This topic has been discussed many times but I haven’t found a good solution, so here I’m giving my ideas.
I’m learning a language and the more words I add to Anki, the more synonyms I accumulate. For example,
spinal column, spine, backbone > позвоночник, позвоночный столб, хребет
Here I have 3 English synonyms and 3 Russian synonyms which all mean the same. Please don’t discuss these words because they are just an example. I understand that some synonyms may have a little different meanings. This post is not about these words but about an approach for memorizing synonyms.
Until now I tried to remember all synonyms as a list, so when Anki shows to me
spinal column, spine, backbone
I tried to remember all 3 synonyms in Russian:
позвоночник, позвоночный столб, хребет
If I could not remember even one of them, I rated my answer as wrong.
As a result, memorizing many such cards with lists of synonyms has become difficult and boring. Even if I remember a list of synonyms, I quickly forget it. So, my interval for such cards increases slowly and often returns to zero. I also cannot rate my answer as a good one if I remember only 1 of synonyms, because it will mean that I memorize only some of the words and will not be able to recognize other synonyms when I encounter them in text or speech.
Now I want to change my approach. I will determine main synonyms:
main: spinal column, other: spine, backbone
main: позвоночник, other: позвоночный столб, хребет
Then I will have separate cards for each synonym in each language in order to remember them all and be able to recognize them in the future:
spinal column > позвоночник
spine > позвоночник
backbone > позвоночник
позвоночник > spinal column
позвоночный столб > spinal column
хребет > spinal column
As you can see, defining main synonyms simplifies memorization because I will need to recollect only 1 word instead of 3.
The question is: How do I input synonyms in Anki and how do I design cards?
Can I keep all synonyms in one field as a list:
spinal column, spine, backbone
and then create a card type which will extract 3 parts of that field content one by one to generate three cards?
If yes, maybe I can use some separators to instruct how I want the list to be split into cards. For instance, I could use semicolons to separate synonyms and the 1st synonym in the list will be the main synonym:
spinal column; spine; backbone
Normally when you design a card in Anki, it extracts all content from a field. Is it possible to extract only a part of content of a field? If it’s not possible now, maybe somebody can make an add-on?
If it’s still impossible, it seems I will have to create many extra fields for synonyms and create many card types for all those fields. Then I will need to separate the list into several fields:
English main synonym: spinal column
English synonym 2: spine
English synonym 3: backbone
English synonym 4: (reserved for potential synonym)
English synonym 5: (reserved for potential synonym)
Russian main synonym: позвоночник
Russian synonym 2: позвоночный столб
Russian synonym 3: хребет
Russian synonym 4: (reserved for potential synonym)
Russian synonym 5: (reserved for potential synonym)
In this example, where I assume that each concept can have up to 5 synonyms, I will have 10 fields for 2 languages and 10 card types. So many fields will not be convenient and will not look nice in card browser, editor and Add dialog screens. Therefore, I would prefer to record synonyms in one field as a list and use separators between them.
PS: I first posted this in reddit, but reddit does not even have Subscribe feature, so this forum is better. I will delete this post in reddit.