Thursday, August 10, 2023

Just in Case

The question as such might have nothing to do with me, but my hunch is it had. I never pretended to have expertise on neurolinguistics.

Can someone have trouble speaking their native language because of brain damage or something similar?

Hans-Georg Lundahl
none/ apprx Masters in Latin (language) & Greek (language), Lund University
St. Lawrence, deacon and martyr

But before you go off a tangent asking someone if I have so, how about checking whether speach and spelling are the same thing, and whether the spelling I use is one previously used for Swedish speech (it is, it was in common use in 1850, and preferring it over the now common spelling is no different from preferring OED over Merriam when it comes to English spelling).

I make four distinct and understandable deviations from the modern standard of writing (demarcations 1. in early 19th C nationalism, spelling “kusin” for “cousin/e”, “boett” for “boîte”, probably “dubbel” for “double”, though we still prefer “juice” over “jos”, when the loan came in later, 2. 1870’s standardising the sound of è into ä, where previously that had been an exception and e the standard, 3. 1906 spelling reform affected more sounds than that, 4. 1950, plural forms were abolished for verbs).

ALSO check if some people tend to make long sentences with lots of asides (as in fact I do) and if long sentences with lots of asides tend to seem ungrammatical to some (who have a shorter attention span in reading).

ALSO check if the ones claiming I have trouble with Swedish are foreigners, who having learned Swedish spelling as adults who therefore are challenged at identifying Swedish spelled in other ways.

ALSO check if they are ideological modernists and nationalists who would tend to say “this is how we do things” or “this is how things are done now” - they are the very guys I am trying to show my dislike for by doing it. The former objection could be stated “but this is SWEDEN” (guess why I left it!) and the latter as “but this is the 21st C” (guess why I tend to hate it).

ALSO check as simple a thing as whether they associate an earlier Swedish spelling with a current Danish or Norwegian one, because they are identical (hvad, af) or comparable (rödt / rødt).

ALSO check as simple a thing as whether they are med or psych personnel rather than linguists who shouldn’t be trying to assess someone’s language capacity from his writing anyway. And if they reply “he shouldn’t be writing so only linguists understand” the fact is lots of non-linguists understand as well, including some who have pretended not to (proof : they have responded to the argument I made, not to a different one).

There is another case for not speaking one’s native language too, and that’s what happens when from childhood you are for decades no longer exposed to it. That happened to my sister, one of them. Not to me.

For my part, I have no trouble speaking Swedish, I have trouble to find Swedes I’d like to speak Swedish to. Those I correspond with over the internet have no difficulty in understanding what I say.

And before you make a disclaimer “the question was not about you” - why did you pose it to me? I never pretended to be a neurolinguist or an expert on medical conditions impairing language (or any other medical conditions that I haven’t had myself).

EDIT : one more. Check if they are under the superstition that a Google translate they use is giving a fair rendering of my Swedish grammar. Obviously, how I write Swedish makes it somewhat more difficult for google translate or bing or babelfish … and those are also useless even with standard forms when the grammar is too complicated with subsidiary clauses. I see it as an asset to discourage the use of online translators by people who do not know the language, when I do so myself, I tend to make double checks.

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