Basic words in a new language

Inge Wallin inge at
Thu Aug 15 18:07:56 UTC 2013

On Wednesday, August 14, 2013 19:29:35 Andreas Cord-Landwehr wrote:
> On Sunday 11 August 2013 19:27:16 Inge Wallin wrote:
> > Ok, thanks.  One thing that I don't remember if I emphasized in my first
> > mail is that this list was supposed to represent a useful subset for
> > somebody who wanted to study a language seriously and continue > 
> > learning more after these words are mastered.
> For this goal the list seems good for me.
> > And rather than have one file with 4000 words, I'd prefer 8 with 500
> each.
> I see this different. As long as we have a good hierarchy in a file, I do
> not see the need to make vocabulary files artificialy small. Actually,
> Parley allows quite easy to select which parts of a vocabulary file you
> want to learn. So we should aim for good structured files and the problem
> is resolved.

In fact it's not.  I'm certain that the computer can handle the larger list.  
I'm also certain that you could structure the words so that you would be able 
to find them even in a very large collection.

But what I am after is the sense of achievement that you would get after 
mastering a smaller list.  This is all about learning and setting milestones. 
>From a personal perspective, I would only get a sense of dread from a list of 
4000 words and more.

I want to be able to *see* that I have mastered an important part of the 
language and get a feeling of achievement and some feeling that I have a 
chance to communicate with the native speakers.  Being able to say "I have now 
learnt the basic 500 words (*phew!*), time to celebrate and start on the next 
500" is much preferrable to "I'm no 1/8th into the list of words that I want 
to learn during the next 3 years".

The small milestones are an important part of learning anything and I want to 
design the course so that the student can easily get this feeling.  But it 
should be big enough that you don't drown in too many files instead of 1000s of 
words in one gigantic list.

> > Thanks for the feedback.  Would you care to suggest an improved
> > structure?
> Essentially, I would rename the "Other" category to "Essential Words",
> rename some of the subcategories and move some other categories as
> subcategories to it. (This also allows in Parly by its tree-selection mode
> for learning to fine grained specify where to start learning).
> My proposal:
> Essential Words (was "Other")
> + Important Verbs (was "Actions" and "Common Verbs")
>     add "do"
>     add "take"
>     add "use"
>     remove "will"
> + Important Adjectives (was in "Descriptions")
> + Question Words (was "Interrogative Words")
> + Conjunctions (was "Interjections")
> + Numbers
> + Colors (was in "Descriptions")
> + Introduction (was "Greetings and polite words")
> + Directions
> + Personal Pronouns
> + Relative Pronouns (new, see last mail)
> + Measurements
> + Time and Dates (was top-level category before)
> + Quantities (new! with words like "often", "seldom", "sometimes")
> Further changes:
> * merge "Leisure" and "Activities"
> * remove Descriptions completely (Colors and Common Adjectives better fit
> in "Essential Words" and Patterns are not basic words for me)

Thanks. I'll think a little more about this before replying to this part.


> Greetings,
> Andreas
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