Interactive English: Reception

Reading and Listening

Guessing Meaning

on April 21, 2015

In the next class we will practice the skill of guessing meaning. This will help you use the dictionary less and enjoy reading in foreign languages more. Please choose ONE of the questions below and answer it in the comments.

a. Please explain some of the skills or “tricks” you use to guess difficult words or understand text (besides using a dictionary).

b. Look at the following nonsensical sentence and do your best guess the meaning of one of the words in bold (say the sentence out loud and try to “feel” the meaning): ‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves did gyre and gimble in the wabe: all mimsy were the borogroves and the mome graths outgrabe.

Remember to do your reading and questions for “Londres”. You can listen to the music HERE while you read the lyrics.

Also, this week start looking for something to use for the “Reading and Questions” that is due after Golden Week.



26 responses to “Guessing Meaning

  1. Emi Tanaka(T4) says:

    When I find a difficult word,I try to divide the word into syllables that help me to guess the meaning from a prefix or suffix(e.g. pro- means “before” and -cal implies “about”.)
    Etymology is also the key factor to understand the meaning.
    I usually skip a difficult word,especially an adverd,in case of reading a long and complicated essay, then after skimming it, think the meaning carefully with the context.

  2. Yuka Hattori(T4) says:

    When I guess meanings of words or contexts, I try to find some important sentences of a text. This is because even if I can not understand whole the text, I can grasp the meaning roughly by understanding some indispendable points.
    In addition, when I encountered words I don’t know the meanings, I manage to find similar meaning words by looking composition of texts. I can guess words’ meaning when I gather enough information.
    That is my ways to guess meaning of words or contexts.

  3. Takuto Kase(T4) says:

    I chose the former question.
    When I encounter difficult words which I don’t know,I guess the means by 2 methods as a whole.
    1.First,ignore the words and go on reading.
    Second,back to the words and guess the means again (from a whole writing or paragraph).
    2.Analyze parts of the words.
    Example:prehistoric➡pre +historic

  4. Ichiyo Shimizu says:

    I am answering question a.
    First thing I do when I encounter difficult words is to guess from the context.
    If I don’t still understand the meanings, I ignore the words and finish reading.
    Afterwards, I read again from the start and I can make a good guess because I know the conclusion of the text.

  5. keisuke koyama says:

    I chose the question a.
    Looking back upon the times I find some difficult words,I probably guess the meanings of them in two ways at the same time.
    First of all,whenever I try to figure out them, I take attention to the prefix and the suffix.In most cases they help me make them out.
    In addition to that, I look over the page on which words I do not know are and some pages around them ,and I generally understand the meanings easily.I am sure that this is good way to predict them.I can grasp them pretty much even if I don’t quite know them .

  6. Rika Morofuji(T4) says:

    I would like to answer question a.

    I think the strategy of guessing meaning of strange words is to analyze from words around. Reading the context well sometimes leads you to understanding.
    Separating words is also effective. If you think the word partly and find some hints, such as “anti”, “in”, and so on, this will help you.

  7. reina inoue T4 says:

    I’ll answer question a.
    When I find an ankown word, I separate the word into some small parts. For example, small parts are “con”,”tion”,”ment” and so on… These small words have their own meanings. So I put those meaning together and think about the word. Another way to guess words meanings is to find similer words. This is little bit difficult… but sometimes very useful to guess words meanings. if you do not know “contribution”, you can think about “contribute”.

  8. Akari Yamada (T4) says:

    I chose question a.
    I always ignore the word at first when I met the word which I don’t know. However, I try to understand what the author want to tell and find the word which is used similarly to the difficult word while I read the sentence. By this I can easily guess the meaning of the word because I know the point of the sentence. I think this is the best way to guess the meaning of the word.

  9. Chikako Tsuge(T4) says:

    I would like to answer to question a.
    When I read any articles that have some difficult words, I always keep in mind to skip these words and think about the meaning by reading the whole context. I think this strategy is quite useful, because usually I can get the meaning almost correctly. (Sometimes not…)

  10. Annie(T4) says:

    Hi, Matt! I’m Annie in T4.
    I’d like to share some of the skills which I use to guess difficult words with you. When I encounter a new word in an article, the first thing I usually do is to identify its word class. It can be known by analyzing the structure of the sentence, but when there’s no complete sentence, the better way is to concentrate on the word itself. Like many other languages, English has a regular pattern of word-building. Such as add “er” after a verb to make it a noun and add “ize/ise” after a noun to make it a verb. If we can find out these typical parts in the word, it will be easy to judge its word class. Secondly, I will try to figure out the root of the word. This is not an easy job and sometimes needs a bit of luck (The first step may be of some help). But once you succeed, you’ll be close to the real meaning of the word. The last thing I’ll do is to confirm my guess about the word—-to read the context again and see whether it fits the logic of the whole article.

