Originally Posted by Zarkof
Damn, get me one of those thesauruses that you use.
Thesauruses are for scrubs!
Just read a lot. ^_^ Read from different periods and styles. Nietzsche, Verne, Jordan, Tolkein, Lovecraft, Twain, L'Amour, Wurtz, McEwen. Read romance novels too. (Seriously). Many of them hearken back to antique dialects and phraseology, and the good ones are pretty accurate about it. (Jude Devereaux's Black Lyon
is a good start, so is the Warrior's Woman series by Johanna Lindsey. I don't recommend Nora Roberts; too much smut not enough literature.)
Shakespeare, obviously, is another good source. Even Marquis de Sade evinced beautiful vernacular despite his chosen subject matter. (The 120 Days of Sodom
is very richly worded if you have the stomach for the actual content, which I must warn you is very, very
graphic. Like, this-book-is-banned-in-more-countries-than-not, graphic.)
And I cannot stress poetry enough; Whitman, Poe, Frost, Eliot, Byron, Stevenson, more Whitman, Pound, Barnes, Goethe, Blake, more Whitman, more Frost, follow it up with more Whitman. Go back even farther; Sophocles, Alighieri, Agathon, Hesiod. You want to see words in action? Want to understand the metaphysical connotations of language itself? Read poetry
. Read it until your eyes bleed. Then learn Braille and read some more!
Honestly I don't believe in thesauruses. They're nothing more than a linguistic crutch; most of them don't provide actual definitions alongside the synonyms and therefore don't clearly illustrate the nuances between one word and the other, leading you to believe only that the two words "mean the same thing," which is a bad habit. I am however a lover of dictionaries and encyclopedias; they teach you the true definitions and the history of words, which will stay with you so much longer than a quick synonym you pulled out of a thesaurus in an effort to sound classy on a term paper.
My rule of thumb; if you can read through a whole book without having to chase down a dictionary at least once, that book is waaaaaaay below your reading level and you should pursue more challenging literature. Reading should not just be something to do on an airplane or in the dentist's office; it should be an enriching experience from which you grow as an intellectual being.