Learn 284 words in a month #11 – Philosophy on wheels

Each country has its philosophers, writers or ordinary people with plenty of good old common sense.

Do you have some favourite quotation by someone famous, a friend, or a member of your family?

I like to take a quotation in the language I´m learning, and try to memorise it. In 2010 I used to cycle 20 km each day and take with me a transparent zip-up case attached to the handle bars containing the quotation printed in a large font. Here in Germany there are some wonderful cycle paths which makes it safe to do that sort of thing when you are cycling between villages. I wouldn´t try it if I was cycling through Bombay or London.

Now for some quotations to suit today´s words :
BREAKTHROUGH

“Perhaps I can best describe my experience of doing mathematics in terms of a journey through a dark unexplored mansion. You enter the first room of the mansion and it’s completely dark. You stumble around bumping into the furniture, but gradually you learn where each piece of furniture is. Finally, after six months or so, you find the light switch, you turn it on, and suddenly it’s all illuminated. You can see exactly where you were. Then you move into the next room and spend another six months in the dark. So each of these breakthroughs, while sometimes they’re momentary, sometimes over a period of a day or two, they are the culmination of—and couldn’t exist without—the many months of stumbling around in the dark that proceed them. “

Andrew Wiles Quoted in interview for PBS TV program Nova. Web site – todayinsci.com
Note – I think it is the same with language learning: moments of triumph and joy, with periods in between where it feels as if you are not making enough progress.

CANDIDATE

 “A candidate once called his opponent  ´a willful, obstinate, unsavory, obnoxious, pusillanimous, pestilential, pernicious, and perversable liar´without pausing for breath, and even his enemies removed their hats. “

p. 17, in “White Folkways,” quoted on poemhunter.com
Note – in England we would write wilful, unsavoury and perverse. I have never heard of a word “perversable” but I don´t want to ruin such a whole-hearted insult !

CATERED TO

 “What the vast majority of American children needs is to stop being pampered, stop being indulged, stop being chauffeured, stop being catered to. In the final analysis it is not what you do for your children but what you have taught them to do for themselves that will make them successful human beings.”

Ann Landers, quoted on thinkexist.com

EXPANDED

“The mind, once expanded to the dimensions of larger ideas, never returns to its original size. “

Oliver Wendell Holmes, quoted on brainyquote.com

FAMOUS

“Fame hit me like a ton of bricks. ”

Eminem, quoted on brainyquote.com

FEMALE

 “Whenyou feel neglected, think of the female salmon, who lays 3,000,000 eggs but no one remembers her on Mother’s Day”

Sam Ewing, quoted on thinkexist.com

NETWORK

 “Social networking sites like Myspace, Friendster, and Facebook have literally exploded in popularity in just a few short years.”

Mike Fitzpatrick, quoted on finestquotes.com
Note: the words matrix and web are of similar importance.

OBTAINING OR GETTING

 “If you ask yourself limiting questions, you’ll get limited results. If you ask yourself mind-opening, forwarding questions, you’ll gain a lot more out of them”

Quoted in the article 101-questions-to-ask-yourself on personalexcellence.co

OPPONENTS

 “The opponents and I are really one. My strength and skills only half of the equation. The other half is theirs. An opponent is someone whose strength joined to yours creates a certain result.”

Sadaharu Oh, quoted on quotations.net

SUBSTITUTING …FOR

“The ability to quote is a serviceable substitute for wit”

Somerset Maugham, quoted on thinkexist.com

Did you find a quotation you liked, or do you have a different one to share?

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Learn 284 words in a month #10 – Personalize!

Use NEW words and USE new words. Make them yours. To know what they mean is not enough. You need to be comfortable with speaking them in a natural way, surrounded by other words.

Let´s say that you had CAREFULLY FEATURES PATIENT SWEET TECHNOLOGICAL THOROUGH CELEBRITIES FEEDBACK TRANSITION and PERSONALIZED as your new words.
Ask yourself which would be the most useful to you. I would choose TRANSITION becausepeople, situations and things are changing all the time, and each change involves a transition of some sort, between the old and the new. We could talk about the transitional government in Egypt, or the transition phase in a factory, while the workers learn to operate new machines. For children, the transition from a friendly primary school to a bigger one could be difficult time and, of course, the transition from studying in your own country to a foreign country could too!

Let´s take French for a change.

