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vocabulary

Ellen Zhao
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Joined: Sep 17, 2002
Posts: 581
Wilfred Funk and Norman Lewis:
Your boss has a bigger vocabulary than you have.
That's one good reason why he's your boss.
This discovery has been made in the word laboratories of the world. Not by theoretical English professors, but by practical, hard-headed scholars who have been searching for the secrets of success.
After a host of experiments and years of testing they have found out:
That if your vocabulary is limited your chances of success are limited.
That one of the easiest and quickest ways to get ahead is by consciously building up your knowledge of words.
That the vocabularyl of the average person almost stops growing by the middle twenties.
And that from then on it is necessary to have an intelligent plan if progress is to be made. No haphazard hit-or-miss methods will do.
It has long since been satisfactorily established that a high executive does not have a large vocabulary merely because of the opportunities of his position. That would be putting the cart before the horse. Quite the reverse is true. His skill in words was a tremendous help in getting him his job.
Dr.Johnson O';Connor of thee Human Engineering Laboratory of Boston and of the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey, gave a vocabulary test to 100 young men who were studying to be industrial executives.
Five years later those who had passed in the upper ten percent all., without exception, had executive positions, while not a single young man of the lower twenty-five per cent had become an executive.
You see, there are certain factors in success that can be measured as scientifically as the contents of a test-tube, and it has been discovered that the most common characteristic of outstanding success is "an extensive knowledge of the exact meaning of English words".
The extent of your vocabulary indicates the degree of your intelligence. Your brain power will increase as you learn to know more words. Here's the proof.
Two classes in a high school were selected for an experiment. Their ages and their environment were the same. Each class represented an identical cross-section of the community. One, the control class, took the normal courses. The other class was given special vocabulary training. At the end of the period the marks of the latter class surpassed those of the control group, not only in English, but in every subject, including mathematics and the sciences.
Similarly it has been found by Professor Lewis M.Terman, of Stanford University, that a vocabulary test is as accurate a measure of intelligence as any three units of the standard and accepted Stanford-Binet I.Q.tests.
The study of words is not merely something that has to do with literature. Words are your tools of thought. You can't even think at all without them. Try it. If you are planning to go down town this afternoon you will find that you are saying to yourself:"I think I will go down town this afternoon." You can't make such a simple decision as this without using words.
Without words you could make no decisions and from no judgments whatsoever. A pianist may have the most beautiful tunes in his head, but if he had only five keys on his piano he would never get more than a fraction of these tunes out.
Your words are your keys for your thoughts. And the more words you have at your command the deeper, clearer and more accurate will be your thinking.
A command of English will not only improve the. processes of your mind. It will give you assurance; build your self-confidence; lend color to your personality; increase your popularity. Your words are your personality. Your vocabulary is you.
Your words are all that we, your friends, have to know and judge you by. You have no other medium for telling us your thoughts-for convincing us, persuading us, giving us orders.
Words are explosive. Phrases are packed with TNT.A simple word can destroy a friendship, land a large order. The proper phrases in the mouths of clerks have quadrupled the proper phrases inthe mouths of clerks have quadrupled the sales of a department store. The wrong words used by a campaign orator have lost an election. For instance, on one occasion the four unfortunate words, "Rum, Romanism and a Rebellion" used in a Republican campaign speech threw the Catholic vote and the presidential victory to Grover Cleveland. Ears are won by words. Soldiers fight for a phrase."Make the world safe for Democracy." "All out for England." "V for Victory." The " Remember the Maine" of Spanish war days has now been changed to "Remember Pearl Harbor."
Words have changed the direction of history. Words van also change the direction of your life. They have often raised a man from mediocrity to success.
If you consciously increase your vocabulary you will unconsciously raise yourself to a more important station in life, and the new and higher position you have won will, in turn, give you a better opportunity for further enriching your vocabulary. It is a beautiful and successful cycle.
...

I have to admit, my 8-months� study of German language is not enough to make an academic speech of 20 minutes long...it is the presentation of my thesis( something like graduate thesis ), the technical stuff in the speech is not too profound or fancy but this speech keeps me sweating these days, I wrote down all the sentences I should tell and have been reciting it all the time, but I can never recite the answers to the instructors' live questions, and I am not allowed to answer them in English( the assigned literatures are all in English ). . Vocabulary has never been so crucial to me before...I remembered this old article I read years ago, now I find, what a truth the author told!

