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blackcat
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29 Nov 2009, 12:25 am

When I was a kid, from about age three to age eight, I would often think and speak using words that were considered "advanced" for my age. I would often have these moments in the middle of a thought or sentence where I suddenly stopped and wondered "Why do I know what that means? Have I ever heard that word before? Did I read it?" and, for some reason, not knowing why I knew a word made me very nervous. I also wondered why I understood new words. Like...if it was my first time hearing or seeing a word, I would usually already have a pretty accurate idea of it's definition.

Has anyone else had any similar experiences?


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FaithHopeCheese
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29 Nov 2009, 12:31 am

Sometimes I surprise myself with the words that I understand, but I think it just comes from reading a lot.


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sinsboldly
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29 Nov 2009, 12:38 am

I think a lot of it was context, too.

I also can do it the other way, where I can type or think about a known word, that I know what it means but say it over and over and it loses all meaning.


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VampireGirl
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29 Nov 2009, 2:45 am

Yeah I've always been able to do that. When I was in second grade I had the second highest vocabulary in the whole school(full of kindergartners to 5th or 6th grade) and no one was quite sure how I just knew some words. It's a mystery. It still happens to this day, but with perfectly good explanation, I read quite a bit(I've even read a thesaurus) and if I come to a word I don't know I look it up, or take it apart and define the pieces.


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kip
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29 Nov 2009, 3:50 am

In the first grade, I was reading at a college grad's level. That led to quite a few parent teacher convos. Weird thing, Dad only read me these cheesy kid Minnie Mouse and friends books, and Dr. Seuss. So yea, I was able to read, understand, and formulate a sentence for words that I ought not know until now, 16 years ago. Fun times.

I think it may have had something to do with being around adults a lot as a kid. Mum and Dad didn't know any other parents until after my sister was born, so I spent all my time with grown people listening to people talk just how they always do, none of that baby talk crap. I did the same thing with my brother, and he knows the meaning of stupendous, gargantuan, and a few other words. Caint read them, but he's 4.5 years old. So not to shabby.


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spooky13
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29 Nov 2009, 6:58 am

So, I'm not the only one! :D I read at two and I still find it strange that when I read things or hear about something, it just "clicks" and I get it.


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29 Nov 2009, 7:03 am

The 'feeling for words' sounds similar. I think it is because I read a lot and couple parts of words to known words. Context helps also. When reading a foreign language only a part of the sentence has to be clear for me to get the general meaning.



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29 Nov 2009, 7:48 am

Yes. I think part of it is understanding a new word on context. Picking up words can happen like that, too. You might see or hear a word once, figure out the meaning based on context, and then it's part of your vocabulary.

It can be unsettling to have no idea where you learned something, but most people learn so much stuff without actively seeking to (such as "Okay, I'm going to learn how to do ____!") that it's nothing to really worry about. :)



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29 Nov 2009, 8:07 am

sinsboldly wrote:

I also can do it the other way, where I can type or think about a known word, that I know what it means but say it over and over and it loses all meaning.


I love doing that. It drives DH batty, but it is an endless source of amusement for me.



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29 Nov 2009, 8:14 am

I don't know if this is the same thing but I've had the experience of doing a crossword puzzle and having only 1 or 2 letters of an answer. Then a little voice in my head (not literal) will tell me the answer. The thing is I may have seen the word only once before in a book and didn't consciously remember it.



Willard
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29 Nov 2009, 12:23 pm

It is unconscious, and its all about context, not just from what you read, but what you hear as well. Television and radio in the background, ads and unrelated articles in the papers and junk mail, billboards on the roadside - it all goes into the memory bank (while, unfortunately, directional landmarks we may need later often do not).

The fascinating aspect is that we are so poor at picking up on social cues in context, yet we soak up language like a sponge without even being aware of it.



sinsboldly
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29 Nov 2009, 12:32 pm

Context is exactly right but it goes beyond that to a certain knack for synthesis* in general.


*synthesis
a. Reasoning from the general to the particular; logical deduction.
b. The combination of thesis and antithesis in the Hegelian dialectical process whereby a new and higher level of truth is produced.



KenG
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29 Nov 2009, 3:20 pm

blackcat wrote:
Has anyone else had any similar experiences?
I also understood new words, because I could guess their meaning through their context. I never asked myself how come I already knew words that other kids did not know. (I probably heard those words from grown ups, or on TV or on the radio).

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29 Nov 2009, 3:57 pm

I find the strangest bit about my large vocab at a young age to be that I couldn't read until 4th grade. I would struggle with words like "cat" and yet when it came to talking My vocabulary has always been higher then that of peers. When I did learn to read it was strange too I suppose because it consisted of almost instant understanding. I went from not being about to read a word to reading at a high school or college level.


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29 Nov 2009, 5:36 pm

Yes, all my life, but I usually assume that I read it somewhere or overheard it used in conversation.