Skills of meaning guessing in English reading
A. Specific explanation
Specific explanation is that the author better express the idea, in his article for some important concept, difficult to understand the terminology or the explanation given by the vocabulary. These explanations provided with specific information targeted to use them will be relatively easy to guess meaning.
1. Guess words meaning by the clues from definition. This is a direct and common way.
(1) Guess new word by the “to be, mean, refer to, represent, constitute”.
For example, ventilation, as you know, is a system or means of providing fresh air. It plays a very important part in the field of engineering. In this sentence “ventilation” maybe a new word, but behind the word “is”, it is the meaning of the new word “ventilation”. What things could offer the fresh air? So we can find the meaning of the new word: a system or means of providing fresh air.
(2) Guess new word by the “be defined as”, “be known as”, “be called”, “be termed” and so on.
In those structures of phases, we guess the meaning of the new words by the subject and subject complement. Readers can infer the meaning of the new words from the clear part to the unclear part.
e.g. A person or thing beyond comparison, a model of excellence, is knows as a paragon.
In this sentence the meaning of the word “paragon” is provided by the subject, a person or thing beyond comparison, a model of excellence, is known as a paragon. Clearly, before the phrase “be known as, the subject offered the meaning of the new word” paragon.
2. Guess words meaning by the repetition. This is also a direct and common way.
Guess words meaning by the repetition. It is similar to guess words meaning by the definition. May be you can accord to these clues signal words: that is, in other words, for example, for instance, likewise, similarly, namely, i.e. etc.
(1) Jack is indecisive, that is, he can’t make up his mind.
(2) Carbon monoxide is a noxious gas which can cause death.
(3) I am resolute man. Once I set up a goal, I won’t give it up easily.
(4) She had a wan look. She was so pale and weak that we thought he was ill.
Example 1’s clue Signal word is that is, example 2 which guide the clause. Examples 3 and 4 have two long sentences. They were crossed in front of a restatement of words, so that the meaning of new words at a glance.
3. Guess words meaning by enumerating sentences.
Authors often use the enumerating sentences or give an example to describe an important view or a conception. The example sentences in this essay as a signal will help readers to learn the new words. These sign words in enumerable relation include: Like, for example, for instance, such as, especially, include, consist of, specially.
e.g. Defined most broadly, folklore includes all the customs, belief and tradition that people have handed down from generation to generation.
In this sentence the new word is “folklore”. If you read it carefully, you would find its meaning behind the word “includes”—with the word, you would infer that the new word means customs, belief and tradition.
B. The intrinsic logic relations
1. Guess words meaning by contrast relation. When reading, readers often encounter, such as happy and sad, like and hate, open and shut, arrive and depart and so on. If these Antonyms simultaneously appear in a sentence or paragraph, it will easily guess the meaning of new words. This is a direct and common way.
e.g. Most of them agreed; however, I dissented.
In this sentence however means the expression of the relationship between contrast between the term before and after the text.
2. Guess words meaning by the antonym, comparing relation.
Sometimes authors will distinguish the word by the compare relation. In this process, the author must use compare or antonym words to make the word’s feature clearly. With the logic and compare relation, readers could infer the new words from the acquired word.
In order to show the compare relation, the author often uses a signal word to distinguish that another word and the new word are antonym relation. No doubt, these signal words will help the reader guess the new words. These words include: but, yet, however, while, whereas, otherwise, in spite of, despite, even though, although, though, unlike, instead (of), rather than, nevertheless, nonetheless, on the other hand, still, none the less, by contrast, on the contrary, in the end, compared to
e.g. In the past the world seemed to run in an orderly way. Now, however, everything seems to be in a state of turmoil.
In this sentence that the signal word is “however” The author compares new things to the past. The past things are “in an orderly way”, and the new things are “in a state of turmoil”, past things are managed, contrarily that is confusion.
3. By the relationship of cause and effect causality.
The cause and effect causality could offer the new words’ information 、a common, efficient and logical relationship of sentences. A real cause would cause a special result; a special result is due to the cause, in this process of describing, the author must put the word or sentence in to logical sentence, so, it will help the reader infer the new word’s meaning. The writer often uses a lot of such signal words as: Since, as, because, for, so, thus, consequently, therefore, hence, due to, result in, result from, as a result, for this reason, accordingly, so that, so…that, such…that
C. External factors
1. By prefix and suffix.
When you meet a new word in your reading process you can guess the new word by the prefix and suffixation because: Affixation is generally defined as the formation of words by adding word-forming or derivational affixes to bases. This process is also known as derivation, by which new words are derived from old or base forms. The words created in this way are called derivatives. According to the positions affixes occupy in words, affixation falls into two subcategories: prefix and suffixation.
Prefix is the formation of new words by adding prefixes to bases. Prefixes do not generally change the word-class of the base but only modify its meaning.
e. g. Dis- meaning ‘not, the converse of as in disobey, discredit, disloyal, disorder…..
In – (Il-, I r-, im-) are the same meaning as for dis- as in injustice, illiterate, irresponsibility, Immature.
Suffixation is the formation of new words by adding suffixes to bases. Unlike prefixes, which primarily affect a semantic modification of the base, suffixes have only a small semantic role, their primary function being to change the grammatical function of the base:
For example, -er is categorized as a noun suffix because all the derived forms from it are nouns whether it is fixed at the end of a verb as in employer or of nouns as in villager.
If you know a word’s root, you can infer the word’s meaning by the prefix and suffixation. Prefix is a denial, contrarily suffixation is an affirmation.
e.g. disobey –obey is a root, affirm word, but disobey is a denial word; lovable: the root is love, the suffixation is –able, the word is an affirm word.
2. Guess new words by the common knowledge, life experience and logical inference.
(1) Guess new word by the general knowledge, life experience.
In reading, readers can sometimes use an interdisciplinary understanding of knowledge, directly or indirectly own experience. Of the article described the plot of the more familiar with new words to guess the meaning of the greater probability.
In the process of reading, if the reader meet a new word, which can infer it by his life experience or general knowledge.
e.g. When a doctor performs an operation on a patient, he usually gives an esthetics to make him unconscious, because he does not want his patient to feel pain or to know what is happening to him.
According to the general knowledge we know that the doctor must gives an anesthetics to make the patient unconscious–the anesthetics is a liquid or gas which makes a person unable to feel pain, either by making him become unconscious, or by affecting one part of the body only, used by a doctor or dentist before operating on a person.
(2) Guess the word meaning by the logical inference.
Authors often combine some complex information to one to make the logic and meaning clearly. From previous paragraph to the next paragraph and reading between the lines, you could guess the meaning of the new word.
e.g. If you are capable of working twelve hours a day without a rest, and if you can engage in physical exercise for hours without seeming to get tired, then you are indefatigable.
A person who working twelve hours a day and in physical exercise for hours without seeming to get tired, he must an indefatigable people. After you guess, you could check if the logical is right or not.