Hello, my name is Barbara, I am a Culinary Nerd, and I have a problem.
I can’t stop playing Free Rice.
Well, besides the fact that it is a vocabulary game that tests your language skills by giving you words, and then four choices of definition, which, for a literary nerd like myself, is irresistible, (yes, in addition to being a Culinary Nerd, I am also a Literary Nerd) but for each correct answer you give, 20 grains of rice are donated to the United Nations World Food Program. The money comes from the advertisers who support the site, and the words come from professional lexicographers, and the time to play–well, that comes from me multitasking while I am doing other
stuff at the computer.
The game is bloody addictive–there are words in fifty levels of difficulty, and after the first few words, a baseline level of difficulty is set for you. Then, to quote the FAQ:
FreeRice automatically adjusts to your level of vocabulary. It starts by giving you words at different levels of difficulty and then, based on how you do, assigns you an approximate starting level. You then determine a more exact level for yourself as you play. When you get a word wrong, you go to an easier level. When you get three words in a row right, you go to a harder level. This one-to-three ratio is best for keeping you at the “outer fringe” of your vocabulary, where learning can take place.
And, as the FAQ states, that while there are fifty levels, it is rare for anyone to go higher than forty-eight.
I’ve gone to level fifty several times, though most of my playing time is spent around level forty-six or seven.
The truth is, the damned game, which is played for the best of purposes, has hit my self-competitive streak, where in everything I do, I try one-up myself every time. So, once I hit level fifty, I wanted to work towards staying there. So, I am learning all kinds of new words, like “psalterium” which I guessed correctly meant “third stomach.”
Or, “weasand,” which means “throat,” which I neither knew nor guessed correctly.
Zak and Morganna make endless mock of me for it, but I am hooked. It is too much fun, learning new words, or puzzling out what an unfamiliar word probably means from divining the root word, and going from there. I just love stuff like that, and because English is a language which has root words in it from many languages: Anglo-Saxon, French, Latin and Greek, primarily, it makes these sorts of games so much more fun and challenging to play.
So, other than telling everyone who loves words and feeding people to go play, and to be prepared for the jibes of your friends and family once you get addicted, do I have any words of advice?
Well, I have noted several things about the words chosen for the upper levels.
Many of them are archaic, meaning, they are seldom in use any more. Many of them have to do with arms, armor, carriages, horses and ships, which have little commerce in modern life. (Which means all you SCA geeks and readers of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Patrick O’Brian will be in your element.)
Many of these words have French or Latin roots, with a smaller number of them from the Greek. If you have any knowledge of any of these languages, you will do well at Free Rice. I, nerdy woman that I am, have had five years of Latin in school, and three of French, so…yeah. Many of the Greek-based words are medical terms which you can pick up by watching those doctor shows on television, though I got a lot of mine by once being a pre-veterinary/pre-med student. (And growing up watching M*A*S*H obsessively. That helped.)
If you are from the UK, you will notice a great number of primarily archaic, but some modern British. slang terms which seem quite strange to Americans, (and thus they have a higher difficulty level) than you would guess. I got those from being a great reader of English literature and a big fan of lots of the shows on the BBC, past and present.
And there are a lot of terms relating to food: French and Latin-based primarily, so all the foodies around here should get it.
In fact, I would say that anyone who reads and writes a lot (like, um, say, bloggers) and anyone who cares about feeding people (that would be foodies), would not only do well with this game, but would feel good about it.
Even if it does label you as a big old egghead for life, and makes you the object of gentle derision for your immediate family.
Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.