Note From Jon

Adieu.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Philolanthropy?

As mentioned previously, I’m going through a phase of minor addiction to online edutainment. A few days ago I thought I might be able to manage my habit. I was coming to terms with losing my first Scrabulous game, and having finally beaten level 12 of the World Traveler’s quiz, I was ready to retire with my newfound knowledge that Vladivostok, Russia is just above North Korea and that somehow Norway inexplicably owns an island midway between South Africa and Antarctica called Bouvet. But then my little pusher, I mean sister, had to go ahead and ruin everything by offering me some of this great stuff she found at www.freerice.com... and I was hooked all over again.

FreeRice is essentially an adaptive vocabulary quiz. Each time you get a word right the next one is theoretically harder. Get one wrong and it gets easier. Nothing too exciting… unless you are a mild word nerd (philologist) like me with fond memories of the now-renamed “verbal” section of the SAT. But what makes FreeRice unique (to me at least) is the philanthropy angle. For every word you get right, the proprietors of FreeRice donate 20 grains of rice to the UN’s World Food Programme. Riiiiiggggttttt. But apparently it is legitimate. Now admittedly it isn’t the most efficient way to donate time or money to a charitable cause, and I think my circle of friends would contract dramatically if I started throwing out some of the higher level words in conversation, but that doesn’t stop me from feeling just a bit vogie each time I get a word right. I figure I’ve donated some food, learned a new word that could help in Scrabulous someday, and gotten one step closer to reaching vocab level 50 (level 48 so far – yeah it keeps track of that too. Did I mention it taps into my competitive vein?). And I’ll admit that the philologist in me enjoys learning a word that we’ve heard through our lives but probably had no idea what it meant, like kith (friends, as in kith and kin). Plus, while my friends may not speak these words, they do write them, like George's satori (enlightenment) and Dagny's affianced (betrothed)…

2 comments:

Dagny Taggart said...

It probably surprises you not at all to learn that not only am I a FreeRice aficionado, but I try to refrain from excessive lexiconical hijinks in regular conversation, for much the same reason.

My success has been limited, though. Sigh. :o)

Jon said...

The difference is that you either wrungled* across FreeRice in its first 11 days of existence, or you chose to refer to "the affianced" all on your own. Based on what I know of you, it would surprise me not at all to learn that it was the latter. Thank you and your blog for keeping me edutained :-)

*Don't bother looking it up, it's a word I invented last year for no good reason whatsoever (though I subsequently learned it irritates the hell out of Darren - that I tried to invent a word - so it now has a purpose).