Ellen
[ January 24, 2003: Message edited by: Ellen Fu ]
Bert Bates
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    5
I'd have preferred to read this on the sward, perhaps next to the boscage, or maybe on the veldt, but it was too cold, and the fen too moist, so I opted for the divan.


Spot false dilemmas now, ask me how!
(If you're not on the edge, you're taking up too much room.)
Mapraputa Is
Leverager of our synergies
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Joined: Aug 26, 2000
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Now I feel provoked! Thank you for asking my opinion.
In my opinion, the author told only a half of truth.
The study of words is not merely something that has to do with literature. Words are your tools of thought.
This is true (well, at least to a point) but the back side of it is that tools you use are your limitations.
"When we think we are using language, language is using us. As linguist Dwight Bolinger put it (employing a military metaphor), language is like a loaded gun: it can be fired intentionally, but it can wound or kill just as surely when fired accidentally. The terms in which we talk about something shape the way we think about it -- and even what we see."
Deborah Tannen. The Argument Culture. Moving from debate to dialogue.
Your words are all that we, your friends, have to know and judge you by. You have no other medium for telling us your thoughts-for convincing us, persuading us, giving us orders.
Some of most exhilarating moments in my life were when I used my bad English to talk to people who weren't much better than me at it. I never had this feeling of understanding ever before. We knew we couldn't rely too much on words other utter, since they were chosen at random and only loosely corresponded to the underlying idea, that's why we had to listen. Only then did I understand what some Chinese philosopher was talking about when saying "I want to find a man who forgot words and to talk to him".
This doesn't matter that working on one's vocabulary is considered harmful -- nothing even close. But without some desire to see through words and understand your interlocutor in spite of his/her words, it looks a little like arms race to me.
Sorry for semi-hijacking this thread. Of course technical, scientific or business discourse are different from casual conversations -- they are supposed to be "arms race" in some sense.
[ January 24, 2003: Message edited by: Mapraputa Is ]

Uncontrolled vocabularies
"I try my best to make *all* my posts nice, even when I feel upset" -- Philippe Maquet
Ellen Zhao
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Joined: Sep 17, 2002
Posts: 581
Originally posted by Bert Bates:
I'd have preferred to read this on the sward, perhaps next to the boscage, or maybe on the veldt, but it was too cold, and the fen too moist, so I opted for the divan.

cute!
To Mapraputa,
I agree with you completely. Neither did I have a good feeling towards the "Your vocabulary is you.
Your words are all that we, your friends, have to know and judge you by. You have no other medium for telling us your thoughts-for convincing us, persuading us, giving us orders...." and I never intended to provoke anyone here. Sorry.
Days ago I ran into an awkward situation. I sent the draft of the discourse to my instructors and asked them for their opinion. Two days later I got the feedback. The ladies gave me detailed constructive critique. I was very grateful to it - without their opinions I would not know how to improve my presentation. But one sentence in their email did hurt me a little bit. They asked: "Did you ever tried to go to the library to read german literatures? Did you ever tried to look up the dictionaries to get the German words?" Yes I do. I do look up dictionaries when translating the sentences into German. And also I did a lot of hard work in the library to make the technical concepts and processes clear in my mind( but sorry, for efficiency I didn�t read german literatures ). "Your vocabulary is you. Your words are all that we, your friends, have to know and judge you by. You have no other medium for telling us your thoughts-for convincing us, persuading us, giving us orders...." I was so upset that it really ruled . When it came to some technical terms, either there is no entry in the dictionary, or there are soooooo many possibilities I didn�t know which one to choose. I left English words and sentences in my presentation, that might made them think I didn't do enough work. Merely upsetting would bring me nothing. For two days I worked till 3:00 am to make the text as decent as I can possibly do then sent the draft again. This time they were satisfied, and even told me I can keep some terms like viewport, viewplane, parallelpiped... in English as long as they don�t bring too much confusion to the audience. And also told me please not to feel nervous, take it easy and I can drink water there if I want I find the instructors are very kind and responsible, I appreciate them.
Now I am ready for the formal presentation. But actually I still don�t feel too happy about the text I wrote. There�s much nagging makes the text less professional and very childish though understandable. This again convinces me that vocabulary is important. Actually it�s also true in programming language. The more classes and methods one knows in Java API, the greater the possibility of more effective and elegant codes one can generate there is. If I didn�t know java.util.Vector, then maybe I had to implement a LinkedList package; If I didn�t know java.util.Random, then maybe I had to implement a uniformly distributed random number generator. Which approach is better? I think the difference is obvious.

