Apples grow on noses: two languages – 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.

 

“Mon espirit paratage — My two minds”, appeared in The New Scientist of May 5th, 2012. Ms. de Lange compares monolingual and bilingual children. Washington Post has her article.

 

Ms. de Lange describes her testing children on syntax. Syntax is about the way we phrase our talk or writing.

 

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 or multilingual, children get to hear or read fairy tales. It does not matter, if the kid speaks one or more languages. It is important that the child comprehends the words, there was a fairy land, a long time ago, where apples grew on noses.

 

Children learn early that words can have more than one meaning. Figurative thinking does not disturb syntax. Whether in one or many languages ― but dependent on pragmatics ― we could or could not count any noses in picture 1. The Big Apple Corner in picture 2 only might have apples.

 

Language pragmatics deals with talk in context and work with ambiguity.

Noses

Picture 1. Is there even one nose in the picture, if we do not know what noses count?

Apples

Picture 2. Do apples grow square, if we have Big Apple Corners?

 

Thinking the science, the task was most probably deictically misconstrued. The children did not know what noses the talk was about, and thus if to tell the syntax or the pragmatics.

 

Ms. de Lange says she speaks English and French. If we were to follow Ms. de Lange and interpret her test results for a difference between monolingual versus multilingual mentality, we would risk un mal de tête, a headache.

We would have to imagine monolingual people as unable to take a figure of speech, and carrying shields instead of umbrellas, for heavy rain.

We would have to dread multilingual medics, fearing they would be the people to take cardiac cases for just a matter of opinion

Pain

Obviously and fortunately, no such headache naturally can come.

 

Further, both English and French have spoken and written forms. What we write as bread in English is un pain in French.

Boy eating bread

To a child, a test to neglect semantics might be un mal a l’oreille.

Word forms as bread or pain would not have to be in the test. Also in little children, brains entire work for language tasks.

 

Frontal lobes help keep the goal in mind. Temporal lobes tend to word sound, and occipital to word shape. Parietal lobes associate this all ― with the lexicon. Words for physical sensations and food are the basic vocabulary.

 

Ambiguity may provoke “surfing” the language form, especially if the limbic system would detect some emotional discord. When we ignore word sense, go asemantic, distinction between languages becomes much smaller. Pain or bread become mere forms, disagreeable to be mistaken in one language. The forms yet still might be singular or plural, dependent on syntax.

 

The “surfing” is not a developmental stage. Monolingual or multilingual, very young or more advanced in age, it is enough to learn to “surf”.

 

To work on syntax, we can use virtual or invented words ― regardless of age. Interestingly enough, we might get no “difference in mentality” between monolingual or multilingual people. We might not confirm Ms. de Lange results.

 

VIRTUAL WORDS2

Virtual words have an advantage. We can use them to exercise speech sounds without the flummoxing that verbal associations might bring.

 

[th] is the sound in mother;

[th] is the sound in father

[th] is the sound in brother;

[th] is the sound in … pother 😉

 

A car rolls, a doll dances, a troll hops, and a ball bounces. Toys are things. They can be phimos. Every phimo can bimo. Before long, a kid may tell easy if we are correct saying, The phimo bimo , or if we should say, The phimo bimoes.🙂

 

Phimos can bimo.

Multilingualism is becoming an everyday thing in more and more countries and cultures. I like that.

 

I do not like bias about an ability to comprehend, speak, write, read, and communicate in more than one language. I do not like bias about people who speak one language, either. It is not true that monolingual people cannot take a figure of speech. On the other hand, it is not true that multilingualism makes one prone for nonsense.

 

The experiment by Ms. de Lange was biased. Multilingual kids were showed as disinterested in finding if something was real or true. Monolingual children were showed as unable to tell syntax.
 Multilingualism does not require a “different wit”.

 

Bread is always bread.

Multilingual people naturally “can surf”, and monolingual people naturally can learn to “surf”. Importantly, whether multilingual or monolingual, we would not “surf” for serious purposes. Work on syntax is better with virtual words, and then the number of languages might not matter at all. This is what I have for truly syntactic.

 

Another ethical and linguistic concern comes with Ms. de Lange reporting infant brain scans for experimental purposes. There is no way to obtain informed consent from an infant.

