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Biomedical and Electrical Engineer with interests in information theory, evolution, genetics, abstract mathematics, microbiology, big history, IndieWeb, mnemonics, and the entertainment industry including: finance, distribution, representation

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IndieWebifying my website: part 1, the why & how | AltPlatform

AltPlatform blogger Richard MacManus details how he's modifying his website to join the independent web. I'm tickled pink that he holds my site up as a quintessential example. (I'm hoping he's using it in the sense of the Latin word for five as I can name at least that many and even more that are better...) Of course, likeĀ Bernard of Chartres, I've only been able to see further because of giants like Matthias Pfefferle, David Shanske, dozens of other indieweb proponents, and the thousands upon thousands of folks in the WordPress community.

 
 
 
 
 

This is a brilliant exercise!

I have to imagine that once the conceptualization of language and some basic grammar existed word generation was a much more common thing than it is now. It's only been since the time of Noah Webster that humans have been actively standardizing things like spelling. If we can use Papua New Guinea as a model of pre-agrarian society and consider that almost 12% of extant languages on the Earth are spoken in an area about the size of Texas (and with about 1/5th the population of Texas too), then modern societies are actually severely limiting language (creation, growth, diversity, creativity, etc.) [cross reference: http://www.scmp.com/infographics/article/1810040/infographic-world-languages]

Consider that the current extinction of languages is about one every 14 weeks, which puts us on a course to loose about half of the 7,100 languages on the planet right now before the end of the century. Collective learning has potentially been growing at the expense of a shrinking body of diverse language.

To help put this exercise into perspective, we can look at the corpus of extant written Latin (a technically dead language): It is a truly impressive fact that, simply by knowing that if one can memorize and master about 250 words in Latin, it will allow them to read and understand 50% of most written Latin. Further, knowledge of 1,500 Latin words will put one at the 80% level of vocabulary mastery for most texts. Mastering even a very small list of vocabulary allows one to read a large variety of texts very comfortably. These numbers become even smaller when considering ancient Greek texts. [cross reference: http://boffosocko.com/2014/07/05/latin-pedagogy-and-the-digital-humanities/ and http://dcc.dickinson.edu/vocab/vocabulary-lists]

Another interesting measurement is the vocabulary of a modern 2 year old who typically has a 50-75 word vocabulary while a 4 year old has 250-500 words, which is about the level of the exercise.

As a contrast, consider the message in this TED Youth Talk from last year by Erin McKean, which students should be able to relate to: https://www.ted.com/talks/erin_mckean_go_ahead_make_up_new_words

 

How to memorize Dowling's Wheel and become fluent in fast http://mt.artofmemory.com/forums/how-to-memorize-dowlings-wheel-latin-declensions-conjugations-6254.html

Another piece that may help to speed things up is memorizing the "right" words in a specific order. Researchers at Dickinson in concert with others have compiled and documented a list of the most common core vocabulary words in Latin (and in Greek) based on their frequency of appearance in extant works. This very specific data becomes a tremendously handy tool when attempting to learn and master a language. It is a truly impressive fact that, simply by knowing that if one can memorize and master the 250 most frequent words in Latin, it will allow them to read and understand 50% of most written Latin. Further, knowledge of 1,500 of the most frequent Latin words will put one at the 80% level of vocabulary mastery for most texts. Mastering even a very small list of vocabulary allows one to read a large variety of texts very comfortably. Continuing on to memorize more and more provides one with even more facility--though with obvious diminishing returns.

I've written a bit more on the topic here: http://boffosocko.com/2014/07/05/latin-pedagogy-and-the-digital-humanities/

Additionally, I've created an Anki deck of flash cards that is downloadable (https://ankiweb.net/shared/info/1342288910) with the ability to modify the root database, so that one can cross-link it with one's own mnemonic system/images/other to speed up the creation of image relations and memorization/drilling.

 

I'll turn this question around to suggest that instead of taking notes from your math/physics textbooks, that you're FAR better off PUTTING notes INTO them! Those margins are meant for writing down the parts of problems and examples that the author implicitly leaves out.

One typically wouldn't take notes from a Spanish, French, or Latin textbook would they? Like most languages, mathematics should be read and written to practice it (and maybe even spoken).

Knowing math or physics is best demonstrated by actually doing problems - and the majority of the time, this is what is going to be on the test too, so just pick up a pencil or pen and start working out the answers.

These subjects aren't like history, philosophy, or psychology with multiple choice or essay type questions that might benefit from note-taking, so just jump right in. Give the book a short read and start plugging away at problems.

If you have problems getting started, take a look at some of the examples provided by the author (or in other books), cover up the answer, and try to recreate the solution.

Drafting off of the Quora question "Why aren't math textbooks more straightforward?" (https://www.quora.com/Why-arent-math-textbooks-more-straightforward) I'd suggest reading some of my extended answer here: http://boffosocko.com/2015/03/16/why-arent-math-textbooks-more-straightforward/