Ellen
[ January 25, 2003: Message edited by: Ellen Fu ]
Mapraputa Is
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Posts: 10065
Ellen Fu: and I never intended to provoke anyone here. Sorry.
No, no, I mean "provoke" in good sense, as providing me with an excuse to rant. Where is my favorite quote...
"Hey this is meaningless drivel. We THRIVE on such excitement. Peace is BORING."
Rahul Rathore
No need to feel sorry.
I agree with you completely. Neither did I have a good feeling towards the "Your vocabulary is you.
Ah, Ok. Than I can say that the text above was probably written by an English major I read somewhere that studying arts magically improves math scores, or that emotional "IQ" is a better predicting factor of success in life than "pure intellectual "IQ" etc. But that the large vocabulary is the main factor helping people to become industrial executives -- this I did not know...
the most common characteristic of outstanding success is "an extensive knowledge of the exact meaning of English words".
-- this probably means that there are several far more important factors, and they are so different that there is no single one that can explain "success". The only common (12th in contribution) factor researches could find was "an extensive knowledge of the exact meaning of English words"
"The extent of your vocabulary indicates the degree of your intelligence. Your brain power will increase as you learn to know more words."

I agree that vocabulary is an indicator. Like mercury column in thermometer indicates the temperature in a room. To warm a thermometer to get better numbers and to make the room warmer are different things.
"Did you ever tried to go to the library to read german literatures? Did you ever tried to look up the dictionaries to get the German words?"
- this wasn't too nice.
When it came to some technical terms, either there is no entry in the dictionary, or there are soooooo many possibilities I didn't know which one to choose.
Do not tell me! And even professional translators do not translate into a foreign language, they translate from a foreign into a native. Ellen, do you study in Germany? Couldn't someone just help you to render your thesis in German?
[ January 25, 2003: Message edited by: Mapraputa Is ]
Ellen Zhao
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Joined: Sep 17, 2002
Posts: 581
Ellen, do you study in Germany? Couldn't someone just help you to render your thesis in German?

Yes I study in Germany. I finished my thesis in English at home in September then a German schoolmate translated it for me - It was in very sophisticated German, usually 3 or 4 lines make one sentence I believe I could hardly understand it if I hadn�t write the original English one. In November the semester started, I have been embedded in some heavy courses( threads and communication, numerical algorithm, algorithm analysis and design, etc) Then came the presentation. The oral presentation can not be in that long sentences, I tried to reorganized the content in my thesis and wrote all the text for presentation myself. Of course I could ask someone to help me. But first, studying of cs here is tough( They taught theoretical cs in great depth in 1st or 2nd semester, a nightmare to all ), everyone is very busy, I don�t feel comfortable to take too much of others' time. Second, I wanted to be independent, or say, self-reliant. There are still occasions in which I have to speak a lot of German, if I always avoid writing and speaking, how can I make it? I cannot always rely on others. So that...
Sorry there were typo in my post. The sentences should be "Did you ever try to ...? Did you ever try to..." but not "Did you ever tried to.." When I just saw it I could not help my tears going out, I called my parents and said I didn�t want to stay here anymore. Then later I just thought: My instructors really pointed out many flaws in my draft of presentation, that was a lot of boring work but they did it for me. They wanted to see improvement from me so that they wrote back. Otherwise why they bothered so much. Maybe they misunderstood me but nothing can change their opinion unless I eventually do any good. In addition, in the email, they were willing to offer study resource and said I could go to visit them anytime if there is any question. They are helping me but not trying to depress me. Now the emotional uneasiness has completely gone. I really appreciate their critique.

