analyses. Nonetheless, this average displays that college often leads me to communicating in ways that lead to clear, noticeable trends in my diction.

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Both breaks and major blog projects (two other major factors that greatly impact my vocabulary) can be discussed as a whole, since all of the weeks during which I worked on a blog project were during out-of-session weeks. In terms of breaks as a whole, 14 weeks occurred that did not contain any meetings of college courses. Throughout those periods of time, 73 words were selected for my weekly lists, and the consequent surprise is the average of 5.21 words listed each week, higher than that of school weeks. Some justification for this result can be found by analyzing the subsets of these weeks sans school, though. Six of the break weeks were truly spent away from both classes and major completed projects of academic and extracurricular sorts, and the 26 words listed in terms of those weeks lead the average for this subset to respectably be 4.33 words. As mentioned before, I considered some weeks “blog project weeks”; the qualification for this designation is for most of my time throughout the week to have been spent and dedicated to series and projects on my blog. My devotion to these independent endeavors were solely comprised of writing throughout the past 40 weekds, thus skewing my average for break weeks, which is proven by the 5.88 average of words selected per week that resulted from 47 listed words over those 8 weeks (over half of all the break weeks). “Echoes of the Exposition,” a recent five-week task that caused all of its corresponding five weeks of lists to highlight six words, is one of these impactful and weighty assignments. Consequently, one can infer that my writing habits from the extent to which I communicate are greatly impacted by not only traditional academics, but also my independent endeavors.

In fact, my stance since my last reflection post has changed from the notion that the presence of school is by far the most influential on my vocabulary, both in quantity and quality, to the belief that blogging is an ever-increasing force on me as a communicator. Feasibly, my increasing inclination to take blogging of seriously, as exhibited over the past 20 weeks by lengthy, rather sober series like “Echoes of the Exposition,” can be a component of my lengthening and often shrewd lists. Nevertheless, as evident by the consistent references to my courses in the analyses of the past 20 (and even 40) weeks, which include brief mentions of my blog posts during academically-focused weeks, my college experiences continue to have an (arguably positive) impact on my diction; in fact, my schoolwork probably dictates which words end up crossing over to by blog posts as well.

One specific, palpable way in which my college experiences have impacted my vocabulary, even just within the past 20 weeks, is in the general sense of esteem they indicate. In regard to my first 20 weeks, I stated in my reflection that my lists were often comprised of words indicating uncertainty with myself, such as likely and may. Now, I will admit that I still utilize such words, as I have in this post itself, but none of those words were listed in words from week 20 through the 40th. (Accordingly, the post I planned on writing nine months ago about the lack of confidence portrayed by most of my writing has not yet been published.)

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Proof of the aforementioned blog post draft. Will it be published at some point in the future? We shall see.

In the interim, the emphasis necessitated by opinion-based college work and my growing comfort throughout the first 20 weeks has become further apparent. The two semesters that encapsulated the time period at hand largely were based on independent research, analysis, communication, and justification; thus, it is no surprise that words like clearsince, important and effective have surged in use, along with the general rise in my lengthly lists created for the experiment at hand.

After considering many of the components of my vocabulary, including the trends in the quantity of words in my lists, the recurring words within them, and the overall quality of such entities, one can conclude that the various circumstances causing their overuse are all valid. Furthermore, I would argue that the variety of assignments, both academic and extracurricular (and a lack thereof), that I take on have just as much, if not more, of an effect on my diction than my innate, internal thoughts and feelings. The objectives of my work in particular often alter my thoughts, overall mindset, and subsequent knowledge, and thus the trends in my vocabulary.

Throughout the past 20 weeks in particular, some small adjustments have been made that I find worthy of note within this post. First of all, I made a decision regarding the different forms of words that find their way within my lists. In the past, I believe I often counted words in their different forms as separate words, such as regards and regarding; these two words can be much different in meaning, though I believe I had used them for the same effect. Looking back, I find my separation of these words to be flawed, and accordingly, for the past 20 weeks, I have actively worked to always make words utilized in different forms count as one overlying word. For instance, offered and offers are regarded as a single word despite the tense differences, as are clear and clearly, the latter of which being an adverb. Accordingly, I stated “Note that I decided to mark offers as my second inclusion of that word in these lists, even though the week before, it was in the form of offered; it would have been odd to consider them different words as a whole” in regard to the week of June 23, 2017. Hope and hopefully envelop an odd case, as the use of the latter has been debated, and I happened to consider them separate words for the project at hand. Evidently, my strategy for these kinds of words is still flawed, but I will continue to work toward the formation of consistent and accurate decisions. Furthermore, the question of how I should label a word that I had used in different forms in lists remains, for in the lists above, I stated such words as the most-recently used one, but perhaps I should just use the base word in my weekly lists and reflections. Since I do want to be true to how I employed words throughout each week, though, I am considering just keeping my tactics the way they are. (If anyone has a strong opinion or perspective on the best way to handle these situations, please let me know.)