 

Read why I cannot see sense in such scans.

Burning the Flag ― where is the language?

The legal profession is a depth of recondite detail the Supreme Court has the expertise firmly to deliberate. 

Themis and the FlagFreedom of speech has been quoted to justify burning the American flag.


United States versus Eichman, United States versus Haggerty, Texas versus Johnson: all cases argued freedom of speech under the First Amendment.

Haggerty’s case would have implied you necessarily make the Flag your piece of cloth before burning. It is when the Flag belongs to an institution as Seattle Capitol Hill Post Office that you get fined.


Let us analyze the First Amendment.


Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

 

To exercise comprehension, we can paraphrase. We can say the First Amendment


forbids the Congress to regulate the matters of religion, to inhibit legal  linguistic behavior by individuals as well as groups or in the media, to delimitate people’s right to convene, or to prevent people’s formally requesting the authorities for reparation of damages.

 

The Supreme Court holding on Eichman says:


The government’s interest in preserving the flag as a symbol did not outweigh the individual right to disparage that symbol through expressive conduct.

 

The First Amendment says, the freedom of speech.

 

Linguistics does recognize symbols or icons. For example, we work with a computer. We click an icon and it takes us to a website. The icon symbolizes the website. If we associate the content, it is only when we know the website.

 

Most icons or symbols are arbitrary and there happens to be some mix-up. It is difficult to agree with Wikipedia to say,

 

Symbols take the form of words, sounds, gestures, ideas or visual images and are used to convey other ideas and beliefs.

 

Dogs are most often companions to humans and households, the other idea to be cats. Still nobody says “dog” to mean “cat”.

 

Wikipedia implies that a red octagon means “stop”, even without language.

Wikiepdia octagon

Wikipedia illustration

There could be hotel, club, or company premises on which the red octagon means “Maintenance staff only”. The reference depends on consensus.

The meaning we could express in words is not inherent to the symbol.
Stop__round For a symbol to have language in it, there has to be a written message.


Symbols are not language.
More, burning cannot be a speech act.

Is there a speech sound produced, if the human just sits silently by a campfire, warming his or her hands? Is there any written or printed language to emerge from the flame? Could the wood or coal crackling and hissing make stanzas, quatrains, epodes? Could we hear an anacrusis?


No, there is no language to come from fire.


What is the meaning of a national flag?

It symbolizes the country, the people, and the language.
The Flag does not correlate with the authorities only.

Even if you do not like anybody around, would rather live in a tent, make own clothes,  and hunt for food
― all that to liberate yourself of American capitalism ―
the nonsense of burning the Flag remains appalling, if to think about cause and effect.


There never would be  the Constitution, without the people fighting for American freedom, also in Fort McHenry, about which The Star Spangled Banner tells. The First Amendment would never have been passed, without the Constitution.

 

Flag associations 3

The First Amendment says that people have the right to the freedom of speech. The Amendment does not say,

Congress shall make no law abridging expressive conduct in association with speech and language …


Fortunately: human expressive behaviors are a very wide spectrum part of which belongs under parental guidance and is not language at all.

 

At the same time, I would not uphold the term of “Flag desecration”. The word desecration suggests abuse on sanctity.

I think flags are for people, as books and knowledge on language.

I have put images of the American flag on my American English grammar books, which are absolutely my human work.


I do not support the Supreme Court verdict. I hope time will bring the change necessary for legislation to discern physically abusive behaviors from speech and language.

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

 Solemnly, I do not and would not postulate error about the two authors.🙂

Larry Selinker, a professor of linguistics, developed his theory  of  interlanguage” or “third language”, in 1972. A “latent psychological structure” becomes woken in the brain, when a human learns a second language, said Mr. Selinker.

 

We learn English as a second language, if we have spoken a few words of another tongue before.

 

Let us reason on language and life. I could say I spoke a few words of Polish, when I began learning American. I was about 4 years old. My Polish definitely was not a grown or even shaped language faculty. More and more people learn two or more languages, beginning early.

 

To reason, we can talk examples. Many differences do not hold for language acquisition, with regard to sex or social background.

