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. If you'd like to read more awesome and interesting stuff, check out this unrelated (but not entirely random!) Techdirt post via StumbleUpon.

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(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 25th, 2013 @ 5:43pm


    That sounds like child abuse....

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 25th, 2013 @ 6:01pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 25th, 2013 @ 6:02pm

    Re: Klingon?!

    Everything is child abuse today.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. icon
    Jay (profile), Mar 25th, 2013 @ 6:13pm

    Ok, Japanese is not the hardest language for westerners.

    That would be Arabic. Although Japanese is really difficult as well, I'll admit. It takes a lot to learn both languages and having at least four years of Japanese, I can say that it is rather difficult to even read the news when you barely know enough kanji from the papers.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. icon
    hester (profile), Mar 25th, 2013 @ 6:29pm


    Chinese is heartbreakingly difficult. I'm trying to learn it now (just started). LInk for why it's so damn hard: http://pinyin.info/readings/texts/moser.html

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Joe, Mar 25th, 2013 @ 6:58pm

    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'.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. icon
    That One Guy (profile), Mar 25th, 2013 @ 11:09pm

    Re: Re: Klingon?!

    Actually in this case the accusation seems to be quite fitting. By doing what he did, the kid's father basically royally screwed up the kid's ability to socialize as a child, which is the point where they are first learning how to socialize, something that is likely to have lifelong effects.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. icon
    Ilmārs Cīrulis (profile), Mar 26th, 2013 @ 2:11am

    Imho, this link much better explains that the father wasn't a sadistical monster.

    http://gizmodo.com/5408022/man-spoke-only-klingon-to-his-son-for-three-years-and-wrote-u s-a-letter

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. icon
    RyanNerd (profile), Mar 26th, 2013 @ 5:00am

    Heghlu'meH QaQ jajvam


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. icon
    crashsuit (profile), Mar 26th, 2013 @ 9:13am



    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. icon
    RyanNerd (profile), Mar 26th, 2013 @ 12:16pm

    Navajo may be the hardest for everyone

    I have a friend his name is Robert Yellowhorse (I'm not making this up).

    He told me that most of the dinner conversations he had at home were arguments over the meaning of words.

    No wonder the allies used Navajo to stump the Germans.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. icon
    Niall (profile), Mar 27th, 2013 @ 4:53am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. icon
    Niall (profile), Mar 27th, 2013 @ 4:57am


    Bravo, some good comments there. If he were teaching the kid Navajo (in the UK) or Swahili, would the be so much moaning?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. icon
    Niall (profile), Mar 27th, 2013 @ 4:58am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Klingon?!

    Ok, I was able to read the article below, and I do know the guy, and remember him talking about this at the time.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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