Sunday, February 23, 2014

To some valid points by Alexander Arguelles on Polyglottery or Succesful Language Acquisition, Responses not Retorts

ProfASAr : The Price of Polyglottery: The Case for Establishing a Polyglot Institute

I am:

  • naturally bilingual or if you prefer monolingual but bidialectal: Swedish and German both being Germanic langs;
  • since then bilingual polyglot in Germanic and Latin in a polydialectic way, including obviously the hybrid dialect I am writing now;
  • ex-language teacher. Videlicet German teacher in a Swedish school.

I think there are very many counterproductive attitudes to language learning about. One result for myself was losing my job pretty quickly. Being a "grammar Nazi" is something other than being a Nazi, even if one is it about "de Cherman lanquich", and asking pupils to learn paradigms by heart is not even the same thing as being a grammar Nazi.

But since the disestablishment of Latin in schools, since 1970's new experiments in paedagogy (at least as received in the popular mindset), since confusion of two meanings of the word "discipline" (as (a) attentive attitude making you likely to pick up and let other pupils pick up what the teacher is saying, (b) military discipline making you obey orders without thinking first), language learning has suffered greatly on the least subtle and most obvious tricks of the trade, like presenting paradigms. I even shortened the paradigm geometrically to show overlapping forms (masculine and neuter in one grid, feminine and plural in one, obviously without separate accusative, but with a nom-acc, unlike the other one, every form coinciding written as between the two) and I was treated as if I was basically a Nazi carrying out the experiment shown in The Wave ... or a sadistic Latin teacher (that social stereotype has a vogue in Swedish thanks to one film, I think by Bergman and I do not mean Ingrid) ... THAT makes dupes inept by setting jambes crochées for themselves and non-dupes impopular.

The other price is of course not recalling what a thing is called in the language you are using. "Jambe crochée", "krokben", in Scanian "fälleben", what was that in English once again? It is not as if I had not learned it, I read the word or phrase in The Last Battle by CSL. As I mentioned that guy, he was my initial motive or a great part of it, for becoming adept in English and in Latin. Plus my try at Greek.

Actually wanted to know if you had taken a look at the language which has a phrase like "Nu NINDA-an ezzateni vadarma ekuteni" or something. That was why I looked you up again.

Yes, I have it, there was one more cost and a more constant one.

Learning a language means a childish, if you excuse the word, preoccupation with minute details of expression. "How does one say that please?" is a phrase which certain people wanting to be taken as grownups do not want to ask.

And saying in English "jambe crochée" or in French "putting the cart before the horse" (I learnt at a "great price", socially speaking, it is "mettre la charrue devant les boeufs") is likely to get you stamped as odd.

Getting stamped as childish or odd is not a price many want to pay.

To bear it, one has to have a lack of empathy for that particular reaction, which nowadays when diagnoses like Asperger and Autism are around may cost a lot socially as well.

To return to the language teaching situation, refusing paradigms of cases is like someone wanting to learn the guitar refusing to learn chords and frets because they don't do that on the piano.

08:44 I know what you mean. When I was a successful polyglot, my composition was often on level of rearranging phrases in extant folk music or baroque music. Like shuffling La Folia turns around turns from Six Ribbons theme (a k a Against the Winds). And my 20:th C. history was very neglected (except for Spanish Civil War, where I took the right side, pun so right on both levels). And I was not yet writing on the internet either.

Writing a novel on top of your to do list?

Mine is not ready yet, took a few hints from "How to Write and Sell a Novel" by forgot his name again, particularly the hint about skin and bones prose and fleshing out, which I am not using, and the hint about adding in between what you have already written. If all chapters in beginning are from late 2011 and all in the very middle or maybe near end from 2014, the novel will show discrepancies of style. But if you begin 2011 with four chapters including first and nearly second and then the last and all up to 2014 you consistently add chapters in between, for one thing ideas will come up in function of what your characters want to achieve afterwards, in later chapters and for another thing discrepancies of style will not give clear breaks but be evenly uneven.

Shall we see who of us gets ready first?

Chronicle of Susan Pevensie 1949-56

(fan fiction on CSL, JRRT, Enid Blyton, GKC, Conan Doyle, Hannah and Barbera, by now 70 something short chapters).

You will find me weird, I am ten times more of a linguaphile than a polyglot.

[For those not having seen the video : a linguaphile collects encyclopedic knowledge about languages, like how many cases they have, who spoke them, if extinct, and so on, a polyglot collects functioning mastering of language competence in the languages he collects.]

