Blogged by Ujihisa. Standard methods of programming and thoughts including Clojure, Vim, LLVM, Haskell, Ruby and Mathematics written by a Japanese programmer. github/ujihisa

Sunday, September 20, 2009

How To Skim Long Sentences Quickly

How can non-English speaking people skim long sentences quickly? Today I saw the light with the hack:

One way to increase your comprehension is to ignore all the extra words in a sentence -- trim the fat.

-- Cracking the TOEFL iBT 2008 edition

It could applied for only formal sentences.

To examine how it works, let me demo with the following sentences:

The Leland Stanford Junior University, commonly referred to as Stanford University or Stanford, is a private research university located in Stanford, California, United States. The university was founded in 1885 by United States Senator and former California governor Leland Stanford and his wife, Jane Lathrop Stanford, as a memorial to their son Leland Stanford Jr., who died of typhoid in Italy a few weeks before his 16th birthday. The Stanfords used their farm lands in Palo Alto to establish the university hoping to create a large institution of higher education in California.

Stanford enrolls about 6,700 undergraduate and about 8,000 graduate students from the United States and around the world every year. The university is divided into a number of schools such as the Stanford Business School, Stanford Law School, Stanford School of Medicine, and Stanford School of Engineering. The university is in Silicon Valley, and its alumni have founded companies including Nike, Hewlett-Packard, Electronic Arts, Sun Microsystems, Nvidia, Yahoo!, Cisco Systems, Silicon Graphics and Google.

The USNWR ranked Stanford's undergraduate program fourth in the nation, and Stanford is consistently ranked high in other college and university rankings. Stanford is one of two private universities that compete in the Pacific-10 Conference. Stanford's main athletic rival is Cal, and the two schools meet annually in the Big Game, a football game in which the winner is awarded the Stanford Axe.


They become the followings:

  • The Leland Stanford Junior University is a private research university. The university was founded. The Stanfords used their farm lands.
  • Stanford enrolls. The university is divided. The university is. Its alumni have founded companies.
  • The USNWR ranked. Stanford is ranked. Stanford is one of two private universities. Stanford's main athletic rival is Cal.

Of course the fat part which is eliminated is also important for understanding what the sentences are stating, but it doesn't base the structure.

I thought skimming English sentences meant that just see each word flatly and quickly, but it was wrong. It is important for particularly non-English speaking people to catch only the important parts, in this case which are Subject, Verb and Object in each sentences.

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