Language learning stacks

Mike Bonner bonnmike at
Sun Jul 11 09:38:54 EDT 2010

Yeah, i've messed with several of the online tools translating blocks
of text as well as websites back and forth. In a way it reminds me of
the experiment where you take a group of 5 people, send 4 out of the
room and relate a simple story to the 5th. Then bring in each in turn
so that they can relate the story one person to another till the last
has heard it.  By the time it gets to the 5th retelling it has no
resemblance to the original story. Online translations seem to have
this affect, the more engines you run it through the more off kilter
it gets.

Not quite the theory behind my experiment though. I remember learning
to read as a kid where as in the OP you learn a basic set of words and
learn them well. At which point you read. And read and read some more.
 At some point a boundary is crossed where new words can be learned
(within reason) by context, and the key to further progress is how
much you read.

I'm using the same theory to try and reach a critical reading mass.
Instead of having whole block translations I've been trying to pick
things that are slightly beyond my current reading level. (hard to do
when my level os so low, but strangely enough recipes seem to be a
good fit)  Any time I hit a word or sentence I just can't manage,
click a word here and there to get their google translation, and most
times its close enough to get me over the hump so I can keep reading.
The fewer words I use google for the better off so that hopefully it
becomes easier to pick up idioms and a more natural flow.

However, this is all completely theoretical since at this time. Have
just been making a beginning.

Anyone who reads lots can -grok- this idea.  A word, even made up,
becomes infused with it's context. Just ask Mr Heinlen.

Having said all this?  I'm surely learning that there is a minimum
facility level with the language required for things to work this way,
and i'm not yet up to that level in spanish or any language other than
english.  So the concept of the a first 1000 words is most likely what
I need to cross some learning boundaries.  As it is i have enough
difficulty with my native language!

If nothing else, I recommend using recipes as one point of attack
because there is an implicit context before one even begins to read.
Add in the repeated usage of common food items and cooking concepts
and they're relatively easy to get a handle on.

On Sun, Jul 11, 2010 at 3:51 AM, Lynn Fredricks
<lfredricks at> wrote:
>> I've got a page set up on iGoogle that has various back and
>> forth translators between different languages I know or am
>> interested in.  It's pretty quick and easy, adding a Rev
>> interface wouldn't save me much, I don't think.
> Google's translation isn't a tool I would completely rely on for learning a
> language. It is really, really great though for getting the gist of a piece
> of text when an accurate word-for-word translation isn't that necessary.
> Try doing a translation of pieces of text from English into another
> language, then take that result and then try to re-translate it back into
> English. The results are...sometimes interesting, disturbing - entertaining.
> Best regards,
> Lynn Fredricks
> President
> Paradigma Software
> Valentina SQL Server: The Ultra-fast, Royalty Free Database Server
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