Flashcards/wordlists and words that have many meanings

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pinkyslippers
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Flashcards/wordlists and words that have many meanings

Postby pinkyslippers » Mon Jun 14, 2021 10:45 am

Sorry I am not too sure of the proper linguistic term (homograph? :oops: ). I'm adding vocabulary to my Anki deck using cloze deletion sentences and if I come upon a new word when reading or listening I add an example sentence to my deck. I'm just wondering how other people approach it when you look up a word and it has several different meanings? I suppose I am thinking of a word like quedar in Spanish, for example. Do you just add a card/note for the context that you came across or do you add all the different meanings of that word (assuming that you don't already know them, that is)?

At the moment I am only adding the word in the context I came across it, and trust that I will come across the other meanings at some point sooner or later, but I am interested to know what others do.

Thanks
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Re: Flashcards/wordlists and words that have many meanings

Postby Dragon27 » Mon Jun 14, 2021 10:55 am

pinkyslippers wrote:Sorry I am not too sure of the proper linguistic term (homograph? :oops: ).

Polysemous words.
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pinkyslippers
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Re: Flashcards/wordlists and words that have many meanings

Postby pinkyslippers » Mon Jun 14, 2021 11:03 am

Thanks! :)
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Re: Flashcards/wordlists and words that have many meanings

Postby Beli Tsar » Mon Jun 14, 2021 1:12 pm

pinkyslippers wrote: I'm just wondering how other people approach it when you look up a word and it has several different meanings? I suppose I am thinking of a word like quedar in Spanish, for example. Do you just add a card/note for the context that you came across or do you add all the different meanings of that word (assuming that you don't already know them, that is)?
Thanks

I'd also be interested in hearing what others do. As time goes on, I'm growing to think this is less of a problem than it seems, because once you have learned one meaning of a word, it's much easier to learn the others. You already have a 'hook' to attach the meaning to, so there's not too much reason to worry about it. And that's a lot of the point of flashcards - learn a quick, easy gloss, probably inadequate, but enough to help you recognise the word in context. It's the actual input that helps you learn the meaning of the word properly and deeply (plus the occasional dictionary consultation when needed). But this would not happen anywhere near as fast or for as many words without the flashcards. So I'm not sure how much we need to worry about perfection in flashcards.

That said, my main approach is to make a card to which the answer is a simple, unambiguous gloss - usually the most common or relevant meaning, in keeping with the minimum information principle. That makes it easy to learn. But I put a range of other glosses or definitions below this, whether just below the answer or in a 'notes' section. I think this an advantage of Anki etc. - you can paste a longer definition that doesn't work on goldlists etc., even if you won't use it every time. Generally I find that I do slowly absorb these other meanings - at the very least, they exist as a prompt to remind me that the one-word gloss is inadequate for the word.

This works well for a lot of verbs and nouns, but some words just don't map so nicely onto English glosses, or you need to be more aware of the range of meanings. For instance, I've just been working on the Latin word 'quam', which can mean 'as', 'than', 'how' and so on. In this case, I created three cards, each with a sentence, and asked myself what gloss would be appropriate for 'quam' in each context. Of course, with a word like this, half the point is that no gloss is adequate, but this approach seems to get the basic idea in to begin with. I do this when I need to - awkwardwords, in other words, ones that are likely to trip me up in reading.

But again, I'd be curious about what others do.
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Re: Flashcards/wordlists and words that have many meanings

Postby smallwhite » Mon Jun 14, 2021 1:18 pm

pinkyslippers wrote:At the moment I am only adding the word in the context I came across it

I do L2->L1 single word (sometimes phrase) cards. I only add the word in the current context. But when I look up the word to create the card, I look at the other definitions as well. (Because I simply have to in order to pick the correct definition, but it makes for interesting and relevant reading as well). (Everyone loves reading dictionaries, right?)
pinkyslippers wrote:and trust that I will come across the other meanings at some point sooner or later

Not because I trust that I will come across the other meanings at some point sooner or later, I'm not trying to create cards for every single word in my L2, but because I may not ever come across or need those other meanings.
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Re: Flashcards/wordlists and words that have many meanings

Postby pinkyslippers » Mon Jun 14, 2021 1:25 pm

smallwhite wrote: Not because I trust that I will come across the other meanings at some point sooner or later, I'm not trying to create cards for every single word in my L2, but because I may not ever come across or need those other meanings.


Yes, good point, thank you. I suppose that is what I meant to say - I trust that if I need to know it, I will come across it again at some point, otherwise I can forget about it :)
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Re: Flashcards/wordlists and words that have many meanings

Postby Iversen » Mon Jun 14, 2021 3:04 pm

I mostly go for one central meaning first and then expect to add the derived meanings later. However If a word has two or more clearly separate meanings I may choose to learn them both, but again derived meanings can wait.
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Re: Flashcards/wordlists and words that have many meanings

Postby kelvin921019 » Tue Jun 15, 2021 12:06 pm

I create multiple cards for different meanings of the same word (I do L1 -> TL cards).
I aim to test on my ability to present different concepts / ideas using the TL so it doesn't matter if the same TL word appears in more than 1 card.
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Re: Flashcards/wordlists and words that have many meanings

Postby RawToast » Sat Jun 19, 2021 2:27 am

I used to do sentence cards and would try to cover one of two meanings. Japanese is full of words with many meanings, like 掛かる which has 14 meanings according to one online dictionary... So I'd have 1/2 cards specifically for that word and as the word is quite common, the other meanings would eventually appear in other sentences.

Once you know one/two meanings -- so you know the word has multiple -- reading seems to do the trick for any additional meanings.

I moved on to single word cards and would just add multiple meanings, but only test myself on the first. At least I am getting some exposure to the alternatives.
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