4 examples of how the deciphering process looks like

↓ Summary     &arr; En español

Before we begin (and don't worry, we are not going to do the Mario together), I invite you to read the following articles (at least the TL;DR) about how to improve your reading and your listening skills in English. Here I will try to illustrate what goes in the mind of someone who is following the methods I explain on the previous articles.

So, because they say the best way to learn to do something is by following examples, I wanted to show you some "simulations" of how the deciphering process looks like (more or less) for different kinds of content. For this I deciphered the following four pieces of content in English that I've never seen/read before, and I wrote down my thoughts and whatever passed through my head as I followed the process. The content pieces are:
I deciphered the song and Let's Play video using my current English skills. For the short story and the article I tried to make it look like my English skills are inferior to what they really are.

When deciphering the song and the Let's Play I put into words the actions I was taking (play song, pause song, search for word Z on dictionary X, etc.), and I also put down the thoughts that passed through my mind ("Hey, what is this word?", "Hmm... I've seen this before...", "Ahh, this is one of those words that have '-ed' at the end, isn't it?", thoughts like that). For the short story and article I tried to simulate processes and thoughts like that, trying to make it look as if my English skills were low.

This format of examples is chaotic and looks a bit weird, but this is the only way I can think of to transmit these examples in written words. It could be easier to illustrate these examples with a video (I might do that in the future). I recommend you open the article, song, video, etc. that I'm deciphering so that you have context for the things I mention on each example.

Oki doki, without further ado, I hope this mental dump helps illustrate the crap one thinks when sitting down to learn English. And I hope this helps you follow more easily the processes I shared with you on the Reading and Listening articles. Let's dive in!


The song (with my normal skills)


Oh man, a song from Passenger that I haven't heard! I love the Let her go one... I bet this one will be great too. Let's see... Heart's On Fire... Great! Let's google the lyrics and open Lingoes just in case... all right, let's play this. Right now I will listen to the entire song first, and then I will search for anything I need to. Let's see... err, I mean, listen...

(The music video starts)

Hmm, a briefcase with a book... oh, cool melody. We started well :D

... ok, "I don't know how and I don't know why"...

Hmm... "when something"... what? "we can't see..." I think that afterwards he said "it"...

... he said "if we are"... ¿"clothing"? No, that can't be. But I understood when Michael said "we start to cry".

Ohh, what an awesome melody! And Michael says again, , "I don't know how and I don't know why". Ok.

Ohhh yeaahhh violins!!

Hmm... did he say "when" or "why"? Then he said, "I don't have many and I don't have much...". Hmm... I don't think "why" is what goes after that. Maybe "when".

"Infected don't have thing while curled enough??"... damn it, I didn't understand that well.

"Cuz"... he did say "cuz"? I'm not completely sure... but I'm pretty sure he said, "I know those eyes and I know that touch." Awww.

... and what's up with that cart?

"I don't have many and I don't have much". Perfect. Hmm... I bet Michael said "I" before, not "why".

"Oh darling my heart's on fire". Awwwwwwwww.

Hey, the unfocused lights are a nice touch.

... ¿¿"fyu"?? What was that? Maybe Michael meant "you"...

"I don't know where and I don't know where." Ok.

"But I know we'll be lovers"... " 'gain "? There Michael contracted "again"? Hmm... I think he did. It makes sense.

"Seeing someday fourth a.m.". That's... not good. But whatever, let's keep going.

"Don't know where and I don't know when". Ok, I got that.

... that old man represents Michael decades after? Wow...

Ok, I think he said "But...", but then I KNOW he said, "... oh darling my heart's on fire"

Bis. ok. Bis again. Ok... ohh, candles!

"You know those love songs break your heart. Heaaaart." :(

Bis. Bis again. Ehm... hmm, he's burying the briefcase.

"Ohh darling my heart's on fire". Good.

Bis. ok. Bis again. Another bis. Yet ANOTHER bis, lol. Ohh the cart.

Another bis.

... "¿¿FYU??"

... he said, "If you all" Ughh, I don't get it, it looked like he said "fyu", what's that...

Awwww, the old man :(

...