    *Here’re some common features of English word-building.
    -er/or/ist: person noun e.g. teacher, actor, scientist
    -ion: nouns describing action or state e.g. hesitation, competition
    -ness: nouns describing quality, state or character e.g. dryness, blindness
    -ism: nouns e.g. criticism, heroism, racism, alcoholism
    -age: nouns e.g. breakage, baggage, postage
    -ize/ise: verbs e.g. privatize, criticize
    -ify/fy: verbs (to make or become) e.g. purify, solidify
    -en: verbs/adjectives e.g. blacken, wooden
    -ate: verbs/adjectives (sometimes nouns) e.g. activate, passionate
    -ed: adjectives/past tense and past participle e.g. talented, bearded
    -less: adjectives e.g. meaningless, selfless
    -ish: adjectives e.g. Irish, childish, thirtyish
    -ous: adjectives (having the nature or quality of) e.g. poisonous, mountainous
    -al: adjectives/nouns e.g. personal, survival
    -y/ey: adjectives/nouns e.g. dusty, sticky, inquiry
    -ic/ical: adjectives (sometimes nouns) e.g. economic, physical (Arabic n./adj.)
    -ly: adverbs/adjectives e.g. happily, cowardly, daily

  11. Minami Shimoura(T4) says:

    I answer “a” question.
    When I find an unknown word in my textbook, at first, I ignore it. When I finish reading at the end, I back to it and think. Thinking about the main point of its sentence, I guess its meaning. But, the case I cannot understand its meaning, I think about the origin of the word. Compared with words that I know its meaning, I try to guess its meaning.
    If I cannot understand it in spite of all my efforts mentioned, I’ll give up…

  12. Ling(T4) says:

    I would like to answer question ‘b’.I will try my best to “feel” the meaning of it.
    Twas brillig, and the slithy toves did gyre and gimble in the wabe: all mimsy were the borogroves and the mome graths outgrabe.
    Firstly,I read the whole sentence and try making an entire feeling.—–(the reaction after read it)(⊙_⊙) oh my god,what’s this!alien language?
    Then,I felt the words one by one.——(┬_┬)Help!The word I know was:and,the,did,in,all were.
    Finally,I awoke all of my sense to feel it.——(⊙﹏⊙) Personal idea,don’t care about right or wrong.
    slithy—-single one
    borogroves—-necessary parts
    So maybe this sentence can be translated as—–people around This item was done well,and every single one did achievement and contribution in their own domain:all people were the necessary parts and they just did their best.
    That’s all,thank you.( ̄▽ ̄)

  13. T4 Yuki Yokomizo says:

    Hello, Matt! I’m Yuki.
    In fact, when I find words which I don’t know, I tend to stop reading the sentences.
    I prefer translating word for word to reading sentences roughly,so I often use my dictionary as soon as I encounter an unknown word.
    However, when I was a high school student, I changed how to read sentences because I had difficulty reading passages rapidly in order to finish the test within the limited time.
    The way is that I never read back again and again. By that way, I came to read passages more concentratedly, so I learned to understand the meaning by the block of words. In short, I often understand meanings by contexts.
    But, unfortunately, I can’t understand the above-mentioned sentences at all, so I’ll give up.
    Sorry, Matt… Thank you.

  14. Ayumi Nakahara(T4) says:

    I would like to answer question ‘a’.

    When I face a difficult word, I am going to divide that word and find prefix or suffix at first. These two enable me to guess the meaning of words. However, this method is often useless. In this case, I try to understand the meaning of the word from the context or subject of the text.

  15. Mika Osada(T4) says:

    When I meet the words I do not know, I read the sentence two or three times which includes the words. Sometimes, just doing so makes it possible to guess the meaning of words. However, I do not always understand. In this case, I go on reading to the end of the passage. When I still do not get the meaning, I reread the all passage which includes the words. In most cases, I can guess the meaning of words with the context before and after the words.

  16. Hi, Matt!
    I’m Kenji (in T4).
    I would like to response the question b with the word “mimsy
    ” and made myself “feel” the sentence as long as I could.

