Sunday, March 26, 2006

Do you know this word? Really know it?

I read recently that a good way to improve your memory is to pay more attention to details. Apparently, we go through life not really noticing things and that's why we can never remember what someone was wearing, or where we put our keys, or even what we were talking about 3 minutes ago.
The same could be said for learning words. When we encounter a new word, we briefly think about it then move on to the next thing we want to say. After a couple of minutes, we have already forgotten the word. If you are taking notes during a class, here is good way to review your notes so you can better retain a word. OK, you can look at each new word one after the other in the desperate hope of remembering them in the future, but I think it would be better to look at just a few words in much greater detail.

Let's take the word "book". A simple word that you all know. Did you know that the word comes from the German word for "beech", which is a tree from which tablets were made to write on? What other ways can we use the word book? It's also a verb, "to book", meaning "to reserve" - a hotel, a train ticket etc. When we say "the plane was overbooked", it means that the airline sold more seats than there actually are on the plane to be sure that the plane is full when it leaves. In French, we now say "surbooké", and now you know why.

"Book" as a noun also means "a ledger", or a book where financial records are kept. This has given us the expression, "to cook the books" which means that the financial records have been changed dishonestly to make things look better than they really are.

What about someone who reads a lot? We call them "bookworms". The man who takes your money at the horseraces if you want to bet on a horse? He's a bookmaker. Someone who keeps the financial records? She's a book-keeper.

Now you have begun to really know the word. Do this with just one word every day and you will understand a lot more of what you read or hear in English.

I've discovered a marvellous interactive dictionary that will help you to improve your vocabulary. It's called the Visual Thesaurus and I highly recommend that you try it out today!

1 comment:

MacGyver13 said...

Hi Jonathan
Ok, I'm ...late as usual, but i did it, i mean, i tried the Visual Thesaurus out , and it's ..amazing ! it looks like the mind-maps you suggested us to make .I was already fond of those, they're more than useful, it's the only was i found to memorize all the english stuff.
I'm using a text(and free)version of a thesaurus website on a regular basis(thesaurus.reference.com) when i need help to understand english words,(when they are not used in the usual way), i don't like dictionnaries ,they are too limited...and narrow
So your hints are useful, as usual ,thank you ....
Mc