Language and mind

June 10, 2012

Apples grow on noses: two languages – two minds?

Filed under: language, language processing, language use, psycholinguistics — teresapelka @ 12:18 pm

Two minds_Speaking a second language can change everything from problem-solving skills to personality. It is almost as if you are two people, says Catherine de Lange. Her report raises ethical concerns.

We can read ‘Mon espirit paratage — My two minds’, in The New Scientist of May 5th, 2012. Ms. de Lange compares monolingual and bilingual children. The Washington Post forwards her article.

Both monolinguals and bilinguals could see the mistake in phrases such as ‘apples growed on trees’, but differences arose when they considered nonsensical sentences such as ‘apples grow on noses’. The monolinguals, flummoxed by the silliness of the phrase, incorrectly reported an error, whereas the bilinguals gave the right answer, says Ms. de Lange.

The experiment looks biased. Most children get fairy tales. It does not matter, if the kid speaks one, two, or more languages. It it important the child comprehends the language in which he or she can hear there was a kingdom, a long time ago, where apples grew on noses.Apples

NosesReal-life, you can tell a nose from a nose, regardless of the language. And you can tell apples.

The children would have had to be misled on the objective: whether they were to tell the syntax or the pragmatics. Talking the science, the task was deictically misconstrued, if the account is real. Both children groups could have been wrong or right. Bilingual children know that apples do not literally grow on noses. Monolingual children know a plural noun takes a plural verb.

How could we tBimoesell syntactic skills? The way we can regularly teach, without experimenting, or telling monolingual people from bilingual people. We use virtual words.

Kids can get it easy. We can show a child  a car, a ball, a doll, and a troll. They are all things. We can name those things. We can say they’re our phimoes. Children make up virtual words often and spontaneously. We can use this for grammar, compare here.

We can show that a car rolls, a doll dances, a troll hops and jumps, and a ball bounces. All phimoes bimo — things can do characteristic things. We can play with the kid and talk. This phimo bimoes like that. That phimo is not bimoing now. It would not be long, before a kid could tell easy, if we are correct saying, The phimo bimo now. :)

Importantly, there would not be any bias about the child’s background, ancestry, or languages. I could never agree that bilingualism confuses. I would not try to turn it into a special wit, on the other hand. Speaking more than one language is just an everyday thing to me.

The bilingual or multilingual side does not bring neglect to word meaning. The account above wouldBread suggest that bilingual kids do not mind if something is real or true, and look to syntax only.

PainMs. de Lange says she speaks English and French. All languages have their spellings and sound shapes. Naturally, we can think about pain and bread. In French, un pain is bread.

Obviously, the boy is not eating any pain, whether he speaks French or not. Boy eating bread

He is eating real bread. Other stories could be only sick. Whether you speak French or not, seriously sick. Mal a l’oreille. ;)

Either the experiment or the account had to be prejudiced. There are other ethical concerns. Ms. de Lange reports infant scans for experimental purposes.  I do not see much sense in such scanning. Most importantly, you cannot obtain informed consent from an infant. Washington Post has more.

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