The More You Know…Your Life in Literacy!

| May 2, 2015 | 0 Comments

Oh, c’mon, columnist Nicholas Kristoff, don’t go using words like “heuristic,” thinking that we who consider ourselves highly literate know what it means. Abbreviated, here’s his sentence: “A leader of a prominent internet company…told me that the firm regards admission to Harvard as a useful heuristic of talent…”

It’s possible that grade-school kids get “heuristic” in spelling bees, but by the time the competition comes along, the winners will surely have studied the dictionary, which declares the word an adjective meaning, “encouraging the student to discover for himself or herself.”

Is this mystery word – and others – something to consider as the San Diego Council on Literacy’s SDCOL) May 13th, “Eat. Drink. Read.” event is nearly upon us? The fact is, nearly every day we are presented with new challenges to our literate selves. What? You don’t know what “mupload,” “deligious,” or “cray cray” mean? Sorry, but you are about to be sidelined in conversational America.

New products constantly test our understanding. For instance, do not, no, do not go expecting to find your usual bottled water in the market, nor try asking for it in your favorite restaurant. Water’s gotten complicated. Now, you must be literate enough to read all labels carefully, so that you enjoy their claims of health and happiness: artichoke water, cactus water, flower water, almond water, maple water, watermelon water, birch-tree water and rose water. And if you have bodily inflammation, you may have to further investigate the claims of “turmeric water,” which proposes that “curcumin,” its essential ingredient, helps.

The Literacy Council, understandably, must be on the lookout for how we comprehend, and how we communicate. The organization promotes language literacy, for all stages of illiteracy, plus all ESL learners.

“The more words you know, the better you comprehend what you read,” says SDCOL’s Jose Cruz. “The foundation for comprehension is something called ‘oracy’ which is, in simple terms, “language literacy.” As our key word person, Mr. Cruz really, he says, “…likes when we develop a new idea and find a name for it that is sufficiently descriptive. For instance, I’ve liked term ‘classic rock,’ expertly describing the rush of ground-breaking music from the sixties that became the soundtrack for a great cultural shift.”

(The SDCOL’s Cody Morris, searching for clarity and permanence, might be taking his work too seriously. He has memorialized his loves, life, his credos in his highly literate tattoos: “Live life like the Captain of a Sinking Ship.” “No matter what, I keep my dreams and never get fed up.” Tats on his various body parts also include his mom, dad, sisters and pet dog. The important people in Cody’s life – save his dog – must also be avid, and appreciative readers. )

Come to “Eat. Drink. Read.” armed with new comprehension: mupload means uploading text or photos to social media with a mobile electronic device. Cray cray refers to someone whose craziness has gone to a whole new level. Deligious means food or drink so delicious that in inspires a religious experience.

“Eat. Drink. Read.” will celebrate literacy, to be sure, and entice you with pairings of creative delicacies, inspired by a favorite book, from 21 restaurants and more than a dozen drink purveyors. You’ll find the experience absolutely …deligious.

Tickets and information for “EAT.DRINK.READ.” are available at

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