1. Seeker of the unknown
    Offline

    Seeker of the unknown Member

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2016
    Messages:
    17
    Likes Received:
    6

    How to learn a whole sets of specific, detailed words

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Seeker of the unknown, Apr 24, 2016.

    I seek to improve my vocabulary as stated in the thread title. That is I would like to acquire words that can give a very precise description and produce a detailed, vivid image. For instance instead of using every time the general "move" when I want to describe movement I could use "step", "slide", "roll", "walk' or "riplle", instead of "touch" I could use "poke", "pat" or "hit", and so on. The more catogeries, the better.

    Any advice will be helpful, except for the obvious "read more novels" :)
     
  2. BayView
    Offline

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    5,658
    Likes Received:
    5,142
    I don't really think you need to learn these words - you already know what they mean, right?

    So, actually, I'd say this is one of the few times when a thesaurus may be a useful tool. Too often they're used as a way to bring whole new words into a writer's vocabulary and can lead to some really awkward phrasing because the author isn't familiar with the nuances and connotations of the new word. But if you're already familiar with the word and just need to have your memory twigged? Thesaurus.
     
    CGB, Dearest Mothership and DeadMoon like this.
  3. Sack-a-Doo!
    Offline

    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2015
    Messages:
    2,231
    Likes Received:
    1,511
    Location:
    [unspecified]
  4. Yoav
    Offline

    Yoav Member

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2016
    Messages:
    24
    Likes Received:
    13
    Location:
    In the SQL server
    I have a similar problem however instead of trying to relearn the whole of the English language, I'm looking for a Thesaurus.
     
  5. NiallRoach
    Offline

    NiallRoach Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2015
    Messages:
    385
    Likes Received:
    276
    Location:
    The middle of the UK
    You should, ideally, only use words from a thesaurus that you already know, but which have slipped your mind. That's what I do.
     
    Sack-a-Doo! likes this.
  6. Seeker of the unknown
    Offline

    Seeker of the unknown Member

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2016
    Messages:
    17
    Likes Received:
    6
    Thank you for all replies. The problem is that, contrary to what you thought BayView, in many cases I only know the general term. I am not a native speaker and I havn't grasped much of the necessary, imagerial vocabulary.
     
  7. BayView
    Offline

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    5,658
    Likes Received:
    5,142
    Ooh. If you don't already know the word pretty well, honestly... I know it's not what you want to hear, but I think you need to read more. I can't think of another way to really grasp the subtle shades of meaning different words have, or to understand how they're generally used and what they mean to native speakers.
     
  8. Seeker of the unknown
    Offline

    Seeker of the unknown Member

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2016
    Messages:
    17
    Likes Received:
    6
    Well I guess in the end you are probably right. I was thinking about one way though - to write down all such words with their definitions and a couple of good examples of usage, then make flashcards and learn on a regular basis. Or do you think it will only create an artificial sense of their meanings and proper ways of expression?
     
  9. SethLoki
    Offline

    SethLoki Unemployed Autodidact Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2011
    Messages:
    592
    Likes Received:
    478
    Location:
    Manchester UK
    The source of their usage has to be spot on or there's the risk of the loss of context that you'll then introduce into you writing.

    What @BayView said regarding the reading. For a bit of diversity you could extend this by watching films/shows that are revered for their scripts. Subtitles on, pause button and pen close to hand.

    Is you goal to get published in a second language on the strength of your translation alone? You're asking a lot of yourself if that's the case.
     
    Seeker of the unknown likes this.
  10. BayView
    Offline

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    5,658
    Likes Received:
    5,142
    I'm speaking from the perspective of someone who's dealt with people trying to increase their vocabulary in their native languages, so things might be different for someone trying to increase his or her vocabulary in a second language... that said, I do think there's a risk of that artificial sense you mention, a false confidence that because you understand the denotation you also understand the connotation.

    @Wreybies may have more to say about ways to increase vocabulary and fluency in non-native languages...
     
    Seeker of the unknown likes this.
  11. Sack-a-Doo!
    Offline

    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2015
    Messages:
    2,231
    Likes Received:
    1,511
    Location:
    [unspecified]
    http://www.thesauraus.com

    Excellent cross references, too. The only drawback is for non-Americans because it's all U.S. spellings. Good thing we can translate, eh. :)
     
  12. Samuel Lighton
    Offline

    Samuel Lighton Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2016
    Messages:
    353
    Likes Received:
    187
    Best way to learn is to pick up a thesaurus, write a piece, and look for parts where you've repeated a word too close to each other. Generally, in that situation I would change the sentence so that repetition didn't happen, but it'd train you to A) learn your own pet words B) use alternative words that fit better.

    What I do need to say, is that if you're just trying to jazz up a piece with fancier words for the sake of the fancier word then that trick won't work. It'd smack of pretentiousness in the sense that you're trying to make a simple sentence a lot more complex than it delivers on.
     