Ellen
[ January 25, 2003: Message edited by: Ellen Fu ]
Navi Singh
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Joined: Jul 24, 2002
Posts: 80
Duh!..Vhoa..cabulary... Duh!!
Wor..sds.. Duh!
"Neveer Likedd School/Callage"
[ January 25, 2003: Message edited by: Pravin Palia ]
[ January 25, 2003: Message edited by: Pravin Palia ]
Michael Ernest
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Joined: Oct 25, 2000
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I agree with you completely. Neither did I have a good feeling towards the "Your vocabulary is you.
Ah, Ok. Than I can say that the text above was probably written by an English major
More like a dictionary salesman, dear. :roll:
Mapraputa Is
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And how does one contradict to another, Engl... Never mind.
Mapraputa Is
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Joined: Aug 26, 2000
Posts: 10065
When I just saw it I could not help my tears going out, I called my parents and said I didn�t want to stay here anymore.

Maybe there are some cultural differences... Do they have "evaluation" in Germany? In Russia it is a common thing for college professors to talk disparagingly about students or even insult them. I guess, it's a part of social agreement. It's supposed that teachers are far more knowledgeable and know better what is good for students, so students aren't expected to complain. Not all instructors do this, of course, but those who feel like it, are free to express their disdain.
I remember, once we were taking a test, and it's normally done aloud in front of the whole group, and nobody will conceal your grades - they are known to everybody... Well, at some point instructor asked if I graduated from a "normal" school (as opposed to special schools for children with mental problems). I wasn't too high opinion about my school myself, so I spitefully mumbled that it depends on how to understand "normal" and everybody laughed. I guess, this would sound as a personal insult for a foreign student. But then, you would expect instructors not to treat foreign students in the same way...
I thought it's an oriental trait in our education system. Japanese students I met said that American teachers are very nice, not like Japanese, and that in high school a teacher can even hit students (but now in college). Then Latino students said that although their teachers do not practice physical abuse, they are also pretty mean. I wonder how is it in Europe.
[ January 25, 2003: Message edited by: Mapraputa Is ]
Axel Janssen
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Joined: Jan 08, 2001
Posts: 2164
Originally posted by Ellen Fu:

"Did you ever try to ...? Did you ever try to..."

I think germans and especially in academia-land sometimes tend to be a little un-diplomatic. Its a now-I-am-going-to-tell-the-holy truth, which just needs to get out.
In academia there is still some strange humboldinic aspiration here (A. v. Humboldt lived in the 18th/19th century and was very universalistic, but that's long before xml-schema. Today its just impossible).
And it doesn't stop in academia.
<out-of-topic>
I am now getting mad by prepairing a 3 day course with advanced web programming with domino, xml, xslt, dtd, wsad as xml tool (hey its cool btw), domino and xml, websphere, comparision of websphere and domino, J2EE with programming examples.
</out-of-topic>

I wouldn't take it too serious. After the rant your teachers probably did not feel well.
My sister occupied brains of study mates for weeks
Better ask someone (or better a group) to help you (not me ). You may invite them, cook something for them and buy some beer, wine and harder stuff when finished.
[ January 25, 2003: Message edited by: Axel Janssen ]
Axel Janssen
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Joined: Jan 08, 2001
Posts: 2164
Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:
Latino students said that although their teachers do not practice physical abuse, they are also pretty mean. I wonder how is it in Europe.