 

Feel welcome to chapter two, The role of feedback in language learning

 

Let us think 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 friends in the town area he lived were all Spanish. However, Eduardo has always had a good awareness of American English in his environment, also via the media.

 

Let us think Eduardo becomes 20. He is doing an IT degree. He takes elliptic integrals easy, but he would need a dictionary to translate math from English to Spanish — he has learned math and spoken about it in English. Mr. Selinker would say Spanish is Eduardo’s first tongue.

 

Love yet wouldn’t come Spanish-first. Eduardo’s 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.

 

  •  Regardless of social background or sex, people have primary languages, rather than first or second. My primary language for linguistics is American English. I would need a dictionary, to translate my own thesis to Polish, though Polish is my native tongue.

Ai-li also was born in America. Her grandparents were Chinese. 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.

 

Let us think Ai-li grows up and writes 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 would make the third or fourth, but actually she has learned and worked with all her languages at the same time …

 

  • The primary language is not a fixed option. Multilingual speakers will prioritize the relevant tongue, dependent on the environment and context. Language interference, that is, influence of one language over another while speaking or writing, usually happens along distracting factors. Speaking Chinese, A-li does not have to think in any other tongue. 
  • A primary language may become “the learner”. For example, my learning German began to work better when I referred it to American English, not Polish. The matter was the same when I learned French, therefore it is not merely about language groups or families.

 

Larry Selinker would imply abnormal mental and neural realities about “second language learners”.

 

It is owing to latent psychological structures in the brain that second language learners show simplification, circumlocution, and over-generalization, claims Mr. Selinker.

 

We could say Mr. Selinker holds second language learners for idiosyncratic. An idiosyncrasy can 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. 

 

Medically, there are no “latent” brain areas in unimpeded humans. Injury cannot produce neural structures for language. Further, human brains do not have purely “functional”, “mathematical”, or “psychological” connectivities.

 

Selinker (1972) noted that in a given situation, the utterances produced by a learner are different from those native speakers would produce, had they attempted to convey the same meaning, says Wikipedia.

 

Emily Dickinson was an American poet. Her works remain widely recognized, and favorably appreciated as well.

 

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.

 

The Brain by Emily Dickinson. Source: Project Gutenberg.

 

However to value Emily Dickinson’s writing, nobody could claim that every American would tell the same, were he or she to “convey the same meaning”.

 

Idiolect is the way a person speaks or writes. The word comes from Greek idios, one’s own, and lektikos, able to speak or good at speaking.

Everyone has own idiolect. Mark Twain may be a natural association, when there is talk about idiolects. It is difficult or even impossible to imagine this proficient author saying, you do not speak as I do, therefore you are wrong.

 

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, Project Gutenberg.

 

Let us analyze Second Language Acquisition: An Introductory Course by Susan M. Gass and Larry Selinker.

 

Imperfective morphology emerges with durative and/or stative verbs (i.e. activities and states), then gradually spreads to achievement/accomplishment and punctual verbs.

 

 

The book gives examples.

 

(7-33)      She dancing (activity)

(7-34)      And then a man coming … (accomplishment)

(7-35)      Well, I was knowing that. (state)

(7-36)      Other boys were shouting ‘watch out’! (achievement).

 

Harlem, Bronx, countryside or uptown America, we might be infeasible, trying to persuade people to hold accomplishment and achievement for separate. “Second language learners” may not follow ideas infeasible to “first language learners”.

 

The study was begun on children aged 8 years, reportedly French and Dutch. I have been able to find the “punctual verbs” mostly in Japanese or Slingish contexts. Indeed, the kids did not follow.

 

The French learners were overall less proficient than the Dutch learners and never reached the stage where they could use the regular past morphology productively. Transfer factors were also involved, in that learners appeared to be predisposed by basic distinctions in their L1 tense-aspect system to look for similar distinctions in the L2 input, specifically in the case of the past/non-past distinction, where Dutch is closer to English

(page 209).

 

The study lasted three years. A private teacher, I would have never been able to take that long, and more, without effect. I would have been sacked.

 

I would like to encourage also an American-born learner:

Try Language Mapping. Brains do not take different ways for language dependent on birth or residence.🙂