Friday, November 17, 2017

Three Misconceptions About Language (quora)

There are two Classics, namely, one, it being desirable to replace all languages with one, and possible to design it so all the best of the known ones is reflected in it and so each learner has a fairly equal difficulty or ease, two, that since babies don't use dictionairies or grammars when acquiring their native language at long last very fluently, we can as learners of foreign languages (any L we don't learn in childhood, including your own national one, if you didn't learn it as a child) do better than with grammars and dictionaries, by doing it like the babies.

There is one other, third, that is, which either might be more recent (having its roots in psychiatric speculation) or more recently voiced to me, but can have been Classic among monoglotts who refuse to learn languages a long time before I heard about it : if you are bilingual, or so they think, you don't switch between two languages when thinking. You do. That is why one Roman who knew Latin, Greek and Carthaginian said he was thinking with three hearts. This is a perfelctly normal process.

Here are the details:

How can children learn their native language so quickly and how can we take advantage of that to learn a foreign language?

Hans-Georg Lundahl
I speak two langs, Latin and Germanic. In a few dialects.
Answered just now
  • Why can children learn a language so quick? (Q says "their native language", but even two or three languages are native in this sense, not just the one of the parents)

It is not all that quick, a good language pedagogy can make you learn a language very well in 1 year, and the children take to age 5 to 7 before being good at the grammar.

If you mean, however, the quickness of picking up a general useful comprehension and communication skill?

Because they are socially not obliged to avoid mistakes. You make a mistake past childhood age, like "gay and frolic" in the meaning it has in The Silver Chair in a sentence by Puddleglum, and using that after 1970, it can have dire consequences for years (if you mind being taken for a homosexual which I do, since such a rumour dies very hard, even if untrue). But nearly any mistake a child can make will be laughed at and repaired almost instantaneously, and so many people are more than happy to teach their child language skills, which is not the case with adult strangers.

  • How can we take advantage of that to learn a foreign language?

Well, you can take advantage of it by realising that immersion without structured lessons is likely to take you too long time and lead you into too bad situations first, and therefore you avoid the "nature method" and take up a grammar and a word list and a sample text with scope chosen to have simple grammar and start there.

Many languages are known and well studied. How would one with this knowledge design a new "optimal" language that would replace all other languages? What concepts would it contain?

Hans-Georg Lundahl
I speak two langs, Latin and Germanic. In a few dialects.
Answered 1h ago
The replacing process would not be optimal.

Also, any designed language for this purpose would be more optimal for some regions than for others, for instance Esperanto while not quite optimal in Europe, is much less optimal in East Asia.

Your question shows a severe lack of understanding of human languages.

There are “vocabulary” concepts like for any concept man studies, and they can be imported into any language. I am not sure why Latin writers or anyone else would want a word like “discrimination”, “discriminate” but if you want it, “discrimen” and “discrimen facere” are at your hand. Even if it was a concept not used in Classical times.

As to grammatical concepts, all languages can express them, but some do express some concepts in vocabulary rather than in grammatical terms.

Chinese and Japanese do have ways to express the plural - just a bit more roundabout than the normal habit of leaving this unexpressed.

“three samurai come riding” means in the following “samurai” is likely to mean all three of them, except for actions where this is impossible, and even there, like “cut off king’s head” it would mean one of the three, doesn’t matter which one.

But if they do want to express it, they can, however, one of several plurals, like the “few” plural, the “some” plural and the “many” plural.

That is what I think I know about East Asiatic linguistics.

I mean, you seem to be as badly handicapped about language as believers in Artificial Intelligence are about mind.

If you speak English and Arabic, would you think in Arablish?

Hans-Georg Lundahl
Self Employed at Writer and Composer
Answered 49m ago

If you speak English and Arabic, you would think sometimes in Arabic, sometimes in English.

Obviously, your English might be somewhat “Arablish” in including a stray word or phrase here or there from Arabic, and your Arabic might be somewhat “Arablish” in including a stray phrase or word from English here and there, but that is not a necessity.

Btw, “Arablish” is not always incorrect, in English you do use the word “Shariah”, and in the Arabic of Malta, at least, you use inch, borrowed as “insh”, plural “unush”.

Some monolinguals think that bilinguals also think as monolinguals, and then adapt speech by wearisome translation from their supposed monolingual and inbetween thought language. This is simply not the case.

Edit : I do not speak any Arabic language, even if I took a look at tutorials in Maltese and in Lebanese / Syrian colloquial Arabic, but I can tell by parallel from other language combinations.

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