In univerity I had courses in economics and some courses in arts. There was a huge difference. In Economics it was mostly very competitive and tuff. When you're presentation wasn't good, lots of professors and assistance made cynic jokes.
Arts was more fluffy.
I allways had the feeling that most people prepaired for a career as cab driver or housewife afterwards, so why take it to serious? I really hated this.
[ January 25, 2003: Message edited by: Axel Janssen ]
Ellen Zhao
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Joined: Sep 17, 2002
Posts: 581
To Map,
First of all, I think Germany is a very generous country - expensive university education is tuition free here. Even for foreign students. I appreciate it.
The population of a class can be rather huge - usually 200 to 300 students listening to one professor in a big classroom according to my experience. Then there is much work leave for you to do after the class. The homework is usually not conceived by the professors but their assistants. So that the homework and the lectures do not always match. I have to go to library everyday and read a lot literatures in order to make sense of both lecture and homework( and come to JavaRanch to ask questions ). And in the library, I see many German students are doing the same hard work. It is said in an article written by an Italian that studying in Europe is much more independent than in USA, help and detailed instructions from professors are not always available. I don�t know about other countries, but I guess in my univ. it�s true.
Generally speaking, the professors here are very kind, patient and friendly to students. But we don�t really have too many chances to know them in person. The professor who teaches concurrency and communication is my advisor, he is a very interesting sir and tried everything to make his lecture vivid. But my thesis has nothing to do with my advisor( sounds strange and I feel pity, but it�s very common here ), the instructors mentioned above are two assistants of another professor whom I never met( there are also students never met their advisors ). They were kind indeed to me when I went to their office asking for advice. And there was also much detailed technical support in their emails to me. So, my opinion is: they are responsible, kind and helpful. I should not be too sensitive.
I am a Chinese. Before I came here I spent one year in a Chinese college. I still remember a teacher of physics: She bought lunch for us with her own money when we were working in lab, and she made appointments with students to offer help even in the night. Another sir who tought German, he was insulting students all the time but in an extremely funny way, later everyone got used to it and enjoyed it, and we learnt to insult him in the same way. I think our colleges are good.
Okay, enough drivel today, I gotta sleep and write something echoSever echoClient tomorrow. Thanks to all the ppl above and see you then.
Ellen
[ January 26, 2003: Message edited by: Ellen Fu ]
Bert Bates
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    5
What a great thread!
So I have to admit that vocabulary is a hobby of mine... that said, I have always placed a great deal of importance on communcation skills, and although I enjoy big and/or unusual words they are clearly not the key to good communications. I have worked with many incredible engineers whose second language is english, and some of the best communicators I know have relatively small english vocabularies.
There is something else, some ineffable , about effective communication, that goes way beyond mere vocabulary.
Ellen Zhao
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Joined: Sep 17, 2002
Posts: 581
Originally posted by Axel Janssen:

You may invite them, cook something for them and buy some beer, wine and harder stuff when finished.
[ January 25, 2003: Message edited by: Axel Janssen ]

Learn the stuff to be an engineer while exercising to be a housewife. I think I am going to implement your Brilliant idea.
Die Ergebnisse hat heute schon erscheint. Bestanden. Aber nicht so gut wie ich erwartete. Die zwei geehrte Betreuerinen sagten mir: Du sollst viel mehr Deutsch �ben, catch any student if you can( I forgot the original sentence from them ), und dann reden, reden, reden. Na gut, ich �berlege, dass nachdem die Abschlussklausuren einige deutsche Leute einladen, Essen und Trinken nat�rlich, aber es soll auf jeden Fall redenorientiert.( wohne mit einem M�dchen aus USA und einem anderem aus China. Selten spreche ich Deutsch, nur in den Vorlesungen h�ren und danach die �bungsbl�tte lesen, Literaturen auf Englisch.)
Ich habe gesehen, dass einige deutsche Studenten traurig da waren, wenn wir die Ergebinisse abholten. Also, Vokabel ist nicht alles, ich soll noch viele technische Arbeiten weiter machen, um n�chst mal meinen Vortrag zu verbessern.

Regards,
Ellen
[ February 05, 2003: Message edited by: Ellen Fu ]
Mapraputa Is
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Donnerwetter! Du sprichst ja wunderbar Deutsch!
By the way, does anybody use "donnerwetter" in Germany now? I think, last time I met in a book about pirates.
Mapraputa Is
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Joined: Aug 26, 2000
Posts: 10065
Well, Ok, I copied the phrase above from a textbook. And you thought I know German, no? :roll:
I was studying German in school and then in the University (9 years total :roll: ) and then forgot it completely. I once picked up a textbook in German and it looked completely foreign to me. But recently I read Hofstadter's "Le Ton beau de Marot" book that Thomas Paul recommended to me, and I got mad that Hofstadter knows at least Italian, French and Polish (and I could forget some more) and these he learnt while working at the University, doing AI research and writing books. I felt like a total slacker and decided to put my nose into German textbook in a desperate attempt to recall something. To my big surprise I did recall some words, and even grammar did not cause such a deep protest in me as English grammar did. What's interesting, a lot of German words are similar (more or less) to English. I did not notice it when I learnt English after German!
Ellen, you learnt German after English? Did it help that you know English?
Anyway, here is a part of dialogue that looks funny to me:
Q: Was macht man mit Bleistift und Feder?
A: Man schreibt damit.
Translation:
Q: What does one do with pencil and pen?
A: One writes with them.
?
It was funny to me.
Usually we discourage posts in other languages, so I am feeling guilty, but... If we keep German inside this thread, it should be Ok? Ellen, please keep on posting in German if you would like (in this thread), it's interesting.
[ February 06, 2003: Message edited by: Mapraputa Is ]
Tim Perkuhn
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Joined: Jan 31, 2003
Posts: 17
Donnerwetter! Du sprichst ja wunderbar Deutsch! (Mapraputa Is)

