16 lutego 2011

Dictionary Discoveries

Tonight while riding the #24 home to Grochów, I, like many others on the tram, was playing with my cellphone. That's 'mobile' to you international English speakers. I have a great Polish/English dictionary in my phone that I use many times a day. While trying to compose a text message in Polish, I was looking hopelessly for the 'copy and paste' feature in the dictionary - a sorely lacking feature. Trying to flip back and forth between an SMS and the dictionary page displaying 'food.' It's hard to remember how to spell 'żywność,' which didn't seem to me to be the correct word for food. My wife tells me that the word I was looking for was 'jedzenie.' Of course. Apparently 'żywność' is too scientific, and 'pokarm' is a little too biological in meaning. Great, now how do I remember that?

While searching for the copy and paste feature, I stumbled across 'history.' Low and behold my dictionary has, unbeknownst to me, been collecting my search history and building a list of words to study! Perfect. It's great to have a dictionary at your fingertips but when it is that easy to find the right word, sometimes it is a little difficult to remember.

Without further delay, I present you with the list of my last 48 dictionary searches in Polish or English, in reverse chronological order:
  1. food
  2. meldunek
  3. przyszłość
  4. airmail
  5. pillowcase
  6. single
  7. good
  8. help
  9. patience
  10. odbierać
  11. czegoś
  12. anything
  13. something
  14. płyn
  15. bleach
  16. comfortable
  17. wide
  18. shiny
  19. makler
  20. walk
  21. ratusz
  22. change
  23. ring
  24. forget
  25. celny
  26. służba
  27. graniczny
  28. młodzież
  29. march
  30. March
  31. galop
  32. dopiero
  33. begin
  34. when
  35. try
  36. salmon
  37. happy
  38. ławka
  39. orchid
  40. stoic
  41. zboczony
  42. zbocze
  43. spleen
  44. stukot
  45. żal
  46. grudzień
  47. obowiązujący
  48. loyal
This is a fantastic resource; It is the perfect list of the words I needed in the real world. Moreover, I certainly don't remember all of them, so it is a great study list. Of 48 words, I only just now remember the translation or meaning for 18 of them.

Now for the fun part - I can remember what I was doing when I was looking up most of these words! I seem to come back to this idea again and again - finding a way to make each small lesson memorable in some way can be the key to putting it into long term memory. I find any tactic useful that helps hold something in short term memory long enough so I can use it enough times for it to settle into a more permanent place.

Now, on with the word list, and where applicable, a note on why the word was relevant in my day:
  1. food: riding home on the tram tonight, hungry
  2. meldunek: waiting in the urząd for my new zameldowanie
  3. przyszłość:
  4. airmail: mailing a letter home to Canada. We found out the hard way that letters can take months when sent by regular mail. A letter we mailed to Australia on September 27 finally arrived in Sydney LAST WEEK!
  5. pillowcase: shopping for pillowcases
  6. single: thinking about espresso: 'pojedyńcze czy podwójne?'
  7. good: likely a good dog in the street
  8. help: wondering if a bleeding man near my apartment needed help
  9. patience: thanking the optical shop sales clerk for helping me in Polish
  10. odbierać: picking up my new glasses
  11. czegoś: shopping for glasses
  12. anything: looking for glasses
  13. something: looking for glasses
  14. płyn: reading labels in the shop, looking for denatured alcohol
  15. bleach: more labels, still looking for denatured alcohol
  16. comfortable: glasses shopping
  17. wide: glasses . . .
  18. shiny: you guessed it . . .
  19. makler: a student was looking for this word in a lesson
  20. walk
  21. ratusz: getting off the metro at Ratusz Arsenał
  22. change
  23. ring
  24. forget: returning something my brother 'borrowed' from a restaurant
  25. celny: in the airport reading a worker's jacket crest
  26. służba: in the airport, reading same jacket crest
  27. graniczny: still at the airport . . .
  28. młodzież: talking about Polish sail training ships
  29. march
  30. March
  31. galop: talking (rather, listening) about horses with my wife?
  32. dopiero: listening to TOK FM on the tram
  33. begin
  34. when
  35. try
  36. salmon: buying a salad at Cafe Colombia on Nowy Świat
  37. happy
  38. ławka: sitting on a bench with friends in Łazienki Park
  39. orchid: buying orchid mix on Waszyngtona
  40. stoic
  41. zboczony: no idea what I was looking for!
  42. zbocze
  43. spleen
  44. stukot: talking about workplace noises with a student
  45. żal
  46. grudzień
  47. obowiązujący
  48. loyal
I'll be revisiting this topic, and checking in with more vocabulary lists. I'll have to quiz myself with these words. My dictionary also has a 'learning' feature, where it will provide either a random word, or a 'word of the day.' I discover enough words each day that I don't see the use of this feature for now.

Quiz yourself - how many of these words do you know? I'll post the translations/answers in my next post.

What were the last 5 Polish or English words you learned? To my students reading this, extra points for adding your comments below!

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