Distinguishing between similar EN definitions

Gretchin

秀才
Hi,

I’ve seen lots of posts on here about distinguishing between similar characters but not similar English definitions.

The more I progress, I find batches of words with similar EN meaning. For example, 明白,认识, 知道, 懂。 I have the same with the various forms of “go / direction”. I do know that there are slight variations in each of these words and in context it’s not a problem, but when i’m doing EN - CH tests, and the card says “understand”, for example, how am I supposed to know which it relates to, as that definition appears on multiple cards.

Is there a way to annotate the cards as a reminder, or, dare I say it, change the dictionary definition to be just one word (in the case of the above). What i’m currently doing is trying to memorise which EN card format goes with which CH, which seems inefficient.

Any thoughts welcome, I can’t be the first newbie to encounter this.
 

Shun

状元
Hello Gretchin,

I know this problem; you can work around it by having Pleco display the full English definition, including example sentences, in Flashcards. Under Display, you can set Definition sections to Defn + Exes + Links:

F7C9C9B5-12FD-4E60-B050-24178BEAD3F9.png

If you are taking a Fill-in-the-blanks test and you can't see the entire definition, you can tap on the handwriting input button at the top to disable character entry, which allows you to scroll through the definition. Then tap it again to enter the Chinese expression.

Hope this helps,

Shun
 

Gretchin

秀才
谢谢 Shun. I have done this and it helps a little, although many of the HSK cards don’t have examples with them, only the definition word. For example the “child” card only has it’s quantifier 个 as additional information. I put 孩子 when actually the answer is 小孩. To my newbie mind, these words are the same, and as I said before, I’m now finding myself trying to memorise that the “child” card is 小孩 rather than the general meaning of the words which slightly defeats the purpose?

Is there anyway around this? I wish we could annotate the cards.
 

Shun

状元
不用谢!What the HSK cards show depends on which dictionary's definitions were assigned to them. If you have bought a good dictionary such as the Oxford Chinese Dictionary, or even if you use the free Pleco PLC dictionary for the HSK words, you can assign their definitions to your flashcards, and the problem you are facing should occur only with more advanced words. In the case of 孩子 and 小孩, for example, the latter is more informal and marked as such in many dictionaries.

To reassign your HSK flashcards to a dictionary that defines words in more detail, you can go into Organize Flashcards, enter the HSK categories, tap Edit, select all cards, tap Batch, choose a better dictionary in Remap to dictionary and tap Remap now.

As you become more advanced, you will have to deduce the finer meanings of vocabulary items through extensive reading (or movie watching, etc.), anyway, where you can use contextual information, and remember them that way. You can only get so far with English-Chinese dictionary definitions. (Maybe for the first 10,000 most concrete and basic words, it works fine.) I have run into the same problem a long time ago.

You could of course annotate the cards by converting them to custom cards or user dictionary cards and editing them manually. However, I would advise against going that route, as you'd have to add clues to the cards that don't necessarily have much to do with the actual meanings of the words. There are numerous books that contrast the meanings of Chinese words, so if you have one of those, it may make sense to transfer their contents to Pleco's flashcards.

Hope this helps,

Shun
 
The more I progress, I find batches of words with similar EN meaning. For example, 明白,认识, 知道, 懂。
Hello Gretchin,
For what is worth, one of several ways to learn to differentiate words like those may be a dictionary like this one: A Thematic Dictionary of Contemporary Chinese. In this dictionary, 明白,认识, 知道, 懂 are presented this way:
....................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
....................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
15 懂 dǒng (understand) <v.> understand: 懂英语 understand English || 懂足球 understand soccer || 难懂 hard to understand

16 理解 lǐjiě (reason-understood) <v.> understanding: 互相理解 understand each other || 难以/无法/容易理解 difficult/impossible/easy to understand

17 了解 liǎojiě (understand-understood) <v.> understand: 深入了解 understand deeper || 了解情况 understand the situation

18 明白 míngbái (plain-know) <v.> understand: 明白他的意思 understand what he meant || 心里明白 understand in one’s heart ||明白 道理understand the truth

19 认识 rènshí (recognize-know) <v./n.> know, recognize: 认识那个人know that person || 认识汉字know Chinese characters || 肤浅的认识 superficial understanding

20 掌握 zhǎngwò (in charge-grasp) <v.> grasp: 掌握三门外语master three foreign languages || 掌握新技术 master new technology

21 知道 zhīdào (know-reason) <v.> know: 知道这件事 know that event || 知道出发的时间 know the time to leave || 知道原因 know the reason
....................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
....................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
Have a nice weekend!
 

Gretchin

秀才
不用谢!What the HSK cards show depends on which dictionary's definitions were assigned to them. If you have bought a good dictionary such as the Oxford Chinese Dictionary, or even if you use the free Pleco PLC dictionary for the HSK words, you can assign their definitions to your flashcards, and the problem you are facing should occur only with more advanced words. In the case of 孩子 and 小孩, for example, the latter is more informal and marked as such in many dictionaries.

