When new words aren't new: inflection

All the words that turn to white in the image below are simple inflected forms of words I already knew before coming to that page. This relates to a couple of recent threads about the speed of learning “new” words, what number of known words indicate what level of mastery, etc. I started a new thread because only the lead post can have a picture, and a picture is worth a thousand words.

I assume most people here know what inflection is – a change in a word, usually at the end, consistent with a specific usage. English examples: talk → talks, talked, talking; and she → her. Some languages, like Russian, have a whole lot more of this than others, so my known word count really is not nearly as impressive as it might seem to someone studying a non- or lightly-inflected language. And, as demonstrated, it is easy to add many “new” known words when they’re not really new.


This is almost a way for me to be motivated in my Russian learning, since my word count rises steadily with these kinds of words. On the other hand, with German the dual use of some words as verbs and nouns with different meanings causes me to take a long time to add them to my known words.

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Just read some and here’s an example of what happened to me when I viewed the hint for “ausgefahren”:
“1. deliver 2. extend, raise das Fahrgestell ausfahren lower the undercarriage 3. (a vehicle) drive flat out 4. (roads) ausgefahren sein be rutted, be damaged 5. jdn ausfahren take sb for a walk/ride/drive”
I know that you get used to this with context, but I never felt that I was this bombarded with
Russian. In a way, it’s really neat and interesting to get flooded with meanings like this!