Context is very powerful

I’ve been teaching myself Spanish for the past six weeks or so, and am at the point where I can read very simple fiction such as the stories in this book, which are designed specifically for beginners, and use only simple, common words and phrases.

Although I don’t know all the words, and am still very confused by the grammar rules, tenses, and all that kind of stuff, it is surprising how easy it is to understand what a sentence as a whole means based on context.聽I find myself reading sentences, guessing at the meanings of words that I don’t know based on the sentence as a whole, and coming up with what I think the sentence means… and being right.聽Of course, sometimes I’m wrong (I always check, anyways) but not very often.

I remember being young and doing this with English words I didn’t know (before google!). If you see a word in context enough times you just learn what it means without anyone telling you, or if not exactly, then you get an aura, or flavor of what it generally means.

I also think that, aside from learning the meanings of words, we can learn all kinds of things just from context. Why did some character say a certain word, or act a certain way? What are a characters motivations or fears? We learn these things by the things that happen around the character. Not by having them explicitly, painfully, detailed for us.

Anyway, I’m having a lot of fun learning. It gives me that little hit of dopamine every time I successfully decipher a sentence, like solving a puzzle. My hope is that, if I can get good enough at it to read actual novels, I will become fluent through osmosis, by just reading and reading, which is how I got good at English, after all.

Then I could read Marquez and Borges in their original text! 馃槷 Life goals!

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Oh my God the dictionary!

I started reading it… and am wondering why I never did this before. It’s like walking through a treasure-filled cavern and snatching up any glinting piece that pulls my eye. So many words! I wish I had a randomized version of the dictionary so that all my new words wouldn’t start with A, but here are a few I never knew, and that I especially like:

ab路at路toir聽 (1820) 聽聽 : SLAUGHTERHOUSE

abe路ce路dar路i路an聽 : one learning the rudiments of something (as the alphabet) abecedarian adj (1665) 聽聽 1 a : of or relating to the alphabet聽 b : alphabetically arranged 聽聽 2 : RUDIMENTARY

abu路lia聽 (ca. 1864) 聽聽 : abnormal lack of ability to act or to make decisions 鈥 abu路lic \-lik\ adj

ace路dia (1607) 聽聽 : APATHY, BOREDOM

And I’m only up to ‘ac’ 馃槷

What other discoveries await me?

Monastery life

I think I could be happy being a monk/scholar/priest, whatever you want to call it. A person who leaves behind ‘life’ in order to devote themselves to the world of the mind/spirit. If I could spend every waking hour studying, reading, learning, teaching, etc, I think I could give up material possessions and all the things involved in ‘real’ life.

This is what the character in ‘the glass bead game’ has done. He is devoting his life to study and learning, and introspection. This sounds very appealing to me. I sometimes think I could be happy if I could just be left to my own interests聽with a safe place to sleep and enough food not to starve.

But… the appeal of all the entertainment and other things I consume daily is strong, and might not be so easy to give up…