To reassign your HSK flashcards to a dictionary that defines words in more detail, you can go into Organize Flashcards, enter the HSK categories, tap Edit, select all cards, tap Batch, choose a better dictionary in Remap to dictionary and tap Remap now.

As you become more advanced, you will have to deduce the finer meanings of vocabulary items through extensive reading (or movie watching, etc.), anyway, where you can use contextual information, and remember them that way. You can only get so far with English-Chinese dictionary definitions. (Maybe for the first 10,000 most concrete and basic words, it works fine.) I have run into the same problem a long time ago.

You could of course annotate the cards by converting them to custom cards or user dictionary cards and editing them manually. However, I would advise against going that route, as you'd have to add clues to the cards that don't necessarily have much to do with the actual meanings of the words. There are numerous books that contrast the meanings of Chinese words, so if you have one of those, it may make sense to transfer their contents to Pleco's flashcards.

Hope this helps,

Shun
Hi,

Thankyou again for such a detailed response. Firstly, yes I completely agree about deducing finer meaning, I speak Spanish so completely understand that at some point flashcards are not sufficient but i’m only on HSK2 so I’m a way off that!

I didn’t realise you could make custom cards, I tried it and this seems to work well for one or two. I appreciate your advice on what to add, for now I have just added “not X” because then I know it’s the other form (where there are two that seem similar to me). This should work for the time being, until I get more experienced.

I love this app, and the user support is excellent, thankyou so so much.
 

BenJackson

举人
Another way to handle this is just using the "self graded" mode and making your own rules for accepting an answer. So if you are prompted for "child" you could just try to think of several words that it could be, like 孩子, 小孩,小朋友 and then click "reveal card". If the answer is any of the ones you thought of, you mark it correct. If you didn't think of the one that shows up, mark it wrong. You'll end up being prompted more for the ones you don't think of.
 

Gretchin

秀才
Another way to handle this is just using the "self graded" mode and making your own rules for accepting an answer. So if you are prompted for "child" you could just try to think of several words that it could be, like 孩子, 小孩,小朋友 and then click "reveal card". If the answer is any of the ones you thought of, you mark it correct. If you didn't think of the one that shows up, mark it wrong. You'll end up being prompted more for the ones you don't think of.
Only just seen this reply from Ben, for some reason I didn’t get an email notification, but I LOVE this simple idea. I mostly do fill in the blanks, but with your idea, I could always use the change card score option
 

Weyland

进士
@mikelove, you could probably implement something rudimentary if you used semantic units and part-of-speech tagging. Are the currently tags in place for the vocab (in the background)? So if I search for the semantic unit "animal" I would get all words that had that tag/unit ascribed to them.
 

Gretchin

秀才
@Weyland , I have a degree in Linguistics and your message flooded back a ton of memories that made me smile. It would certainly be interesting to tag the corpora but a ton of work with possibly not that much benefit. For example how do you define what the tags would be.
 

Weyland

进士
@Weyland , I have a degree in Linguistics and your message flooded back a ton of memories that made me smile. It would certainly be interesting to tag the corpora but a ton of work with possibly not that much benefit. For example how do you define what the tags would be.
If such a thing doesn't exist already then nevermind. It wouldn't make sense to tag 100k+ words by hand. Also, I'm merely parroting some words I found in an introduction to Chinese Natural Language Processing. I'm still a greenhorn in both the field of linguistics and data analysis. I'm trying to create a framework to determine whether a text/video/resource/etc. is relevant to someone depending how much overlap there is between the contents of the media and the person's Chinese vocabulary. But, I'm hitting quite a few snags.
 
For example, 明白,认识, 知道, 懂。
This also helps me somehow to distinguish similar words ("You shall know a word by the company it keeps").

明白认识知道
明明白白认识到不知道
明白费认识论才知道
明白人发生认识论哪知道
明白表示认识论网路谁知道
明白了当认识过程天知道
明白如话认识环境想知道
明白事理认识结构
认识科学
才明白认识能力
放明白认识水平
放明白些
看明白再认识
闹明白理性认识
说明白感性认识
听明白
听不明白
肚里明白
说个明白
死不明白
心里明白
争个明白
难明白的
揣着明白说糊涂
不明不白
 

Gretchin

秀才
This also helps me somehow to distinguish similar words ("You shall know a word by the company it keeps").

明白认识知道
明明白白认识到不知道
明白费认识论才知道
明白人发生认识论哪知道
明白表示认识论网路谁知道
明白了当认识过程天知道
明白如话认识环境想知道
明白事理认识结构
认识科学
才明白认识能力
放明白认识水平
放明白些
看明白再认识
闹明白理性认识
说明白感性认识
听明白
听不明白
肚里明白
说个明白
死不明白
心里明白
争个明白
难明白的
揣着明白说糊涂
不明不白
This looks amazing @sobriaebritas , but possibly a bit complex for me right now. I’m sure to come back to it when I know more words.
 
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