16 October 2006

Going Gaga Over Google Gadgets

I couldn't help it. WordWeb dictionary and This Day In History weren't enough. I had to add some more Google Gadgets to my sidebar, so in went Word of the Day from Dictionary.com and Chinese Audio Word of the Day from Declan Software. I was disappointed that there was no English word of the day at all with Google, but luckily not too long ago I saw the code for Word of the Day at Dictionary.com. I would love to see the word definition along with the word, but for now I'll have to live with whatever Dictionary.com provides. Maybe I'll read up on Google Gadget API to see if I can manipulate Dictionary.com's script somehow...

My late father was born in Vietnam but always considered himself Chinese. He tried to get all his children know Chinese but we couldn't fully meet his expectation. Three out of four went to Chinese school and can read and write a little bit. For years, every week my father would bring home for me the Oriental Heroes graphic novel. It helped somewhat, but reading and speaking are two different things. I regularly talk to my in-laws in Cantonese and occasionally watch Chinese movies, but I still consider my Chinese to be entry level. The language is just too darn difficult! Going along with my seemingly futile attempt to know more Chinese, I've thrown in the Google Gadget for Declan Software's Chinese Audio Word of the Day. It probably doesn't help that Declan uses Simplified Chinese characters whereas my paltry knowledge of Chinese words is for the Traditional form.

My love for the English words started one summer in the mid-80s when I prepared for the S.A.T. With my high school friends M and R, each day we would make a list of twenty words and their meanings from some S.A.T. prep book. We would try to memorize all the words and I would try to make use of the new words in our daily conversation and writings. I think the next summer I was the only one left studying the words this way. I supplement the study with crossword puzzles, William Safire's weekly column On Language in the New York Times, Word Power in Readers' Digest, etc. One American Heritage paperback dictionary I had was so worn out from the constant flipping I went through it with the puzzles. I boosted my overall S.A.T. score by 200 points the second time I took it - I suspect it was mostly from the English portion. Nowadays I play word games like Bookworm and TextTwist to keep my mind fresh with the words I know. Writing this blog helps, too. There are only so many fancy words one can use in the business environment.

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