  13. Wreybies
    Offline

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    18,893
    Likes Received:
    10,081
    Location:
    Puerto Rico
    Practice, practice, practice. Use, use, use. There is no other way. It's like juggling. I can explain the basic concept of what to do with your hands, but your hands have to learn the rhythm and the timing until there's no thought process, there's just action and reaction.

    I speak several languages and have made my living as an interpreter and a translator nearly my whole adult life and the process of learning is never ending because language is ever changing. The very use of the word ever in the prior sentence is a good example. It means always, but it's a word in the middle of a longstanding semantic shift where always is replacing it and the use of ever is restricted to certain phrases, syntaxes, and archaic speech. Were I to say I am ever your friend, we all know what that means, but the quaintly antique ring to that usage is unmistakable to the native ear and may well be lost on a newcomer. One must simply learn through trial and error when to say haste and when to say speed, because though they are technically synonyms, in modern usage haste carries a connotation of thoughtlessness and lack of care.
     
  14. Seeker of the unknown
    Offline

    Seeker of the unknown Member

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2016
    Messages:
    17
    Likes Received:
    6
    Thank you guys for the responses.

    I am absolutely aware that there is way more to the meaning of the word than its immediate definition. I will probably paraphrase most of you if I say that each word has its own unique story and the connonation is only part of it. And that's exactly what I am after - the essence which is hidden under the surface. I don't want to simply increase my vocabulary just to, here and there, avoid repeating the same word by using its synonym. Neither I want to embelish my writing just for the sake of sparks. My goal is to become as precise as possible in expressing myself. I want to become a non-fiction writer who deals with matters of spirituality, psychology and social analysis, but since my main target will be laypeople, I will often have to resort to metaphors and other figures of speech. Unfortunately, I experience many moments when I have a clear image in my mind, but I can't paint it with words. At best, I am just able to draw the curves.
     
  15. Wreybies
    Offline

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    18,893
    Likes Received:
    10,081
    Location:
    Puerto Rico
    You sell yourself short. You just expressed yourself with an eloquence that escapes many a native speaker. :)

    One correction:

    Neither I want to embellish my writing just for the sake of sparks.

    Should be:

    Nor do I wish to embellish my writing just for the sake of sparks.

    But I understand what drives you, believe me. My hubby often gets frustrated with me when I press him for answers concerning precise and exact Spanish usage that answer to higher registers than conversational. It's not in his nature to speak that way. He'll give me an answer and not be able to explain the why of it, the underlying mechanics, and that's the part I crave because that's the part that will enable correct execution in future instances that are the same or similar.
     
  16. Yoav
    Offline

    Yoav Member

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2016
    Messages:
    24
    Likes Received:
    13
    Location:
    In the SQL server
    The site doesn't exist.
     
    Sack-a-Doo! likes this.
  17. Seeker of the unknown
    Offline

    Seeker of the unknown Member

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2016
    Messages:
    17
    Likes Received:
    6
    Thank you for your comment as well as correction :) It's good to see a non-native speaker who has mastered English language, it gives me hope.
     
    Wreybies likes this.
  18. Wreybies
    Offline

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    18,893
    Likes Received:
    10,081
    Location:
    Puerto Rico
    Um.. just to correct any misrepresentation that may have come across, English is my native and organic language. It is the language in which the operating system of my brain functions. I am ethnically Latino but I lived nearly my whole life in the U.S. My current location is a bit of an adventure into my own cultural past. ;)
     
  19. Seeker of the unknown
    Offline

    Seeker of the unknown Member

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2016
    Messages:
    17
    Likes Received:
    6
    You have just depraved me of the hope I kindled in myself few seconds ago due to the wrong interpretation...

    Just kidding :)
     
  20. Sack-a-Doo!
    Offline

    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2015
    Messages:
    2,231
    Likes Received:
    1,511
    Location:
    [unspecified]
    Oops! I spelled 'thesaurus' wrong. My bad.

    http://www.thesaurus.com/
     
    Yoav likes this.
  21. Wayjor Frippery
    Offline

    Wayjor Frippery Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2016
    Messages:
    609
    Likes Received:
    707
    Location:
    Tranquility Base
    Me too. I'm in the same boat as Wreybies. I'm also an EFL teacher. My advice (echoing the gist of what's gone before):

    Learning a language is like going to the gym. There is no magic and there is no mystery. If you pump iron every day, your muscles grow. If you use your target language every day, your mastery of it grows. Listen, speak, read and write as much as you can in contexts that you enjoy and you will achieve your goal. All you need is time. Formal study can accelerate the process (for some people), but there is no substitute for immersion and use.

    One day I will read Don Quijote de la Mancha in the original Spanish, and one day you, Seeker, will find all the words you need.
     
    Seeker of the unknown likes this.

Share This Page