Any german would understand that sentence, but only my grandfather would say it today.
Axel Janssen
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Joined: Jan 08, 2001
Posts: 2164
Originally posted by Ellen Fu:

Na gut

Hi Ellen,
"Na gut" is great. . That's coloquial german. Of course, your german is different from germans born here. Learning a language is a long time process.
How often I was in some spanish conversation and did not understand a word?
And sometimes they laughed about me.

If you don't give up, you won't forget it.
...and never mind the nitpickers . If you invest your energy in learning our gramatically quite unstructured language, germans should be happy about it.
And don't be too nitpicking with yourself. Me, when I was learning spanish, allways thought that I have my own spanish, which will adapt to the environment with the time. And it worked. At least they said.
regards Axel
Frank Carver
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Joined: Jan 07, 1999
Posts: 6920
I have found a large vocabulary to be a double-edged sword. Surely it helps develop the intellect, but it can also often be frustrating.
My mental model for how vocabularly can help understanding is a little like a java HashMap. The words you know form the "keys" of the Map. The more words you know, the more concepts you can store, and the more fine-grained you can make your associations between concepts. To take a concrete example, imagine you only know the word "bird", with that word you can associate obvious stuff which distinguishes "bird" from other things :- it's alive, it can fly etc. But do birds have a particular colour?, do they have specific habits, are they found in particular environments? Don't know. They're just "birds".
Now, let's imagine we know the words "seagull", "eagle", "robin" as well. Now we can associate information. Seagulls are often white or mostly white and live near water. Eagles are large and hunt other creatures, robins are smaller and have red fronts. Even more, we are now free to consider the existence of other types of "bird", and associate appearance, behavior and so on with them.
The larger vocabulary has not just enabled us to list the names of some birds, it has allowed us to categorize and subdivide the information we can recall.
As for the frustration. I know that I sometimes find it difficult to express what I want to say, when I try to use an alternative language in which I know fewer words. I feel the need to express a precise concept, but only have vague and inappropriate words to say it in. I can't help feeling that If I had a smaller vocabulary in my native language, this would not be so much of a problem; the vague words would be "near enough".


Read about me at frankcarver.me ~ Raspberry Alpha Omega ~ Frank's Punchbarrel Blog
Ellen Zhao
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Joined: Sep 17, 2002
Posts: 581
Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:
Donnerwetter! Du sprichst ja wunderbar Deutsch!

