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Inferencing The art of guessing the meaning of unknown words Leif Frederiksen, November 2006.

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Presentation on theme: "Inferencing The art of guessing the meaning of unknown words Leif Frederiksen, November 2006."— Presentation transcript:

1 Inferencing The art of guessing the meaning of unknown words Leif Frederiksen, November 2006

2 They fell in love with the dog. Golden, gleaming, he took them over. What do you think took them over means? Let’s see what it is all about!

3 They fell in love with the dog. Golden, gleaming, he took them over. The cats What did the poor cats do?

4 They fell in love with the dog. Golden, gleaming, he took them over. The cats cowered in the kitchen What do you think cowered means?

5 They fell in love with the dog. Golden, gleaming, he took them over. The cats cowered in the kitchen, the dog sprawled on the living-room carpet, panting with life, large, irresistible. What do you thing irresistible means?

6 They fell in love with the dog. Golden, gleaming, he took them over. The cats cowered in the kitchen, the dog sprawled on the living-room carpet, panting with life, large, irresistible. By the time the girl arrived to reclaim him, which she duly did, they had all reconciled themselves to keeping him, had started to reorganise their lives on a dog basis. cowered: The cats try to make themselves small the kitchen. Everybody knows cats are afraid of dogs. No! This word has nothing to do with being a coward. took them over: Because the dog is golden and gleaming they fall in love with him. duly: as she should, as agreed. Cf: The train is due in 10 minutes. reclaim: take him back. Latin prefix re- = again, back. irresistible: You cannot resist him, you must give in to him. Cf. Danish ’resistent’. Latin prefix ir- = not. Other words you want to have a go with?

7 1. The reader´s knowledge of the world 1. Schemas 2. Semantic fields 2. The reader´s knowledge of texts 1. Building up expectations 2. Making predictions 3. The reader´s linguistic competence 1. Syntax 2. Morphology 4. Help from other languages langua ge texts world Top-down strategies Bottom-up strategies Inferencing strategies - overview

8 1. Knowledge of the world Knowledge of the world may be thought of as organised in ”schemas” (or ”scripts”). A schema is: ”a mental representation of a typical instance” A person has thousands of schemas which overlap and can be activated in numerous combinations. They give standard versons of what to expect and how to react in your daily life.

9 1.2. Schemas - examples

10 A basic schema such as Family dinner is known to most people, but its elements vary according to e.g.: Size and mix of family Nationality Religion Time of day Nature of the food Number of dishes Moods of the participants Duties etc Schema A schema is expressed in a semantic field, i.e. the specialized words and phrases characteristic of a schema situation.

11 1. 2. Semantic field. What schema? I never knew what I would find when I opened the doors to inspect my traps or looked behind the furniture, stove or refrigerator. I was afraid I would catch the mice and find them dead in the traps and have to dispose of them. I was afraid that I wouldn't catch the mice, and that I would have to go through the same repulsive ritual of setting and inspecting the traps night after night and morning after morning for God knows how long. What I dreaded most of all, though, was that I would open a door in the kitchen and find a live mouse crouching in a dark corner that would hesitate only long enough for me to spy it and then come bounding out past me beneath the thick, rolled-up magazine I always gripped in my sweating fist as a weapon. Oh, God, if that ever happened. If that ever happened, I knew I would have to make myself hit it as hard as I could.

12 1.2. Semantic field. Catching mice I never knew what I would find when I opened the doors to inspect my traps or looked behind the furniture, stove or refrigerator. I was afraid I would catch the mice and find them dead in the traps and have to dispose of them. I was afraid that I wouldn't catch the mice, and that I would have to go through the same repulsive ritual of setting and inspecting the traps night after night and morning after morning for God knows how long. What I dreaded most of all, though, was that I would open a door in the kitchen and find a live mouse crouching in a dark corner that would hesitate only long enough for me to spy it and then come bounding out past me beneath the thick, rolled-up magazine I always gripped in my sweating fist as a weapon. Oh, God, if that ever happened. If that ever happened, I knew I would have to make myself hit it as hard as I could.

13 1. Parking in New York A New York driver returned to his parked car to find it had been ?????? down one side. He then noticed a letter tucked under the windscreen from the driver who had damaged his car. It read, ”I have just run into your car. People have seen me and are watching me write this letter. They think I am leaving my name and address. They are wrong.”

14 1. Parking in New York (2) A New York driver returned to his parked car to find it had been ?????? down one side. He then noticed a letter tucked under the windscreen from the driver who had damaged his car. It read, ”I have just run into your car. People have seen me and are watching me write this letter. They think I am leaving my name and address. They are wrong.”

15 1. Parking in New York (3) A New York driver returned to his parked car to find it had been dented down one side. He then noticed a letter tucked under the windscreen from the driver who had damaged his car. It read, ”I have just run into your car. People have seen me and are watching me write this letter. They think I am leaving my name and address. They are wrong.”

16 1. Parking in New York (4) A New York driver returned to his parked car to find it had been dented down one side. He then noticed a letter tucked under the windscreen from the driver who had damaged his car. It read, ”I have just run into your car. People have seen me and are watching me write this letter. They think I am leaving my name and address. They are wrong.”

17 1. Parking in New York (5) A New York driver returned to his parked car to find it had been dented down one side. He then noticed a letter tucked under the windscreen from the driver who had damaged his car. It read, ”I have just run into your car. People have seen me and are watching me write this letter. They think I am leaving my name and address. They are wrong.”

18 2. Knowledge of texts »Text genres »Narrative structures »Etc.

19 2.1. Building up expectations Here a pretty baby lies Pray be silent and not stir Th' easy earth that covers her. Sung asleep with lullabies:

20 2.2. Making predictions John took the _______ out of his pocket again. He had never imagined that a _______ could be so big. He studied the two colours of the ______ for some time. The black part was what had been bad. Had that big _______ really been part of him? Getting it out had not hurt that much after all. Suddenly it struck him what he would say to his mother: ”Only one hole, but it is big”. tooth

21 3.1. Syntax. Discourse 1. Divisons: firstly, secondly, similarly 2. Contrasts: on the other hand, but 3. Logical consequence: so, consequently 4. Time sequence: then 4. Reference: this Often you can be helped by words that indicate text structure such as:

22 3. 1. Syntax. Discourse (2) Slavery had been abandoned by most Western societies by the middle of the 19th century, but it ________ in the American south. The word but signals a contrast, so what is the likely meaning of the original word represented by ________ ?

23 3.1. Syntax. Discourse (3) Slavery had been abandoned by most Western societies by the middle of the 19th century, but it flourished in the American south. To flourish means to be active and successful.

24 3.1. Syntax. Word class You probably know the words: brave ridiculous voice What do they mean? What does to voice mean?

25 3.1. Syntax. Word class (2) She did not approve of large dogs in London, had braved ridicule by voicing her views in print on dog licences and dog shit. So what does the following sentence mean?

26 3.2. Morphology –Prefix: abnormal, non-toxic –Root: biology (bio = life) diminish (mini = small) –Suffix: biology (logy = the study of a particular field of knowledge) Examples

27 Inferencing model ? unknown word ? Context Building up expectationsPredictions Form of the word The reader´s knowledge of the world Text

28 On the website of the book you will find Guess with game-like exercises of the typeGuess John took the _______ out of his pocket again.


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