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Old 08-21-2010, 06:01 PM   #1
pdurrant
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Do you read and understand every word?

I've been spending some time recently preparing editions of Kidnapped and Catriona by Robert Louis Stevenson.

I've finished the tedious but necessary task of cleaning up the text, getting as close to what it should be as I can, given the number of minor variations that there are in the text in different editions.

I'm not going through the text, adding in extra glossary entries for Scots and other unusual words.

I had thought I knew the text of the books quite well, but I've been surprised at how many words I've just glided over in the past, getting some vague notion of their meaning from context, but not really knowing them at all. Mostly my lack of knowledge is unimportant to the story, but sometimes, knowing the meaning, or the exact meaning, does make a significant difference.

Some examples - did you know that in the mid 1700s a ‘capuchin’ was a short cloak worn by ladies, that didn't reach below the elbows? Or that a ‘negligee’ was a long evening dress with trailing folds? Or that your oxters are your arm-pits?

I didn't.

I wonder how many of you are like me, and blithly pass over unfamiliar words in a story, guessing their meaning from context as you go?

And I wonder how many of you actually go and look such words up when they come across them?
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Old 08-21-2010, 06:41 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pdurrant View Post

Some examples - did you know that in the mid 1700s a ‘capuchin’ was a short cloak worn by ladies, that didn't reach below the elbows?
No-- a scene describing someone wearing a capuchin would have led me to a vision of women draped in small monkeys.
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Old 08-21-2010, 06:46 PM   #3
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I have to admit, I am bad at skipping over words if I don't know their exact meaning.

However, I have stopped reading to go look up a word. The one I remember most (because I love the word and subsequent phrasing) was when I came across the phrase "black serendipity" in Stephen King's novella Apt Pupil. According to Wikipedia, serendipity means "a propensity for making fortunate discoveries while looking for something unrelated." Having King tie the word black to the word serendipity was, to me, awesome phrasing - with just two words. You'd have to have read the book to get it - but that phrase still impresses me. It is (was?) so apropos to what was happening in that story.

But that doesn't happen often (stopping to look up a word). I do skip words - and sometimes don't realize that I have, actually. I guess because usually the word is hidden so well within the story (and you can glean the meaning from the context), that it doesn't stick out.

Huh. Now I'll have to remember to try to pay more attention...

Marilyn
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Old 08-21-2010, 06:46 PM   #4
DixieGal
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Gloss. Cherry flavored gloss. If I can work it out from the context, I'm satisfied.
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Old 08-21-2010, 07:33 PM   #5
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I've always kind of just taken the word within the context of the story and assumed I knew what it meant. I never pick up a dictionary to look up a word. Since I got a kindle, though, I've had a lot of fun looking up those odd words. It makes it really easy, and I've improved my vocabulary a bit. :-)
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Old 08-21-2010, 07:46 PM   #6
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My jetBook Lite came with a dictionary, and every time I came across a word that I wasn't sure of the meaning, which was often, I would look it up. Unfortunately, the JBL's dictionary had only 10% of the words. The dictionary might be helpful for someone learning the English language but not for a native speaker.

Ironically, the books that I am referring to were ones that came free with the device. That's right, they included for free a dictionary which did not have the words of the books they included for free!
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Old 08-21-2010, 07:47 PM   #7
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I too have been stopping and reading definitions more now - since the Kindle's dictionary on the bottom of the page makes it so easy. Before, I'm afraid I used to glide on, guessing from the context.
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Old 08-21-2010, 08:33 PM   #8
DixieGal
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Oh ys, I forgot. The dict on the kindle for iPad is cute. I do catch myself looking up words just to play with it.
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Old 08-22-2010, 01:01 AM   #9
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I am bad at looking up words. I am not a native English speaker but I am too lazy to look up word when I am reading. Like Betty, I kind of skip the word and assume from the context. If I still don't get it I just reread it. Probably take less time to look up than reread. haha
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Old 08-22-2010, 01:39 AM   #10
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I have always had a dictionary and thesaurus on hand while reading, in case I come across an unfamiliar word.
I have found, however, that I need them less now.
Thanks in part to the lowered standard of popular literature.
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Old 08-22-2010, 02:06 AM   #11
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I try to always look up a word when reading, although it use to take me a while to figure out a word from the definition. I sometimes still spend a lot of time looking up the words in the definition.

Even though, I could guess a word meaning from the context, now what I do is stop and go look up the words on the internet, as it will pronounce most words also.
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Old 08-22-2010, 02:12 AM   #12
FizzyWater
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Quote:
Originally Posted by poohbear_nc View Post
I too have been stopping and reading definitions more now - since the Kindle's dictionary on the bottom of the page makes it so easy. Before, I'm afraid I used to glide on, guessing from the context.
I pretty much was going to say the same thing, but it's since I got my PRS600.

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Old 08-22-2010, 02:33 AM   #13
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I've looked-up words the author invented. So gullible am I.

I just had to dig out a dictionary for a book I recently read. There were too many words I was skipping over.

simoon
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Old 08-22-2010, 02:40 AM   #14
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I have a decent vocabulary, and donʻt often run across words I donʻt know (but Iʻm also usually reading topics in which I have a degree of understanding, and my fiction is not overtly literary, as a whole). As a result, if I have a dictionary conveniently available, Iʻll do as I expect my students to do: hypothesize the meaning of the word from context, then verify (or disprove) my hypothesis by looking up the word. If a dictionary is not readily available, I will generally save the verification step for later....
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Old 08-22-2010, 05:08 AM   #15
lene1949
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English is my second language, and any word I don't understand I look up... If there's no translation, I use my own according to the text.
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