Thanks to Map. I�m not really deserve your nice words, feeling very embarrassed. And thank you very much for your tolerance to my stupid German post, I will keep German only in this thread.
After 6.5 years� learning of English, I started to learn German when I was a freshman in China. Still remember my first English lesson:
Meet Sandy and Sue, this is Sue�s class. Her teacher�s Mr. Chrisp. "Which is your pen, Sue?" "The red pen, Sir." "Here you are, Sue." "Thank you, Sir." -- Standard British English.
But I cannot recall my first German lesson now, which is a shame. English and German are completely different from Chinese. Here are three main differences in my opinion:
1. I saw in another thread talking about "time" in different language, concepts such as "at", "in", "on"... seldom appear in decent Chinese text. "Let�s meet at 7:00am tomorrow" is always "Let�s meet 7:00am tomorrow" in Chinese.
2. It�s "one bird, two birds, three birds" in English but in Chinese, it�s always "one bird, two bird, three bird..." there�s no pl. format of nouns in Chinese.
3. In English it is "You were at school yesterday, I am at school today, he is going to school tomorrow", but in Chinese, it�s always "You be at school yesterday, I be at school today, He be at school tomorrow." A verb never changes according to Subject and the state of time.
So, there�s much for a Chinese to take time to get used to when learning English. Fortunately the structures of sentences are not too different between English and Chinese. And, compared to German, the grammar of English is much more flexible. When I started learning German, the "der, das, die, dem, den, des" nealy killed me( all of them are just "the" in English ), every noun has a gender, that increases the complexity of a language magnificently. Till now, when I talk to German people, sometimes the whole sentence is just on the tip of my tongue, but I have to wonder whether the noun in my sentence is a man, woman or kid. Becauses of this, I usually swallow what I want to say fianlly.
I heard that the Russian language is more complex than German . And, the Russian students here are really very good at speaking German, they also learnt it quite fast. Map, were you born in Russia? Great! I guess there might be less trouble to learn German or English for you. I wish I could learn some Russian some day. Some Russian literatures are just GREAT. I have a book "Dr. Zhivago" here with me, but it�s translated into English.
The story of Hopstadter is very impressive. AI itself is already tough enough, mathematical logic is just another totally different language, but he�s simultaneously a polyglot. What a intelligent and diligent man. I�d learn from him and study harder. Thank you very much for the story. ( btw, the German AI research centre is in my univ, I�ve been there for several times. It�s awesome for me One of the head prof. there is very kind to students. )

To Axel,
Thanks to the encouragement. I appreciate the nitpickers. Now, all the BWL, case analysis etc. come, I�ll definitely exercise German more and more. Am willing to invest energy and time.
Regards,
Ellen
Mapraputa Is
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Joined: Aug 26, 2000
Posts: 10065
Frank Carver: My mental model for how vocabularly can help understanding is a little like a java HashMap. The words you know form the "keys" of the Map. The more words you know, the more concepts you can store, and the more fine-grained you can make your associations between concepts. <...> The larger vocabulary has not just enabled us to list the names of some birds, it has allowed us to categorize and subdivide the information we can recall.
But it also makes our mental models rigid by imposing certain set of categories. There is a good book about how language defines thought: "Metaphors we live by". Maybe not the best book, but I like it and I haven't read anything better so far.
As for the frustration. I know that I sometimes find it difficult to express what I want to say, when I try to use an alternative language in which I know fewer words. I feel the need to express a precise concept, but only have vague and inappropriate words to say it in. I can't help feeling that If I had a smaller vocabulary in my native language, this would not be so much of a problem; the vague words would be "near enough".
This can be an artifact of English, as English probably has the largest vocabulary among all languages. I do not have this problem and never had (or maybe I did not/do not realize it...). Instead my problem is that I often have too many words to choose from. Not that I know all them, but often I meet a new word and there is no analog for it in Russian, the word has too narrow meaning. It would never naturally occurred to me to use this word because I do not think in such well-grained categories. So not only do I need to learn new words, but to examine and expand my metal space also. But this is not frustrating, it's exciting.
This is why English is a perfect language for international communications. Large vocabulary and relatively simple grammar. (And parts of grammar you cannot get you can always simplify. The language will only benefit from it )
Mapraputa Is
Leverager of our synergies
Sheriff

Joined: Aug 26, 2000
Posts: 10065
In English it is "You were at school yesterday, I am at school today, he is going to school tomorrow", but in Chinese, it�s always "You be at school yesterday, I be at school today, He be at school tomorrow." A verb never changes according to Subject and the state of time.
Ellen, thank you for explanations! I vaguely remember reading that there is no verb tense in Chinese, but I wasn't sure how it works. And your other observations make perfect sense, since Chinese uses hieroglyphs, it would be stupid to change them according to number, tense etc. I would guess that nouns do not have case either? What did I say, that even simple English grammar can be radically simplified further.
Regarding Chinese, this is from Roseanne Zhang XML FAQ I discovered today (there is more, but I decided to quote a least a part):
"I'm a Chinese in China, should I learn XML in Chinese or English?
<...>
  • The beauty of Chinese is that we use existing characters to make-up new vocabularies. This makes education of our children much easier than any other language on earth. Because every Chinese character has meaning inside, which is opposite to a,b,c,..., we can guess the meaning of a new word nice and easy. We can learn the meaning of the new word by context. We use our Chinese dictionaries much less often than native English speakers or others.
  • The very beauty of Chinese turns out to against us when we need to translate huge amount of new vocabularies in a relative short period of time. The guesswork makes Chinese hard to understand and lack of accuracy. "

