Saturday, September 10, 2011

"R" is for "Range" (More words with multiple meanings)

Most test rubrics (= a set of instructions or a description of skills that assessors use for evaluating an individual's abilities in speaking or writing, e.g.) state that for students to obtain the highest score on an English exam, they must display a range of grammar and vocabulary. What does that mean exactly? What does range mean?

Range is another word with multiple meanings. It has so many, in fact, that I've devoted a separate post for it. Range is a verb and a noun that relates to a variety of topics. First, we can speak of mountain ranges, such as the Rockies or the Alps or other lines of mountains. Second, there is the range of a singer's voice from low to high notes or a range of ages of students in a classroom from 18 to 35 years old. This meaning of range is what assessors are looking for in a test-taker's grammar and vocabulary production. That is, assessors want to see that a person can understand and use simple to complex language during the test. (Similarly, range is used as a verb, so it can be said that "The class ranged in age from 18 to 35 years old.") Third, a range is another term for a stove. In the USA, in the kitchen, people either have a gas range or an electric range. Fourth, a range refers to the large open fields where 'buffalo roam' and 'the deer and the antelope play' (as in the famous American ballad entitled "Home on the Range") or where cowboys herd(ed) cattle. Finally, golfers, hunters, and cameras have rangefinders, devices that compute how far away something is.

Whenever you learn a word like range, which is only five letters long and a single syllable but has multiple meanings, pay attention because that is precisely the kind of word that Mr. and/or Mrs. Cambridge like to include on their exams. Also, pay attention to the contexts in which the word is used and prepositions that go with the word. In addition to all the previously mentioned meanings of range, you will hear people talking about being in range or within range or being out of range. These expressions are related to the idea that something or someone is near enough or too far away to be detected or to consider something. For example, if you have an annual income of $30,000, then a Mercedes-Benz is probably out of your price range. If you encounter something at close range or from close range, you are very near it.

So, the next time you hear someone say range or you see this word used in writing, think about these multiple meanings. What other small words do you know that have so many meanings?


Professor Butler-Pascoe said...

Evelyn, this would be a great word to have students look at in a concordancer.

Dr. B-P

Evelyn said...

Thanks, Dr. B-P. I'm working on another post having to do with concordancers. Something I learned about from last week's activities!