(Music video ends)


Ok, that song was pretty good! Cool melody. I might search more songs by Passenger later.

All right, now let's check the lyrics of this thing... let's see, MetroLyrics.com...

(I open the lyrics)

Hmm... ohh, there was a "well" in the beginning? I didn't register it :P

Ohhhhh, "when something's living well you can't say die". Ohhh ok.

"You feel like laughing but you start to cry". Ohhh, and understood "clothing" lol.

Ok, I understood well that line.

Maaan, it wasn't "when" or "why", it was "well"! Ya see??

OHHH, IT WAS "In fact I don't have any but I got enough". And I was all like "infected" looool xD

Well, the lyrics say " 'Cause" and I said "'Cuz"... well, that the same in my book :D

Yup. Good. Good good...

¡OHHHHHHHHHHH, IT WAS "FOR YOU"! And I was like, ¿¿"fyu"?? I didn't fell the "r", Michael was saying it more like "Fo' you" I think...

Ok, good. Yup, good... what I said, Michael said "'gain" as in "again".

Ohh, it was "I'll see you someday before the end", not that other "Seeing someday fourth a.m." thing I interpreted... "before"... "fourth"... well, that wasn't that far in terms of pronunciation hehehe.

Ok... I think I missed that "I" in the beginning? I didn't notice it.

¡Ha! What did I tell you, Michael said "buttlol but".

Ok, yes "darling darling darling", "those love songs break your heart", si, good good good good good good good good...

Ohh, there's the "fyu" again... which really was a "Fo' u"... hmm, and it was "For you oh", not "If you all". Ok.

(I close the lyrics)

Man, there were various parts I didn't understand... but oh well, I trained a bit doing this. Now, let's cement the song in my head by listening to it again... and also because I liked it :D

(I listen to the song again, thinking about the correct parts as shown on the lyrics)

Hmm... ok, now I understood more, but I don't know, Michael's pronunciation is not as clear sometimes. And I forgot a couple of things after looking at the lyrics... but oh well, I would say this was a successful exercise.


The story – Simulating low-intermediate ability of a native Spanish speaker


Well, let's check out one of those stories on ESLfast that that Santiago guy recommended... hmmm, "Stop selling those bunnies". Stop selling those... what was that? Let's open up Lingoes and check... well, the Vicon dictionary tells me that "bunny" is "conejo"... hmmm, so "bunnies" must be "conejos"... or at least, it looks like it. And "those" is used with more than one thing... so yeah, it must be "conejos".

Ok, let's open this and... ok, let's play this and see what's up with the bunnies. I'll pause whenever I don't understand something. Let's go...

(recording starts playing)

... to the president of "pets ar es"? Let's see, let's pause this and search "to the president" in the story's transcript...

Ohhh. "Pets R Us". Like Toys R Us hehehe. Ok, let's keep going...

"nationwide"? What does that mean... what about the nation? Let's look it up...

Ok, Lingoes tells me it's pronounced / `neɪʃn,waɪd / and that it means "in all parts of a country". Ok... ohh ok, like a chain store that has stores throughout the nation. All right, let's continue...

"... or rabbits, said..." Said who? Let's see... ohh, it's a name: Barbara Walters. Some woman. Ok, moving on.

"... a matter of time" ... what does that mean? "Matter" as in "materia"? It's a "materia de tiempo"? Or maybe "matter" means something else in that context? Let's search it... hmmm, it says that "matter" can be "materia, asunto, cosa, cuestión..." Huh... "Cuestión"? Then is it... "Cuestión de tiempo"? What if I search for "Matter of time" in the dictionary, let's see...

Haha! What did I tell you, there it is: I searched for "Matter of time", and the translation is "Cuestión de tiempo". Awesome. Ok, let's keep going...

Hmm... "many rabbits in..." what goes next? Let's see... "many rabbits in"... "shelters". I have no idea what that word means. Let's look it up... hmm, "shelter"... then "shelters" must be several of those. Let's see... "refugio, abrigada, abrigadero... albergue, amparo..." What do they mean there... "refugios"? Like "refugios de animales"? Hmm...

... to be sure I'm going to search on Linguee.es to see what examples come out. Let's see, let's type "shelters"... ok, now let's go down to the examples.. ok, "Esatech manufactures shelters...", "Camps and shelters that have existed...", "She's a fixture in the shelters, serving meals..."

On those three cases "shelters" translates into "refugios, viviendas, refugios"... yep, it seems to be that, like the "refugios" of the Association for the Protection of Animals. Ok, let's keep going then.

"She adviced"... eh? Hmmm... but isn't "advice" supposed to be a thing, and not an action? Let's look it up on Lingoes... uh? Lingoes doesn't show results for "adviced"? Weird... let's try searching on WordReference then... huh?? Only the definition for "advice" appears, and it says that the definition is "consejo"... there's something weird going on here...

Hmm... now that I remember, I didn't check the transcription. Let's say if maybe I wrote that wrong...

OHH DAMMIT!! It was "advised", not "adviced"! D'oh! Ok, lesson learned. Now let's see the definition of "advised"...

Hmm... no complete definitions appear... but under "Spanish" it says "Aconsejar"... ok, I've seen words like "Destroyed" and "Whispered" before, so "advised" is probably the past form of "advise", which would be "aconsejar"...

Should I search on Linguee to see if that's correct? ... nah, for the next one. Let's see...

"In addition, she..." "She" what? "She worn"? Let's see the transcription... OHHH, "she warned". Well, I already know what "warned" is... "advirtió". I already know that one, but I didn't understand it well at first. Ok, let's see what else we got...

"... they are not people friendly"... "people friendly"? How does that work... I know that "friendly" means "amigable"... shouldn't it be "they are not friendly with people"? I don't know... let's see the transcription... yup, it says "people friendly". Weird... but no, that cannot be a mistake. This is an ESL site! Let's search "friendly" on Lingoes and see what it tells me...

It says "amigable, afable, afectuoso, amable... congenial, cordial... tratable, acogedor..." Hmmm, not clear to me yet. Now I WILL search this thing on Linguee, let's see...

Ok, let's scroll down to see the examples... Ohh! "user-friendly". "Environmentally friendly". "Installation friendly". "user-friendly" again. From the translations I understand that this means that something is manageable, that it's "friendly" in a certain sense. Yes, I understand now... glad I DID look for examples this time around!

Ok, let's keep going...

(And more things like that happen until the recording is over)


The article – Simulating intermediate skills in a Spanish speaker


Article here

Oooooooki doki, let's check out this Thought Catalog thing...

Hmm... "Here is what happens when you run away from all of your problems". Yes... yes, I understand that sentence. "Lo que pasa si huyes de todos tus problemas". Interesting, because you are supposed to NEVER run away from your problems... let's read this thing. Do I have my Oxford dictionary ready? Yup. Let's go!

Yes. Ok. Yes, that running away works, but only initially.

... "rush"? What is that? Let's see little Oxford, show me the goodies...

Hmm... Oxford is telling me that "rush" is pronounced /rʌʃ/, and that it's an action... it says it means to "move fast", "do something fast"... but I don't know, that doesn't sound right. The sentence says, "There is a certain rush that comes from running...", and in that sentence it's not like the girl is doing the "rush", but that the "rush" is a thing...

Hmm... let's scroll down the Oxford dictionary a bit more... Aha! There is a noun, a thing, that's also called "rush". Let's check it out... sooo, it says here that a "rush" is a fast and "sudden" movement... hmm, I don't know what "sudden" is... let's see what else it says...

It also says that it's a situation where you are in a hurry and you have to do things fast... "I'm in a rush". "What's the rush?"... under that it says that it could be a busy situation... and something about a feeling? Let's see, it says that "rush (of something)" is a "sudden"... THE HECK IS "SUDDEN"??

Anyways, it says that it's a strong emotion or signs of a strong emotion... hmm... it could be "a sudden rush of excitement". I mean, "There is a certain rush that comes from running" would be like... no, wait a minute... in that case it would have to be "rush (of something)", but in the sentence "rush" doesn't have "of" after it...

Let's see the fifth definition... ohhh... OHHH... OHHHHHH!! A... "sudden" (AGHHH SCREW YOU SUDDEN!!11) feeling of extreme pleasure or excitement. Ohh look look, "Users of the drug report experiencing a rush that lasts... "several"? (don't understand that)... minutes." Yup, that must be it.