    Lauding the word, I felt the sound of this word was so……kawaii, like titillative. Then I found the word a noun and meaning kind of abstract thing. At last, I devoted the word into two part, “mim” and “sy”. The former part looks related to “pantomime
    “ and the latter sounds a kind of such preposition as “like” or besic part of words like “-ac” and “-ish”. To conclude it, This word “mimsy” means “funny like pantomime”. Case Closed. Thanks.

  17. Rio Sato says:

    I chose the question “a”.
    When I guess some difficult words, I usually use two ways.
    The first way is reading some sentences which include the difficult word and which are befor and after the word. It helps me to grasp the theme and contents of the text. Then I can understand easier what kind of meaning the word has.
    The second way is paying attention to the form of the difficult word. For example, if the word finish “-ate”, I can think that it may be adjective and it qualify a noun. I think that understanding the part of speech is very easy, so this way is so useful.

  18. Miki Kashiwa says:

    I chose question “a”.

    When I find a word which I don’t know the meaning, I usually divide the word into small parts and try to guess the meaning.
    However, sometimes it doesn’t go well. For example,”elicit” we guess the meaning in our last class was difficult for me to separate. In such case, I skip the word. After reading whole sentences, I go back to the word and guess the meaning with the content of the writing.

    Thank you.

  19. Niu Xiuzhong(T4) says:

    When I read an article,if I encounter a strange word,at first I will skip it and continue to read the whole text.The understand of the whole article,as well as the relations between the sentence before the word and the sentence behind the word will give me a hint to guess the meaning of the word.
    Well,sometimes it doesnot very useful.At that times,I will try other methods.Taking apart a word into several parts is helpful.Guess what a word means by looking at the suffix,prefix or rootof the word to find clues.
    And increasing our vocabulary could give us more experience to guess meanings of words.

  20. Aiko Narasaki (T4) says:

    When I’m faced with unknown words, I try to skip those and read around.
    I think it’s not so important to understand all the words when you get the overall impression (especially ajective).
    If you don’t know the verve, it’s difficult to skip that. But, you must read around. What noun or ajective comes next? Or what does the previous sentense mean? Those will help you guessing the meaning.

  21. Atsushi Igarashi(T4) says:

    When I run into unknown word, I don’t try to understand it. After reading the hole sentense or the paragraph which includes the word, I guess the meaning from the context. However, if I can understand what the sentence wants to tell us, I don’t try to understand all the words. Most imprtant thing is not to read all words carefully like studying in high school.

  22. Ayaka Kishino(T4) says:

    I choose question a.
    My vocabulary is poor and I often encounter unknown words.When I guess the meaning of unknown word,I firstly try to recall another word which resembles the word because difficult words often consist of some parts and the parts’ each meaning helps you to know the meaning of them.
    For example, once I did’nt know the meaning of assimilation,but a familiar word “similar “resembled it,and I knew the effect of the prefix “as.”So I could guess the meaning.
    If I can’t guess with this way,secondly,I
    go on reading sentences. That doesn’t mean that I ignore the unknown word.
    The context is actually a very useful clue to judge the meaning of it.

  23. T4 Yuko Tanaka says:

    When l guess the meaning of words or sentences, I often think about prefix and suffix.
    A word is made of some parts. So if you consider each part of the word, you may find the meaning of it.
    I also think the meaning of words by considering the meaning of the sentence.

  24. Keishu Joi(T4) says:

    I choose the question “a”.

    When I guess difficult words, I usually think the contexts.
    The contexts show me what the author say.

    Furthermore, I divide the difficult word into more than two parts and think the meaning of each part. For example, “exterminate” can be parted into “ex” and ” terminate”. “Ex” means ” completely” and ” terminate” means ” finish”.
    That is the way I guess .

    I’m looking forward to learning the skill of guessing difficult words in the next class.

  25. Nishibori Hibiki(T4) says:

    When I encounter unknown words, first, I read some sentences or paragraphs near the words and think whether the words have a positive image or a negative image. Secondly I read the sentences carefully and consider a crude direction of the meaning. Finally I read only the sentence which include the words again and guess the meaning.

  26. Natsumi Mizumura (T4) says:

    I choose the former question.

    When I encounter words or sentences I don’t know meanings, first, I continue to read archive. Because I think continuing reading help me to grasp whole theme of the text. So second,I return to the place and guess meaning of words or sentences, I try to divide words or sentences. And I try to think meaning.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: