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

The New Scientist of May 5th, 2012 provides an article by Catherine de Lange, ‘Mon espirit paratage – My two minds’.

Speaking a second language can change everything from problem-solving skills to personality. It is almost as if you are two people, the author quotes an experiment to compare the cognitive progression in monolingual and bilingual children.

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.

Monolingual as well as bilingual children can learn Language mapping.

Dynamic mapping

Well, monolingual kids usually get fairy tales. If you tell a monolingual kid that a long, long time ago, there was a kingdom where apples grew on noses, the child gets it easy. Not only bilingual kids operate abstract notions, and no kids have their vocabularies for lexicons of empty items.

For example, a kid speaking English and French will not have pain for bread, whatever to say about his or her syntax. More, any attempts at negotiation could look only sick. Seriously sick. Mal a l’oreille.

Children naturally use invented, virtual words. See the Gumption set.

River of time

To appreciate children’s syntactic abilities, we need to use empty lexical items. For example, Phimos bimoes, right or wrong? Kids knowing the singular, Phimo, and the infinitive, to bimo, would not be likely to show differences, monolingual or bilingual. Bilingualism is not a dissociative disorder.

Feel welcome to visit my grammar blog, travelingrammar.com. My project uses virtual lexical items to encourage syntactic progression. Virtual items do not deny sense: Form can’t be empty. You bet. A todas luces.

Important: the project is not an experiment.

April 28, 2012

Burning the Flag – where is the language?

Filed under: language, language processing, language use, law, psycholinguistics — teresapelka @ 10:46 am

Having earned a legal badge with EzineArticles should not make one overconfident, I realize. The legal profession is a depth of recondite detail the Supreme Court has the right firmly to deliberate. The linguist I am, I yet can venture a few observations — and this has been quoting freedom of speech to invalidate prohibitions on desecrating the American flag.

United States versus Eichman, United States versus Haggerty, Texas versus Johnson: all cases argued violation of free speech under the First Amendment. Haggerty’s case would have the implication to make the Flag necessarily your piece of cloth before burning. It is when the Flag belongs to an institution like Seattle’s Capitol Hill Post Office that you get fined. ;)

Let me think. I imagine a person burns something. Is there a speech sound produced, should the human just silently sit by a campfire, warming his or her hands? Is there any written or printed stretch of language to emerge from the flame? Should one try to interpret the wood or coal crackling and hissing as stanzas, quatrains, epodes? Could we hear the anacrusis?

I could not, and there is nothing wrong with my hearing. Things do not produce language. Facts remain similar with hammers, saws, wrenches, screwdrivers, and whatever a handyman’s bag might contain: there is no speech produced with the use, unless the guy is eloquent, interesting, and whatsoever handsome — however noisy the job. ;)

Non-verbal acts cannot convey speech and language. The Flag itself – the many the people, the many the answers; ask someone what the Flag looks like and what it symbolizes: no description will be identical, owing to language specifics.

The Supreme Court decided the Flag could be burned under the First Amendment. It does not allow abridgment of free speech. If a burning object could be legally a speech act, what do you do if you see the Flag burning on a barrel saying ‘TNT’ – would putting it out be against the law? ;)

The Flag Code may be found here,

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Flag_Code,

http://www.usflag.org/uscode36.html,

http://www.senate.gov/reference/resources/pdf/RL30243.pdf, and many other places.

I do honestly believe that flags are for people and, naturally, their use should not be forbidden. I have put an image of the American flag on my grammar book covers. For one thing, I like it: I think the flag is visually attractive. More, the grammar is not a temporary idea. :)

View this document on Scribd

May 11, 2011

Larry Selinker’s interlanguage – Emily Dickinson and Mark Twain didn’t have it right?

Filed under: language, language processing, language use — Tags: , , — teresapelka @ 9:54 am

Naturally, I do not postulate error about the two authors. Should there have been misconduct somewhere on the way — the reader may individually judge. ;)

Larry Selinker, a professor emeritus of linguistics, developed his theory  of  ‘interlanguage’ or ‘third language’ in 1972. The hypothesis is that people who learn English after another tongue, learn English as a second language. A ‘latent psychological structure’ becomes woken in the brain, when a human learns a second language, says Mr. Selinker.

                      Regardless of the perspective — monolingual, multilingual, first or second language learning — all Englishes of the world have 4 Aspects, Simple, Progressive, Perfect, and Perfect Progressive. Try Aspect mapping.

Aspect mapping

Language theories should not be made merely to give lectures. Let us think how Larry Selinker’s theory could hold in life.

Eduardo was born in America, in an immigrant Hispanic family. He spoke mostly Spanish before he went to school: his parents spoke Spanish and his little friends in the town area he lived were all Spanish. Mr. Selinker would have Spanish for Eduardo’s first tongue.

Mr. Selinker built his hypothesis on studies of student errors. His interlanguage theory says people idiosyncratically make rules from language experience.

An idiosyncrasy may be a structural or behavioral characteristic peculiar to an individual or group, a physiological or temperamental peculiarity, or an unusual individual reaction to food or a drug.  The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. 

Let us compare the relaxed perspective by a notable author, Mark Twain: And if I sell to the reader this volume of nonsense, and he, instead of seasoning his graver reading with a chapter of it now and then, when his mind demands such relaxation, unwisely overdoses himself with several chapters of it at a single sitting, he will deserve to be nauseated, and he will have nobody to blame but himself if he is. ;)

Mark Twain’s Speeches by Mark Twain, Project Gutenberg

 

Mark Twain caricature,  published in Vanity Fair, May 13 1908. Author: Leslie Ward.Caption: “Below the Mark”. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Now, Eduardo is 20. He never wanted to stay in the small town. He has worked and learned hard. He wants to do an IT degree. He does elliptic integrals easy, but he would need a dictionary to translate math from English to Spanish — he learned math at school, in English-speaking classes.

It is not only math that Eduardo does not comprehend in Spanish. His girlfriend is an American. American English is the only language she has ever spoken. She is a real treasure and a natural for a good conversation. When Eduardo tells his sweetheart he loves her, he says it in English and he means it.

Stative mappingIf grammars tell people to say I love, they tell them to say I hate, too — and that just to follow the rules some people made a few hundreds of years ago.

I am hating you could sound milder.

It could be more to the fact.

See Stative mapping.

Ai-li also was born in America, in a family of second-generation Chinese immigrants. She has always been for languages. Before she went to school, she learned American along with Chinese. She started to learn German and French when she was about seven years old.

Ai-li is writing a thesis about spatial reference in German and French — her two ‘second languages’ or her ‘third-second languages’? Should American count as the second, German and French could count as the third or fourth, but actually she has learned the languages at the same time … ;)

Both Eduardo and Ai-li are made up figures, but they are absolutely possible in modern America. Larry Selinker would imply abnormal mental realities about both whereas they could easily communicate with one another, as well as with other people.

Mr. Selinker says second language learners show simplification, circumlocution, and overgeneralization, and that owing to latent psychological structures in the brain. Well, it is always the skin to be the skin. A second skin is just a way of saying things.

The brain is a physical structure to have no purely ‘functional’, ‘mathematical’ or, ‘psychological’ connectivities. There are no ‘latent’ brain areas in unimpeded humans. If you want to have a ‘latent’ brain region, you have to ask someone to hit you on the head and do it real hard. ;)

To be serious, the human language faculty is neural. The way we internalize language knowledge depends on the way we conceptualize language facts, whatever the language or languages we learn.

It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, American President

Get in the Relativity loop.

Relativity loop

Second language learners produce utterances different from those by other people, says Mr. Selinker. Let us think, is this different? ;)

 THE BRAIN.

The brain is wider than the sky,
For, put them side by side,
The one the other will include
With ease, and you beside.

The brain is deeper than the sea,
For, hold them, blue to blue,
The one the other will absorb,
As sponges, buckets do.

The brain is just the weight of God,
For, lift them, pound for pound,
And they will differ, if they do,
As syllable from sound.

Source: Project Gutenberg

Emily Dickinson daguerreotype; source: Wikimedia Commons

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