So, the sentence in the article means like, "There's a certain... pleasure/excitement that comes from running..." Yeah, that!!

Ok, let's keep going...

... "realization"? Let's look it up... come on little Oxford!

Ok, I think I found it. Realization, it's pronounced /ˌriələˈzeɪʃn/, and it says that it's the act or process of becoming... ehh, "conscious" about something. Let's see the examples...

"The sudden..." You know what? This is ridiculous. I'm looking up what the hell is SUDDEN because I'm tired of it...

Let's see, it's pronounced /ˈsʌdn/ and OHHHHHHH ok, now I understand. "His death was very sudden". Yes, that would be... uhh... súbito. That, súbito. All right, I get it now! Anyways, let's go back to "realization"...

... ohh of course, there we go: "The SUDDEN realization of what she had done"... hmm, "had done"... does that mean "ha hecho" or "hizo"?... no, all the other sentences I've seen with the "had" meant "ha"... but yes, I understand. In Spanish it would be something like... uhh... "realización"?

Whatever, but yes, I understand the concept. The sentence in the article says... "the liberating realization that not all your problems... necessitate"? Sounds like "necesitan"... let's look it up quickly and let's verify its pronunciation while we are at it...

Let's see... /nəˈsɛsəˌteɪt/. Hehehe, yeees, it's pronounced like I imagined. Hmm... now that I'm here let's quickly check the definitions... "Recent financial scandals have necessitated changes...", yup, its "necesitar".

All right, let's keep reading the sentence... "not all problems neccessitate solutions". Ok, good. Yes, I understand the phrase. In Spanish it would be like, "Que es la liberadora realización de que no todos los problemas necesitan soluciones". Very good. Next sentence...

"not all queries..." Ufff, already three words I don't know? Come on my little and lovely Oxford, tell me what's "queries"...

Well, it says that "query" is pronounced /ˈkwɪri/ or /ˈkwɛri/. Cool. Ohh look, there it is: It says that the plural for "query" is "queries". Perfect. Now let's look at the definition...

Ok, it says that it's a question, specially one asking for information or expressing doubts about something. Yes. "... will be happy to answer your queries"... you mean, like "inquietudes" in Spanish? I think so, look: "If you have a query about your insurance policy..." Yes, I think that would be like "inquietúd"...

Ok, so the sentence would mean "No todas las inquietudes requieren clarificación" in Spanish. Ohh, cool. Well... I'm a curious person and I would like to solve most "queries" I have... but whatever, let's keep reading...

(And that goes on until the article is finished)


The subbed Let's Play – My normal skills


Video here

Very well, so we have a Let's Play featuring the crazy orange that speaks fast? And he's playing FAPPY Flappy Bird? Hmm... this is gonna be good hehehe. Let's go!

(I start playing the video)

Ok, 5 seconds in and I didn't understand the "grindstone" thing. Time to check the transcription...

"A-to-the-O with his nose to the grindstone"

Ohhh ok. "A to the O" because he is the Annoying Orange. And "with his nose to the..." uhh... I know what a "grindstone" is, but I don't know how to say that in Spanish... let's look it up in Lingoes... ohh ok, "...en la piedra de afilar/moler".

This is something interesting that happens when you do more things in English than Spanish: You learn words in English that you don't know how to say in your native language :P

But whatever, I understood well the part that says, "back at it again with more Let's Play". I will "rewind" the video a couple of seconds and play it again...

Ok, I keep understanding well...

... lol, a duck with one eye. You said it...

Ok... yup... yeah, I also think Mario designed those pipes, Orange...

... "plum dumb"? Like in "plain dumb"? Puns. Puns everywhere.

... what "duckie"? Ohh, I think he said "one-eyed duckie". Let's verify... yep, that's it. And it seems that it's written "one-eyed ducky". Not "duckie". Weird... I'll look it up in the Oxford dictionary to see if it says anything...

Huh... Oxford tells me that "ducky" is also a quality, an adjective. It says that "ducky" is something very pleasant. Heh, I didn't know that... I'll try to search "ducky" on Fraze.it to see what comes up...

