On learning new interesting words...

The way we speak reveals a great deal about the way we think. Early in my magic career, one of the books that influenced me was Stephen Pinker's The Stuff of Thoughtabout how language provides insight into what's actually going on inside our heads.

Most interesting; it contains a chapter on profanity. (You haven't truly read until you've read a Harvard professor discussing profanity.) In particular, he emphasizes how we have different ways of speaking on the spur of the moment — such as the moment after you drop a hammer on your foot — than we do when we have time to reflect — like when composing an essay for school. 

And one of the great secret skills of a magician is taking things which are thoroughly planned and rehearsed and making them seem as though they are happening right here and now. That understanding has helped me create some truly wonderful magic over the years.

In this extended interview Benjemin Bergen sits down with the editor and publisher of Skeptic Magazine, Michael Shermer, to discuss profanity in great detail. Not so useful for making magic, but a fascinating discussion:  

The book under discussion is available here. I haven't read it, but it looks fucking delightful. 

Incidentally, the notion that your word choice impacts the way people perceive what you say has also spawned a pseudo-scientific discipline (read nonsense) called neurolinguistic programming — or NLP for short. I'm not one to underestimate the value of choosing my words carefully, but any such advice that falls under the umbrella of NLP can usually be discounted.