The word came up in coversation about children of illegal immigrants in the U.S., and the challenges they face in going to university (I don’t know if this is still an issue but I remember hearing about it at one time in the past). Anyway, the Chinese person (speaking in English) was saying that they thought the U.S. Government should give these children “…….?…..”.
All of a sudden the person was at a loss for the right word; however, in the context of our topic and the tone of the speakers voice, the message was extremely clear–my very first guess was “amnesty”, which after we double checked with the dictionary, turned out to be correct.
Admittedly, it’s not a word that comes up very often in conversation—indeed, I doubt that I’ll be able to recall the word the next time I need it, but I hope noting it today will make it seem just a little bit more familiar the next time our paths cross.
Learning new words in context like this is one of my favourite ways to get new vocabulary. This is especially true these days because I spend substantially more time speaking English with Chinese people than I would if I were living in a Mandarin speaking community.