[Haskell-cafe] Re: Is Haskell a Good Choice for Web Applications? (ANN: Vocabulink)

Daniel Carrera daniel.carrera at theingots.org
Tue May 5 05:56:35 EDT 2009

Chris Forno (jekor) wrote:
> The idea is that I spent years studying different languages, generally
> with a textbook. The textbooks tend to focus on teaching rules and
> grammar, with a little bit of vocabulary and dialog each chapter. I
> think the focus should be reversed.

I think it largely depends on the learner. Some people find vocabulary 
easier, or more interesting, others not. I have a hard time learning a 
lot of isolated facts (e.g. vocabulary), but I find it easier and more 
enjoyable to learn a rule that I can apply many times. But I know people 
who are the exact opposite. I wouldn't want to make an absolute rule.

I generally like rules that will save me a lot of memorization. I hate 
rules that force me to memorize a lot. I am not good at memorization.

> I consider myself to be a highly logically-oriented
> (audio-digital?) learning type, as I expect many programmers are.
> However, I still don't remember most grammar lessons. The only way I
> successfully became fluent in a language (Esperanto) was through
> immersion, and that wouldn't have been possible without a decent
> vocabulary to start with.

I totally understand, and I agree. And with only a few exceptions, I 
would say that vocabulary is more useful than grammar (even if I find 
the former harder to learn).

That said, I cause Esperanto as a good example of a language with rules 
that make learning easier. In Esperanto, the ending of a word tells you 
if the word is a noun, a verb, an adjective, a subject, an object, etc. 
Knowing these rules makes it much easier for you to learn Esperanto. 
When I learn a language, I like learning rules that will make language 
learning easier.

> That being said, Esperanto, and even Japanese sentence structure perhaps
> is not as different as an agglutinative language like German. I'll need
> to study it more to find out.

In the specific case of German, word order is a lot more important than 
any other language I know. You can get everything else about grammar 
wrong, but as long as you put the words in the right place people will 
probably understand you. But if you get everything else right, and put 
the words in the wrong place, you won't be understood.

> Absolutely. I'm not trying to claim that you only need 1,000 words to
> become fluent, like some courses claim.

Ok. I probably misunderstood something.

> The idea is that once you can begin to read with a dictionary by your
> side you'll begin learning much faster because you can focus on reading
> what *you* are interested in rather than some contrived dialog from a
> textbook.

In my case, the things I'm interested in are too technical :-(  I've had 
a hard time finding things that are interesting and are simple enough 
for me to read in German. But I'll get better.

> So far I've been focusing on Japanese. I only have 15 or so stories
> currently. They take a bit of time to create ;) For now, the navigation
> is basically to click the "Latest Links" link in the header bar or in
> the "Latest Links" box.



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