DailyDirt: Learning A Foreign Language

from the urls-we-dig-up dept

Apparently, Japanese is the most difficult foreign language for native English speakers to learn. Not only does it have different written and spoken codes, it also has three different writing systems. Furthermore, Japanese syntax is left branching, which is the complete opposite of English syntax, which is right branching. Learning a foreign language is never easy (although some people seem to have an easier time than others), but it’s not impossible with enough time and effort put into it. Here are a few more links about learning foreign languages.

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Comments on “DailyDirt: Learning A Foreign Language”

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Niall (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Klingon?!

I actually know the guy (online, if it’s who I think he is) and he is a decent-enough guy. I haven’t read the article yet (blocked at work) but I know the circumstances at the time. Your argument fails on the grounds that saying that ANYONE teaching their children a foreign language at home might be considered child abuse. Seriously, would you tell a Sri Lankan couple they couldn’t use Tamil at home (in the US) as that’s “child abuse”? Kid soak up language, and they easily pick up the dominant language around them the moment they start school or pre-school. As someone with a foreign-speaking wife (and son) I am quite familiar with how kids with foreign-born parents actually end up as perfect speakers of the local language.

Now, obviously Klingon is of limited use in the ‘real world’ outside of fun and academic study (yes, as a constructed language it has genuine academic applications). However, in this case because the language is actually quite limited in vocabulary (less so in grammar), the child quite rapidly outstripped the ability to express everyday things in it – it’s all very well being able to order someone to fire photon torpedoes, but if you can’t even ask for a glass of (cow’s) (milk) then the average three-year-old will start to use another language – which is what happened here. So it was an interesting experiment, nothing more. [‘Official’ Klingon was created by one man, Marc Okrand, and relies on his very occasional addition of vocabulary and grammar, so misses much ‘everyday’ lanaguage.]

And by the way, plenty of studies have shown that multi-lingual kids have much better language abilities when older, so it’s unlikely to have actually harmed him.

Anonymous Coward says:

A father spoke to his son in only Klingon for the first three years of his life. He was apparently interested in whether his kid, who was just going through his first language acquisition process, would pick up Klingon just like any human language. And, yes, the kid did start to learn it.

Guess who is destined to wear a ‘kick me’ sign for his entire scholastic career. Great parenting.

Joe says:

I speak conversational Japanese and it’s incredibly easy. The words all use a very standard set of vowel / consonants and once you learn those, you can pronounce anything. To-Shi-Ba. Nin-Ten-Do. To-Yo-Ta. Boom. One afternoon and you can correctly pronounce any Japanese word. Language structure is super logical.

Two of the three alphabet’s are also silly simple. Hiragana and Katakana only have about 100 characters total can be memorized in a few days of practice. Especially with mnemonic devices.

The 3rd alphabet – Kanji – is just scary. It basically looks like Chinese and you will spend the rest of your life trying to learn it.

Any of the tonal languages like Thai, Viet, Burmese, Chinese are far and away worse to communicate in than Japanese. And of course, I had to marry a Hong Kong girl and now every time I try to speak Cantonese, it’s followed by confusion, and my wife repeating the ‘exact same words’ and people going ‘aaaahh’.

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