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Full text of "The Loom Of Language"

CHAPTER  VI
HOW TO LEARN THE BASIC WORD LIST
SOME people complain of poor memory, and attribute to it the diffi-
culties of learning a foreign language If also fond of horticulture or of
natural history, they do not complain about the difficulty of memor-
izing a copious vocabulary of technical terms So a poor memory is
rarely a correct explanation of what holds them back One of the
essential obstacles is that the interest of the beginner is focused exclu-
sively on a remote goal. It is not also directed, like that of the naturalist,
to the matenal itself To learn with least effort we have to become
language-conscious. If The Loom of Language has succeeded in its task
so far the reader who has not studied languages before, and the reader
who has studied them without thinking much about their family traits,
will now be more language-conscious. The four chapters which follow
are for those who are They contain a more detailed treatment of some
of the languages referred to in previous chapters for the benefit of the
home student who may want to start learning to read or to write intel-
ligibly in one or other of them. Any one who intends to give the method
of this book a fair trial must pay careful attention to cross references,
including references to relevant tables in Part I Some practical sug-
gestions which immensely lighten the tedium of traversing the first
few milestones when learning a new language have come from the
work of scholars who have contributed to the international language
movement (see Chapter XI) They have not yet made their way into
current text-books, and the reader who wishes to use The Loom of
Language as an aid to the study of a foreign language should recall
them at this stage
The most important is to concentrate on learning a relatively small
class of words before trying to learn any others This class includes
the particles^ pronouns, pointer words^ and helper verbs There aie
seveial reasons for doing this One is that a battery of about one
hundred and fifty of such words for ready we9 supplemented by a
nodding acquaintance with about a hundred others, includes a very
high proportion of the words we constantly use or constantly meet on
the printed page A second is that what verbs, adjectives, and nouns we
commonly meet, especially the nouns., depends on individual orcum-