Ha, autodidactic study habits, got me there ... getting into Dutch, Danish, Braid Scots, Galego ... ok, but when it came to Latin and Greek, I needed a classroom to get the work done, exactly as with instrument playing I have not got the work done yet.

LOL, at the volunteering polyglot mentioning French!

- Qu'est-ce que tu appelles qqn qui parle deux langues?
- Un bilingue.
- Quelqu'un qui parle trois langues?
- Trilingue.
- Quelqu'un qui parle quatre/cinq/six/plusieurs langues (whenever you get short of composites in numeral plus -lingue or whenever he realises you won't and goes directly for "many")?
- Un polyglotte.
- Et alors, quelqu'un qui ne parle qu'une langue?
- Un monoglotte?
- Non, un français!

Meaning French society has some of these machist attitudes I mentioned and it does work out against language learning.

All respect to shadowing, but I have not used it and still gone some way, the things that helped me were:

  • getting the accent right (although my English standard varies between British, US and Oz, and my attempts at Irish accent may sound more Scottish than Irish), by repeating after, by paying attention to the sound (exactly as when singing "Muß i' denn" after hearing Elvis' version, though singing along is obviously closer to your shadowing, I am more like interiorly humming along and afterwards ...), does help to feel like a native speaker even if I am not, this is one area where Swedish language study techniques may even have improved and have not deteriorated between ma's and my own experience of them;
  • using paradigms, as said. If Romans and Thracians used the paradigm of typto when learning Greek and Greeks and Gauls the paradigm of amo when learning Latin, there might just be some kind of utility with it, since the technique lasted for centuries and Greek in West and Latin in Byzantium did not deteriorate until it was positively neglected.
  • Playing around with possibilities does help, I think.

    I suppose back in Rome a teacher might have said:

    "Si dico loco 'scripsi' ita 'scripsam', capisne?"
    "Vis alludere Graecis eorumque 'egrapsa', puto."
    "Recte. Si nunc dico 'scripsans, scripsantis'?"
    "Possumus Graece talem formam facere?"
    "Possumus. Et quidem 'grapsas, grapsâsa, grapsan; grapsantos, grapsáses, grapsantos' ..."

    Or in another, possibly earlier lesson:

    "Typtomenos est participium passivum praesentis ..."
    "Ita, nonne, ut 'verberatus'?"
    "Magis ita ut 'vapulans'."

    I recall the irritation of one Björn when I called him Beorn, but I do not suppose he made it to my level of language skills. Or the irritation of one Granhäll when I called him Granelli ... I do not think he made it to my level of language skills either. A bit grammar Nazis (for real) when it came to their names, and of course they had a right to be. But I thoroughly enjoyed playing around with "how would this sound transposed to that dialect" kind of questions.

  • Having prestigious texts around does help (I remember how I looked forward to reading from the Aeneid) when it comes to initial acquisition. When it comes to upkeep, I recommend having an interest in texts that can not be found in translation. Like St Thomas Aquinas' commentary on Romans (I was in for 1:20 and took Rufinus' translation of Origen as well).
  • Making the translations shadow original language rather than be correct Swedish. Or whatever language is used in class if it is one's native one. (Making a translation idiomatic is a great lesson in the language one is translating too. One point that stuck was that Latin must not be a calque of Swedish original text, but must not avoid the expression types it has in common with Swedish either, neither avoiding nor exaggerating the unswedishness of it, and same with Greek).
  • Nearly forgot: using phonetics to see like "uge" as a variation on "Woche", "vecka" or "rex" as a variation on "regs" or ... you see what I mean.

    I might have exaggerated my confidence (and so may a lot of other language students) in PIE theory and sound laws just because they are so useful for learning in this respect.

    "athair"? Piece of cake. "pateer" > *"ateer" > *"atiir" > *"athiir" > "athir" >"ahir" (with h still spelled as th)

    Why "athair" rather than **"aithir"? Probably because of forms in "patr- ..." (where no ee > ii intervenes between t and r)

    See what I mean? That does not automatically mean all langs with any reconstructed PIE forms reflected in sufficient quantity to be considered IE langs actually descend from a real PIE lang with the word "pateer" in it. But assuming that gives you this memnotechnic and transpositional bit for free, and that might be why it is often assumed.

  • As you mentioned yourself: being an inquisitive linguaphile about languages you are not yet actually learning.

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