  • http://bobcat.webappcabaret.net/javachina/faq/xml_01.htm#xgen_Q05
    (Roseanne gave a link in "XML certification" forum, little did she know where her link really belongs to.
    When I started learning German, the "der, das, die, dem, den, des" nealy killed me( all of them are just "the" in English ), every noun has a gender, that increases the complexity of a language magnificently. I heard that the Russian language is more complex than German. And, the Russian students here are really very good at speaking German, they also learnt it quite fast. Map, were you born in Russia? Great! I guess there might be less trouble to learn German or English for you.
    Yes to both. I suspect it was much easier to me to learn German or English , because in Russian nouns also have gender, so the "der, das, die, dem, den, des" wasn't too bad. I had to memorize and I probably made mistakes, but it wasn't conceptually difficult. And Russian has 6 cases rather than German's 4 and English's 2, so to switch to simpler version wasn't too bad either. But when there is something that is absent in Russia (like articles or certain verb tenses in English) - then I am lost. I can imagine how frustrating European languages are for Chinese people. Maybe the solution would be to teach Chinese kids English at early age, and to make English-speaking kids learn Chinese
    Speaking of which, one of languages that Hofstadter know (or knew, he said he forget some) is Chinese! I know why I forgot, I was so amazed that a Western person could learn Chinese that my memory decided to bury this troublesome fact. There is even a colloquial expression in Russian: "Chinese writings" (not a good translation, the Russian word means both "writing" and "literacy") which means very difficult text.
    Mapraputa Is
    Leverager of our synergies
    Sheriff

    Joined: Aug 26, 2000
    Posts: 10065
    I had to spit my post, because I exceeded UBB's "8 smiles per post limit".
    About students, I do not know how it works in Germany, here in the USA I took classes "English as a Second Language" in local community college. It helped me very much, because I could talk to other students for whom English wasn't native language either, so we weren't embarrassed to make mistakes. And it's not only mistakes... There certainly is a language barrier between native and non-native speakers, one side is always at disadvantage and it makes communication frustrating for both sides. Talking with non-native speakers is just pure fun. I was afraid that this way we would exchange broken English, but the benefits overweight all possible problems. You can always polish your language later, and if you have a several non-native speakers, aberrations seem cancel each other.
    I would advise to try to find students for whom German is not native language and with whom you can use neither Chinese nor English. Maybe even those Russian students you talked about -- but do not let them get you drunk every time
    (kidding. A daughter of my former coworker is now studying in Germany, and she has been learning English all her life! She never studied German, I wonder how she is doing)
    Hope we do not distract you from your studies too much... I plagiarized your signature
    --------------------
    If I had had more time, I could have written you a shorter letter. -- Blaise Pascal
    Frank Carver
    Sheriff

    Joined: Jan 07, 1999
    Posts: 6920
    Map wrote: But it also makes our mental models rigid by imposing certain set of categories
    I agree, but working from that premise, surely my point still applies. The larger the set of concepts ("keys") to which we can aggregate information, the more fine-grained, and thus the more flexible, knowledge can be.
    I don't know if you have them wherever you are, but here Lego bricks come in three basic sizes "Lego" (standard size), "Duplo" (one hole fits to four standard dots), and "Primo" (one hole fits to four Duplo dots). The models I ( err.. my children ) can make with the "standard" Lego are more precise, more elegant and more varied than the cumbersome ones made from the larger bricks.
    Tim Perkuhn
    Greenhorn

    Joined: Jan 31, 2003
    Posts: 17
    Grammar was never easy to me. I did not understand the theortical baground about it. Well, i can use it ad hoc, but if i want to explain why something is like this or like that, i struck.
    Now i want to know if there is a Backus Naur Form of english, german,russian etc. I am sure i could understand that.
    [ February 11, 2003: Message edited by: Tim Perkuhn ]
     
    I agree. Here's the link: http://aspose.com/file-tools
     
    subject: vocabulary