Word Clearing (V2)

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Reference: Course on Subject Clearing

When there is confusion in the study materials, the first thing to do is to isolate the area of confusion and check the understanding of the words used to explain that area. Hopefully that would handle the confusion or, at least, narrow it down. This is because

Words and symbols form our basic understanding.

A word can have different definitions and many shades of them. The cause of the confusion is obvious when the definition of a word is not known. The cause, however, is difficult to trace when you know the definition but you don’t know that it is the wrong one. The context of the word may be such that it requires a definition, or a shade of definition, which is different from the one you are using.

It is the tendency of the mind to fill the missing definition by some preconceived projection. Therefore, it is very important to examine the standard definitions of the word. The following procedure helps determine the correct definitions for words in study materials.

1.    Determine the broad concept of the word.

See how the broad concept of the word fits in the present context. You may find the broad concept listed under ‘history’, ‘origin’, or ‘derivation’ of the word in a dictionary. The following broad concepts for some words are taken from “Dictionary of Word Origins” by John Ayto

The word STUDY comes from a Latin word meaning “eagerness, intense application”.

The word MATHEMATICS comes from a Greek word meaning “something learned”.

The word ARITHMETIC comes from Greek, ARITHMOS number + TECHNE skill, which means “number skill”.

2.    Look up the definitions of the word.

Look up the standard definitions provided for that word in a good but simple dictionary. Visualize the definitions as you look them up. You may sketch diagrams on paper, or make models with bits and pieces, or even make detailed models with clay.

To get a better idea you may bring up the images for that word on the Internet. Make examples of different definitions to understand the differences, and demonstrate them to obtain clarity.

Use the word in your own sentences to get further clarity on a definition. Relate the different definitions to your experiences to make them real.

4.    Look up words in definitions as necessary.

If a definition contains a word that is not quite clear then look it up per this procedure. This may sometime get you in a chain of words. List the words as you look them up, and cross them out as they are cleared up. It is okay to look up the same word many times. Each time you look it up you may pick up a new dimension to its meaning.

5.    Determine the definition that fits the context.

Once you have understood the basic concept and have adequately examined all the definitions of the word, determine the definition that fits the context the best. Then review that area to see if the confusion has cleared up.

Keep examining the definition of words in that area until the confusion clears up fully. Continue with the next step of subject clearing.

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