Looking at linguee.fr this time, we can see that our possibilities for Egypt are gouvernement de transition, gouvernement provisoire and governement transitoire. I can check which of these phrases is the most often used in real life by googling each phrase surrounded by inverted commas (“…..”).

The first scores 5.5 million hits, the second scores 2.1 million and the last one scores less than a million. That means I´ll probably use gouvernement transitoire.   But it is so useful to know an alternative way of saying it, for instance when you are doing an essay.  If you can show that you are able to use two or more ways of saying something, it really looks sophisticated.

As an added bonus, I discovered the English phrase “interim government” while I was looking at linguee.fr .

For “transitional phase” we can have phase de transition, phase transitoire, stade de transition, phase transitionnelle, période de transition etc.

Linguee. Fr also provides all sorts of other words which are used in the context of transition, such as transition towards, transitional measure, transitional arrangements, transitional provisions. It is a wonderful help.

But the thing I am really interested in now is which word you would choose, and which words you would find to accompany it.

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Learn 284 words in a month #9 – Dutch skating

http://www.2bdutch.nl/videos/figure-skating


SKATING IN THE NETHERLANDS
This six-minute video is about a year old now, but it is very topical and your challenge is to watch it in Dutch, with Dutch and English subtitles, and comment on it in English or Dutch!
The ten TOEFL words for today can be found below:
Conditions guarantee proceed unsatisfactory confident habitats process vigorously, confine, handle
Icy conditions in Europe are guaranteeing that the ice-skating can proceed! On Saturday there will be a day-long event on the Dutch TV about it.
Often the winters are not cold enough and the event is cancelled, which is most unsatisfactory.  However, we are lucky this year and can watch the skaters gliding vigorously down the canals of the Netherlands. I can´t handle ice skating very well, unfortunately, so will confine myself to being a spectator, in my normal winter habitat of our warm flat.
The process of processing on skates is surely one of the most elegant and cheerful sights of the Dutch winter. I am confident that you will enjoy it.

2bdutch

is an extremely helpful site if you are learning Dutch.  They have a good selection of short, subtitled videos.   Even if you just want to see more about the Netherlands, this is a good place to start.

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Learn 284 words in a month #8 – A surprising ending

Can you link AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL and MICROSCOPE in a paragraph? … or SPECTACULAR and ENDURING? … or CO-WORKERS and BRIGHT or EXTENSIVE and NOTORIOUSLY or SUBWAY and PRIVACY?

Could you make a short story from one (or more) of these pairs?

Could you start a story and ask others to finish it for you?

Here is some help to get you started:

Notorious usually means famous for the “wrong” reason. NOTORIOUSLY often goes with a negative sort of adjective, like a notoriously bad film, car, or actor. A film director can be notoriously difficult to work for. The TOEFL test can be notoriously demanding.

EXTENSIVE can mean “a lot of” or “thorough” or “careful”. The dictionary LEO gives several examples of the way it can be used, such as: extensive cuts in spending, extensive knowledge (a professor), an extensive search carried out by the police. Once you have remembered, or researched, some of the words which are often used with the new vocabulary, you can start to see a possible story emerging.

What is your story?

If you need help to finish it, or if you have an ending but would like to see how another reader of the blog would finish it, just use the comments box. It could be surprising!

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Learn 284 words in a month #7 The hard-working dentist

There are three challenges today, for the same ten words.

The easiest one, but good for spelling, is to find the words in the wordsearch below, the second one is to fit each of the ten words into this story about a dentist and the third is to illustrate the story and send it to me as an attachment to the address below, then I can use it here.

COMPANION, GEOTHERMAL, PREREQUISITES, UNLIKELY, CAREER, EXTRACTING, OVERTIME, SUSPICIOUS, PREDICT, TREMENDOUS

It seemed a bit  1___________ when a dentist in Liverpool starting claiming payment from the government  for  2 ___________ a 3  ___________  number of teeth.

Normally you can use statistics to 4 ___________ how many hours of 5 ___________ will be worked in a month and it is 6 ___________ that the number would suddenly increase dramatically.

The hours which he claimed to have worked were investigated.  What he spent his money on was also queried, and it was found that his son needed extra money to study the  7___________ activity near the Italian volcano, Etna.  The son was hoping to go there with a 8 ___________ from his geology course.  Naturally, there would be a few 9___________ to pay for, and the travel costs.

