Misunderstood Words (MUs)
and How to Clear Them

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"Wisdom begins with the definition of terms."

Socrates  (470 B.C. - 399 B.C.)  

 

"Misunderstood" or "Not-understood" are used to describe any troubles with understanding words, symbols, etc. There can be a lack of understanding of a word, concept, or symbol. Most people think of a misunderstood as something they don't know - a "not-understood." A "not-understood" is a misunderstood but there is more to it. It is fully described in the 10 categories below. 

A Misunderstood Word or Symbol (MU) can be:

1. A false definition: This is where a person has a definition that has no relationship to the actual meaning of the word. 
Example:
The person reads or hears the word "dog" and thinks that "dog" means "pillow". They couldn't get more wrong of course. 
Example:
A person sees a multiply sign (x) and thinks it means to cross something out.

2. An invented definition: An invented definition is a type of a false definition. The person made it up himself or he was given somebody else's idea. This can be difficult to find as he is certain he knows it - after all he invented it himself. But usually it does read on a Meter.  
Example: A gang talks about 'goop' all the time. A new member does not know what it means, but take it to mean 'beer'. To the gang it means 'drugs'. The new member is very confused.

3. An incorrect definition: This is a definition that is not right but may have something to do with the word or symbol. 
Example:
A student reads the word 'image' (like how an actor is perceived by the fans)  and takes it to mean painting or drawing. The two meanings are related but failure to distinguish between them lead to MU's and confusion in the students mind.

4. An incomplete definition: A definition that is neither precise enough or insufficient. 
Example: The person reads the word "office" and thinks it means "room." The definition of the word "office" is: "a room or building which holds an administrative business activity." 

5. An unsuitable definition: A definition that by itself is correct, but does not fit in the context it is used. It causes the student not to be able to understand the sentence correctly. 
Example: The person hears the sentence: "he is dressing a turkey." The person understands "dressing" as "putting clothes on." That is one definition of "dressing" but it is not the definition used in the sentence. The definition of "dressing" that applies is: "making ready to cook." 

6. A homonymic definition:  One word that has two or more clearly different meanings. A homonym can also be two (or more) words that sound the same ("piece" and "peace" for example). This can cause the student not to understand the text.  
Examples:
to box (sport); a box (container). Piece (a part of something). Peace (opposite of war).

7. A Substitute Definition: A substitute definition occurs when a person uses a synonym for the definition of a word. A synonym is not a definition. A synonym is a word having a meaning similar to that of another word. 
Example: The person reads the word "portly" and thinks the definition of the word is "fat." "Fat" is a synonym for the word "portly." But "portly" means: "of a stately appearance; impressive, especially because of size." The student needs to learn the full definition for a word as well as its synonyms.

8. An omitted (missing) definition: An omitted definition is a definition of a word that the person is missing; it can be omitted from the dictionary he is using. In other words, the word is used in a meaning the student doesn't know, but he thinks he does. This can often have to do with slang or humor. 
Example: to 'borrow' something may mean to steal it. 

9. A No-definition:  A no-definition is a "not-understood" word or symbol. 
Example: The person reads the sentence "The business produced no X%&$." The student obviously doesn't have a definition for 'X%&$' as it simply is a misprint and can't be understood in the sentence.  

10. A rejected definition: A rejected definition is a definition of a word which the person will not accept. This can be based on emotional reactions to it. The person finds the definition degrading to himself or his group, etc. He may have a total misunderstood on the word and still refuse to have it explained or look it up in a dictionary. 
Example: A person runs into the musical expression "C Minor", but knows that belongs to classical music and he finds people with that interest too intellectual and the type that look down on him. He is totally unwilling to look it up. "C minor" is a musical key, meaning the musical scale the piece of music is written in. The scale starts on the note 'C'. 


Any word that fits one or more of the above descriptions  must be cleared up as it is an MU. Use a good sized dictionary or more than one dictionary, text book, or encyclopedia. It is harmful to go on past or ignore a misunderstood word or symbol as one simply will not understand what one is studying. It is a matter self-discipline to not go past misunderstood words. Recognition the symptoms of so doing is easy to learn. One of the worst symptoms is the mental blankness that usually follows right after a misunderstood word. Look up the symbols or words and get them fully defined before going on with the reading. Students must understand it takes a self-discipline that has to learned. The different types of "misunderstoods" and "not-understoods" must be clearly grasped by a person seeking to clear them in himself and others. The most common error in Word Clearing is for the person being Word Cleared to believe that a misunderstood is something he simply does not know. With this limited definition he cannot effectively be Word Cleared nor should he Word Clear others. So these definitions of "misunderstood" and "not-understood" should be very well known, as it will often be necessary to have to clarify them with the person being Word Cleared.

 


Clearing Words

 

   You clear words with   
a good dictionary.

