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I have a question about writing in journals.

I would like to learn more Spanish words. Rojo means red.

Should there be something before the meaning of rojo is given? I've thought of using e.g., but it seem as though that would be better used in a situation like this:

I would like to learn more Spanish words, e.g., rojo, azul, negro.

After thinking it over, I now feel that viz. would be the best fit, but I'm still unsure.

This is a statement of my desire to learn x. This sentence is the record of my learning of a component of x.

What can I write before the second sentence to make it clear what is happening there? Would a colon here undesirably conflate the idea of an incomplete record with the idea a complete one?

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"I would like to learn more Spanish words, for example, rojo, azul, negro." is probably best. – Mitch Jan 13 '13 at 20:51
By journal do you mean diary ? Or blog? Or a scholarly publication? – jwpat7 Jan 13 '13 at 21:29
I mean diary. – William Campos Jan 13 '13 at 21:46
this may be as much of a typesetting challenge as it is a writing challenge. – jlovegren Jan 14 '13 at 3:13

In linguistics publications, where words from unfamiliar languages are regularly introduced, a common style for in-line examples is to put the foreign language words in italics and follow it by a short translation (a gloss) enclosed in single quotes, for example.

I'd like to learn some Spanish words, e.g., rojo 'red'

If you use viz. (English equivalent is "namely") it would mean that the only word you are interested in learning is rojo. Unless that's the case, e.g. is probably the more appropriate abbreviation.

One overall issue is that when you want to learn words, you don't yet know what the words are. If you knew what the word was, you wouldn't need to learn it. You'll need to add some explanation, as other answer suggests, so the sentence won't just sound bizarre. For example, one could write:

I'd like to learn to learn some Spanish words, like rojo 'red'. I mean I know what the word means now, but how am I going to remember it at the right time?

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@slowlikemolasses you could say: "I'm going to look up some Spanish words to learn" then start listing them. probably the key thing is how you set the context to pull off the phrase in question. – jlovegren Jan 13 '13 at 22:36
Here's the Linguistic Society of America (LSA) Style Sheet, which is specific about how to do all of this stuff. – John Lawler Jan 13 '13 at 22:36
And here's the goods: "After the first occurrence of non-English forms, provide a gloss in single quotation marks: Latin ovis ‘sheep’ is a noun. No comma precedes the gloss and no comma follows, unless necessary for other reasons: Latin ovis ‘sheep’, canis ‘dog’, and equus ‘horse’ are nouns. See §8 for other instructions on glosses." – John Lawler Jan 13 '13 at 22:39
This question is not about speaking about a language within the context of another language. I should have used another example. – William Campos Jan 13 '13 at 22:42
@slowlikemolasses yes, please try to clarify the question by editing it. – jlovegren Jan 13 '13 at 22:57

There's no point in supplying the meaning of "rojo". Many non-Spanish speakers know the meaning of it anyway, and supplying the meaning does nothing to flesh out the idea that the writer would like to learn more Spanish words. Giving the meaning is hence worthless-- there's no real danger that a reader would think the writer is lying if the writer were to assert knowledge of the meaning of that word.

Nor is listing color words specifically going to help the idea's expression either. If the writer would mainly like to learn color words, that is omitted though weakly implied by the list in the second example. If there is no main thrust in that direction, then listing the colors gives the wrong idea.

If the idea is that the writer would like to learn color words, express that clearly, or any other desired categories of knowledge. If the idea is to achieve basic speaking proficiency, state that, perhaps referring to a basic-word list for the language if one exists.

Here are some possibilities:

I would like to learn more Spanish vocabulary, for example names of common colors.

I would like to learn more basic Spanish words, as right now I only know the meaning of "rojo".

I would like to achieve basic speaking proficiency in Spanish, starting with simple vocabulary such as color nouns.

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I specified journal to emphasis that the example would be written for personal use. The definition would act simple as a reminder to the writer. My primary question is how to properly introduce the definition. – William Campos Jan 13 '13 at 21:53

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