Ok... rubber ducky, rubber ducky... now I'll try to search for "duckie" to see if anything comes up... who knows, maybe both "duckie" and "ducky" are correct. Let's see...

Nope... almost no results for "duckie", but it seems "Duckie" is a proper name, like "Richard" or "Janet"... well, I've learned something new: The correct way to write it is ducky.

Let's keep going with the Let's Play. Let's rewind it back a couple of seconds and play it again...

"What the duck"... eeyup...

Hmm... Orange said "They ought to name it"? Let's pause and verify to be sure, let's see... ohhh, it was "ought to change it", not "name it". Although he was referring to changing the name of the game anyways.

Crappy Bird indeed Orange... Crappy Bird indeed...

One moment... "twerking trout"??? Let's see... LOOOL yes, twerking trout. But I don't see how a trout can twerk if it doesn't have buttcheeks :(

Whaaaaaaaaatever, let's rewind a couple of seconds and keep watching...

Looooool, "Flappy Bird really makes me want to flip the bird". You can't do that anyways Orange, because you have no fingers :D

Ok, we are at minute 1:44 and Orange said what? Let's rewind and listen again...

"I gave 'em like a pass the first pipe"?? Nah, that's not right. Let me check the transcription...

"I didn't even make it past the first pipe!"

OHHH ok... lol, I'm interpreting worse than Youtube's automatic captions... ok, moving on...

Ok, minute 2:17, and it wasn't clear to me that "pin wheels" thing... hmm... let's check the transcription...

"I'm gonna trade it in for some whistling pinwheels."

... the friggin heck are whistling pinwheels? I know that "whistling" refers to something that makes a whistling sound, a "silbido", but pinwheel? Let's see if Oxford knows what a pinwheel is...

Ok, Oxford says that they are a curved plastic toy with the shape of a flower, and that if you blow on it, it spins... ohhh, I think I know what it is now. I'm gonna search the word on Google Images to see how it looks like to be sure...

Hmmm... yup, I saw the photos and it's the toy I imagined. To be honest, I don't know how it's called in Spanish, so I looked it up on WordReference, and it says its called a "molinete". I also found that the "whistling" pinwheels are not a real thing, and that they only exist in the Annoying Orange universe... I almost thought they were real things – that they were just pinwheels designed to make sounds when the wind makes them spin... no?

ANYWAYS, moving on...

Loooool, "You give me a new best, I give you a new nest!". SO. PUNNY.

And this is the first time I see the Annoying Orange mad for a change... you could say that playing Flappy bird turns him into the Annoyed Orange?? Ehh? EHH??

"Resisting temptation to kick the phone out of the window..." But how are you gonna kick it if you have no legs? :(

Hey, what did he say right after "bird jokes"? Hmm... ok transcript, work your magic...

Ohh... it just says [grumbles]. So you could say that nobody is supposed to understand what Orange mumbled there. All right, moving on...

"... and more on playing the game..." Man, what did he say after that? Transcription!

Ohh. "... that would help out". Let's replay that again... ohh yes, Orange says "help out", but he mumbles it, so it was hard to understand him... ok, let's keep going...

Wow... he threw the phone... and those photos of Bert and Ernie with fruit faces are creepy D:

(End of the video)

Ok, this was a interesting exercise, and hey, I learned how to write ducky correctly. The more you know...


And that's it, a lot of things that go through the mind of some guy who sits down to decipher content in English.

Once again, I hope these "mind dumps" put on words have been helpful in giving you an idea of what actions happen (open dictionary Z, look up word X, etc.) and what goes through your head ("I haven't seen this word before", "This looks like a word I've seen before", etc.) when you sit down to decipher content in English.

Now that you have a better idea of how the deciphering process looks like... go and do it! Get pieces of content in English about things you like, and start improving your understanding in the language.

So get to work, keep progressing, and keep your hopes up!


Summary


The only way I can think of to summarize this is to not show you examples, and just let you experiment with the methods to decipher text by yourself.

Here are the TL;DR of the methods to decipher texts and audio in English. Go and practice them.


Last updated: May 22 of 2015

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