Understanding Link Types

Each link on Vocabulink has a type. The best way to understand link types is to look through links created by other members. Each link is color-coded so that you can see what it is at a glance.

Linkword

The linkword is the most important type of link, because it’s the one with the most mnemonic value. It’s the type of link from which Vocabulink gets its name originally.

The idea behind a linkword is that the foreign language word triggers a similar-sounding word or phrase in your native language. You then use that native language word to create a mnemonic story linking the 2.

For example, the Esperanto word for “week” is “semajno” (pronounced roughly “say-mine-oh”). “semajno” could trigger the phrase “say ‘mine, ho!’” which you could then weave into a story about the 7 dwarves working all week or a less wholesome story if you like.

Note that linkwords do not have to sound exactly like the foreign word. They just have to be similar enough for the one to trigger the other in your brain. It’s common when you’re new at creating linkword mnemonics to get frustrated after searching for minutes for a linkword without success. Don’t despair. Just lower your standards a little bit and search for words and phrases that just have some resemblance to the foreign word.

Except for when dealing with soundalikes, always try to create links as link words. Spend at least 5 minutes searching for a link before giving up and moving to another link type.

Linkword associations always go from target (foreign) word (origin) to source (native) word (destination) because the linkword is triggered by the foreign word.

Soundalike

A soundalike is like an association, but it’s easier to remember because the words sound the same. For example, the German word “milch” is a soundalike for “milk”.

Be careful that you’re actually linking 2 words with the same meaning. Sometimes false friends can crop up. The Parker Pen company learned this the hard way when they translated “embarrass” as “embarazar” in the Spanish version of their slogan. What they wanted to say was “It won’t leak into your pocket and embarrass you” but they ended up saying “It won’t leak in your pocket and make you pregnant.”1

Association

An association is the least useful type of link. It only tells you that 2 words are related, but it gives you no information about how they are related.

Association links are link flashcards: there’s a word on each side, but that’s all you get.

Avoid creating association links. Only do so if you’ve exhausted all other possibilities but need to link the words for study.


  1. Sandy Serva, iLanguage: Translations for Global Research, Jan 2003, Vol. 26, Issue 1, p 51.