Another executive decision I have made is to exclude words from my weekly lists that I had almost exclusively used out of necessity, rather than as a stylistic choice. This assertion of mine was officially made in my analysis of July 14, 2017 (week 36), for published and wheel were words on my mind at the time, due to my research on the invention of the Ferris wheel. Almost immediately, this standard became one that I actively referenced, as it was the rationale for why I eliminated transportation from the following week’s list. Prior to the declaration, I am almost certain that I had avoided including these words intuitively; for instance, even though I read and wrote much about psychological disorders throughout the week of November 25, 2016, I did not include the names of the disorders that had been on my mind, but rather, I noted my utilization of the word prevalent as a way to describe them. My list from March 24, 2017 illustrates this ongoing philosophy of mine as well, as I had given a speech about hotels & sustainability, but made sure to choose the certain words that were said due to my independent methods of how to portray the overall topic, such as aspects. In regard to the week of July 14, 2017, for which my analysis described my explicit exclusion of the word wheel, I did include attraction in my list; this decision may seem antithetical to my philosophy, but the word had a separate relation in my mind at the time that made its admittance valid for me. As a whole, the point of the project at hand is to determine which words represent each week of my life while I experience them, and then be able to reflect on the use of such words and seek connections and insights from them; therefore, avoiding the inclusion of words that simply represent the inflexible subjects of my communication at varying times is vital in determining my actual, independent diction.

As for my hope to expand my vocabulary, just as with the previous 20 weeks of this experiment, I have worked to both vary the words I select on a daily basis and enlarge my lexicon overall. The month of July 2017 is a great example of my self-awareness regarding this journey, even if my attempts went awry at times. For my July 14, 2017 list, I stated in my analysis, “I believe I employed the word further often because of my desire to avoid another one of my favorite words, furthermore (I just cannot escape it, I suppose),” and similarly, in my probe for the week of July 21, 2017, I admitted that “despite my attempts to resist the word,” I could not refuse the power of the word clear. Just a week later, once again, I “knew that I had to work on replacing it [utilization] with others of the same sort,” which only got me as far as gravitating toward a close synonym: use. Yes, these examples show that resisting overuse of certain words is quite a tall order for yours truly, but I must assert that I still frequented online thesauruses throughout the past 20 weeks. In fact, from looking at my Google Chrome search history recently, I found out that I have visited 165 times since May 25, 2017; this computation represents only a fraction of the whopping 603 times I included synonym in my Google searches throughout that time period, however.

Aug-10-2017 12-56-59.gif, feel free to sponsor me

Furthermore, I still receive daily emails from the wonderful Merriam-Webster “Word of the Day” service. Yet again, I must disclose the fact that despite my love for learning about a different word every morning, I struggle to actually incorporate the words that are new to me into my vocabulary. Through setting goals to actually employ each word throughout the day on which it is featured, I believe the issue could be avoided, but for the time being, I typically (and simply) try to internalize the definition of each word before it leaves my memory. Interestingly, garner was the spotlighted word on June 18, 2017, which is a word I have been employing much recently, and similarly, argy-bargy definitely became one of novelty for me for a short period of time after its June 25, 2017 feature; nevertheless, they never became included in my weekly lists. My ability to internalize and apply words that catch my eye even became palpable for those I found on my own, as this situation was the case for infinitesimal. The exclusion of all of these words from my weekly lists, though, shows that my appreciation of cheeky words does not lessen the amount of work I should put into the ridding of my diction-related habits. Perhaps from such self-awareness, in addition to the upcoming introduction of new college courses for yours truly, the next 20 weeks of tracking will show an increase from the measly two weeks comprised completely of words that were new to the project’s vocabulary bank.

After taking all of the information and analyses described throughout this reflection into consideration, I can safely say that I will continue my “Ongoing Trends in My Vocabulary” project, while also hoping that others will take on similar challenges. The considerations I have taken in terms of the abundance of content there is to analyze from my original, weekly-updated post likely only scratches the surface, and as a result, I encourage others to grant me some ideas (or even make their own conclusions) regarding my diction. Moreover, my execution of this experiment of mine has been flawed, admittedly, due to the many biases this self-produced endeavor from a rather inexperienced adolescent brings. Even so, I know that the mulling over I have been able to conduct will only improve my self-awareness of how my vocabulary tends to develop in accordance with my knowledge, mindset, and experiences over time; thus, I believe that my effectiveness as a communicator, student, and member of society in general can only improve henceforth. By simply dedicating up to 30 minutes of time each Friday to a bit of self-reflection, and at the end of every 20 weeks, creating a more grandiose cogitation, I have already learned a great deal about myself, particularly as a communicator, and I am enthusiastic to continue such an illuminating project.

Here is to another 20 weeks of tracking the trends in my vocabulary!

Do you have any feedback for me regarding this reflection and/or my entire (somewhat conceited) project as a whole? Would you ever consider tracking the trends in your own vocabulary? Why or why not? I would love to know!

P.S. I feel compelled to note that the word over in the title of this post is capitalized due to AP Style guidelines.



4 thoughts on “My Vocabulary Over 40 Weeks: A Reflection

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