 

It has become all too obvious that a misunderstood word remains misunderstood and will later hang a person up unless he clears the meaning of the word in the context in which it is found. The MU's also have to be cleared in all of their various meanings in general usage. When a word have several different definitions one cannot limit his understanding of the word to one definition only and call the word "understood." One must be able to understand the word when, at a later date, it is used in a different way. Otherwise he will use the wrong definition when running into it later.

To clear a word one looks it up in a good dictionary. Dictionaries recommended are The World Book Dictionary (2 volumes); also a large  Oxford Dictionary. 

A good dictionary should use simpler words to explain more difficult words. It should have the origin or derivation of the word. It shouldn't use synonyms to define the meaning of a word with, but actually define the word by description. You should be able to complete the steps below easily with such a dictionary.

The steps:

1) The Definition that applies: The first step is to look over the definitions to find the one that applies to the context in which the word was found. One reads the definition and uses it in sentences until one has a clear concept of that meaning of the word. This can take many sentences. 

2) Other Definitions: One then clears each of the other definitions of that word, using each in sentences until one has a conceptual understanding of each definition.

3) Derivation: The next thing to do is to clear the derivation - that is the explanation of where the word came from originally. This will help gain a basic understanding of the word.

4) Don't clear the technical or specialized definitions (math, biology, etc.) or obsolete (no longer used) or archaic (ancient and no longer in general use) definitions unless the word is being used that way in the context in which it was misunderstood.

5) Clear Idioms. Most dictionaries give the idioms of a word. An idiom is a phrase or expression whose meaning cannot be understood from the ordinary meanings of the words. For example, "give in" is an English idiom meaning "yield." Quite a few words in English have idiomatic uses and these are usually given in a dictionary after the definitions of the word itself. These idioms have to be cleared.

6) Clear synonyms. One must also clear any other information given about the word, such as notes on its usage, synonyms, etc. so as to have a full understanding of the word. If one runs into a misunderstood word or symbol in the definition of a word being cleared, one must clear it right away using this same procedure and then return to the definition one was clearing (dictionary symbols and abbreviations are usually given in the front of the dictionary).

Example
You are reading the sentence "He used to clean chimneys for a living" and you're not sure what "chimneys" means. You find it in the dictionary and look through the definitions for the one that applies. It says "A flue for the smoke or gases from a fire." You're not sure what "flue" means so you look that up: it says "A channel or passage for smoke, air or gasses of combustion." That fits and makes sense so you use it in some sentences until you have a clear concept of it. "Flue" in this dictionary has other definitions, each of which you would clear and use in sentences. Look up the derivation of the word "flue." Now go back to "chimney." The definition "A flue for the smoke or gases from a fire," now makes sense so you use it in sentences until you have a concept of it. You then clear the other definitions. One dictionary has an obsolete definition and a geological definition. You would skip both of these as they aren't in common use. Now clear up the derivation of the word. One finds in the derivation that it originally came from the Greek word "kaminos," which means "furnace." If the word had any synonym studies, usage notes or idioms, they would all be cleared too. That would be the end of clearing "chimney."

List of Words
You will from time to time encounter lists of words that you need to clear on yourself or on another student. In this case you will not have any context for the word. If you don't know the context of the word, you should start with the first definition and clear all definitions, derivation, idioms, etc. as covered above.

Find a Good Dictionary
If you find yourself spending a lot of time clearing words within definitions of words, you should get a simpler dictionary. A good dictionary will enable you to clear a word without having to look up a lot of other ones in the process.

 

Metered Word Clearing. The Word Clearer uses a Meter to find MU's. An MU will produce a reaction of the needle. When the word is fully cleared it will show as a "Floating Needle"; the needle will move back and fourth at an even pace. At the time of the Floating Needle the student will feel happy and bright about the word. That is what is called Very Good Indicators (VGIs).

(Meter: The student has two electrodes or 'cans' she holds in her hands. A weak current of about 2 Volts goes from the one can to the other through the body. The cans are hooked up to the Meter. Mental reactions to a question will cause the needle (in the middle of the instrument) to react. The Word Clearer asks what it was. The student can now find it. The Meter reacts on things the student was barely aware of).

 

The Word Fully Cleared
A cleared word means conceptual understanding has been achieved. When each of the common meanings is understood (and any special meaning that is needed for the materials studied) that should be it. You should have the feeling that the word is now part of your vocabulary.
That's what a cleared word is. It is a word that is understood. In metered Word Clearing this would produce a "Floating Needle" on the Meter and a student with Very Good Indicators (smiling, happy). There can be more than one "Floating Needle" per word. Clearing a word must end with a Floating Needle and Very Good Indicators (F/N, VGIs). Off the Meter this would be seen simply as Very Good Indicators; the student is smiling and happy and obviously has a new understanding of the word. The above is the way a word should be cleared. When words are understood, communication can take place and with communication any given subject can be understood.

 

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