Sunday, October 06, 2013

Word Search

Tracy was scanning her brain-files for a word on the way to church this morning, and I was able to supply it: defogger.  I was immediately struck by the fact that the word is enormously similar to defroster, so that one would think it would be stored nearby. But "Defrost" is used in speech often; "defog" I think I have only seen in print, when reading car manuals or something.

Most of us store words by initial letter and length, plus some favored categories we have each gotten used to over the years:'s a foreign's a compound's three syllables...etc.


james said...

When trying to read signs in a hurry (driving, on a train, etc), I don't have time to read the whole word and I try to ID by the easily readable parts: first and last chunks of the word. To read the middle requires parsing, and in a split second I can't always do that with an unfamiliar word.

This approach got me nowhere in Berlin. It seemed the last chunk was always "strasse."

Texan99 said...

Increasingly I use a cognitive system that's not under my conscious control to fill in crossword puzzles. It's the same one I sometimes use to think of the name of an actor that my husband and I can't quite place. I sort of take my brain out of gear and coast, cross-eyed, unfocussed, until the word or name pops up.

Often my husband and I collaborate in a kind of circling around the word, each of us coming out with the first letter or syllable, tentatively.

Conscious effort to remember seems only to obstruct the process.