However, it makes you wonder whether too many teeth were taken out, in the effort to help the youngsters to go on their trip.  If so, the dentist was endangering his  10___________, but we can give him the benefit of the doubt.  Perhaps there was a long list of people in that area waiting for dental work to be done.

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284 words in a month #6 – Making sentences

When you are working in a foreign language it takes a little practice before you can link seemingly unconnected words into one theme. Tips for using your words in a sentence:

TIP ONE: Try two at a time, to begin with. For instance, you may be able to think of a situation where “daily” and “ideal” would appear in the same sentence, or the hazards of contracts.

daily ideal
contract, contractual hazards
vulnerable crisis
productive, productivity workdays
prolong humorous

TIP TWO: An on-line dictionary can help you to find those all-important phrases and collocations (words which often go together). In German or French I would recognise “Krise” or “Crise” but might know how to say “in a crisis situation” or “because of the economic crisis”.
Taking linguee.de as an example, I can look up the whole phrase “in a crisis” and the site will give me examples in German and English. For this particular phrase I can click “mehr Ergebnisse” … at the bottom of the page and get even more examples. Say I chose the last one:

“The war in Iraq and the Iranian diplomatic crisis are also unsettling the markets. emagazine.credit-suisse.com
Zudem verunsichern der Krieg im Irak sowie die diplomatische Krise mit Iran die Märkte. emagazine.credit-suisse.com”

I adapt it to read : “The Iranian diplomatic crisis is unsettling the financial markets and people are feeling vulnerable about their future income”.

As with any web material, there may be errors.  If you have to tread carefully.

TIP THREE is to choose something from your own experience, like the icy weather, as a starting point.
                                                               Kleve, 5 Feb 2012

See if you can link this photo of the “water” in the park as a theme to link two or more of today´s words.  Then you can talk with a friend about it, using some of the words again.  When you use the words often, they become part of your normal vocabulary, not something out of TOEFL word list.   The more you use them, the more quickly you will be able to bring them to mind.

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If at first you don´t succeed … 284 words in a month #5

Maybe you know the quotation “If at first you don´t succeed, try, try again” .  It seems that it first appeared in Thomas Palmer´s ‘Teacher’s Manual’ (1840)  and in ‘The Children of the New Forest’ (1847) by Frederick Maryat, an English novelist.

It must have been in my childhood that this was first quoted at me.  I liked the idea of persisting instead of giving up, but it is sometimes hard to try again when you have not been succesful.  Also, no-one likes banging their head agaist a brick wall.

Many years later, I saw this version of it: “If at first you don´t succeed, redefine success”.  This seems a great idea, because it lets you continue to aim for the same result if you want to, but you can approach it from a slightly different angle.

Yesterday I went out with a list of ten words which I intended to learn while I walked, but completely forgot to take the list out of my bag.  So today I will define “success” as remembering to look at the words!

Today´s challenge is to write an e-mail to a friend or a member of your family, or to talk to them, about 3 of the 10 words below:

BROADcasting, exTENsive, none-the-less, sufFIcient, capaBIlity, exTERnal, oMIT, supPORT, PAtient, THOrough.

Why?

  • It makes you select some of the words as being more important to you than some of the other words in the list.
  • While you are writing about them, you are using them to communicate, which is what words are for, not sitting in a list, lost among other words.
  • It makes the list shorter – you will read all the words but only need to take action on some of them.

Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand.”

Chinese proverb

By the way, have you read “The Children of the New Forest”?  This book review on the Amazon page looks interesting:

“With their father killed fighting for King Charles and their mansion home burnt down by the Roundheads, the four orphaned Beverley children find refuge with old Jacob Armitage, a forester and loyal servant of their father’s. In his cottage, deep in the New Forest, the children quickly have to learn hunting, housekeeping and the crafts of living off the land. When Jacob dies, the children are left completely alone to fend for themselves but despite being at constant risk of discovery, Edward, the eldest, is determined to help restore the king and regain his own inheritance.”

Other reviews say that the attitudes in the book seem snobbish now, but it still sounds worth reading to me.  I must go and see what the price of it is.

Do you know the New Forest, near the city of Southampton, in England?

Actually, the “New” forest has parts which are unchanged since the times of King William I of England in the eleventh century.  It is famous for its wild ponies.

Now, where was I before all these diversions into literature, forestry and history?

Ah, yes.  I must go and contact a friend about three words.

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