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Thread: learning language

  1. #1 learning language 
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    the best way of learning language is to use but not study it.
    your subconsciousness will do it for you.


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  3. #2  
    Veracity Vigilante inow's Avatar
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    Why not do both?


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  4. #3  
    Forum Masters Degree Twit of wit's Avatar
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    Because studying it does not help. Our conscious mind is too slow to process natural language in real-time.
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    I studied English to get better at it, even though I "used" it, as well. I ask again. Why not both? I see a pretty profound false dichotomy in the OP. Sure... Immersion is good. So too is actual study.

    Basically, I disagree with you that studying doesn't help, and also have no idea what this means:

    Quote Originally Posted by Twit of wit
    Our conscious mind is too slow to process natural language in real-time.
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  6. #5  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard i_feel_tiredsleepy's Avatar
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    Studying is almost always going to be necessary to learn the written language, and to understand the grammar properly.

    I'm not exactly sure how immersion could function without an effort to study the language either, you don't absorb it like a sponger, you have to have a point of entry and have to have stuff explained to you.
    "I almost went to bed
    without remembering
    the four white violets
    I put in the button-hole
    of your green sweater

    and how i kissed you then
    and you kissed me
    shy as though I'd
    never been your lover "
    - Leonard Cohen
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  7. #6  
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    To OP:

    If you only want to learn to speak it - maybe, and it would still take long.

    If you want to learn to speak and write - never.


    If you study it then use it practically youll advance faster in both.

    So the answer is definitely BOTH as inow stated.
    A lie is a lie even if everyone believes it. The truth is the truth even if nobody believes it. - David Stevens
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  8. #7 Re: learning language 
    Forum Junior JennLonhon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dolphinbubble
    the best way of learning language is to use but not study it.
    your subconsciousness will do it for you.
    No fence, but that is ridiculous.... U can not learn a language properly without studying grammar. Ok, maybe you can learn how to communicate in English, or Spanish and Italian, but no way, no way, u can learn how to communicate in Russian for example without learning it. So, im with Raziell, both is the way
    "Be the change you want to see in the world"
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  9. #8 Re: learning language 
    Forum Masters Degree Twit of wit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JennLonhon
    Quote Originally Posted by dolphinbubble
    the best way of learning language is to use but not study it.
    your subconsciousness will do it for you.
    No fence, but that is ridiculous.... U can not learn a language properly without studying grammar. Ok, maybe you can learn how to communicate in English, or Spanish and Italian, but no way, no way, u can learn how to communicate in Russian for example without learning it. So, im with Raziell, both is the way
    Why not? And why Spanish but not Russian? And how children do it if it's not possible?
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  10. #9 Re: learning language 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Twit of wit
    And how children do it if it's not possible?
    1. They are children. A human who is not afforded to the opportunity to learn language before adolescence will never acquire fluency much above that of a gorilla or chimpanzee.
    2. It's possible, but it's damn difficult. The process can be nudged along effectively through the use of study.
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    I don't agree at all with the study of grammar.
    You CANNOT learn a language by studying in fact.

    Language is from lingua, the tongue. You even say it in english "the mother tongue". Language goes out of the mouth before of the pen. Written language is a non-sense, there is nothing as written language, there is a just a written transcription of a speach.

    I learned english and german the traditionnal way, at school. All the other languages I speak, I learned them in immersion, mostly with ladies (love / sex can be an extremely strong motivation).
    It first started with greek. I learned greek in Greece when I was around 20-25. It took me 3 months to speak and 2 years to be fluent. I had a greek girlfriend.
    I then learned igbo in Nigeria, 100% in immersion. I cannot say I am fluent, I still make mistake in the tones (most west african languages are tone languages like chinese) but I can speak it without most problems for common life. I was 25-30 when I learned igbo. I had an igbo girlfriend.
    I then learned spanish. There was no choice, I was sent on a mission in Mexico. I have to confess I used during 2 weeks before the travel a small booklet to get the very basic. Then I learned it during 2 months in Villahermosa and Veracruz. Then I went to Venezuela and Argentina (where I met some beautiful ladies) and I perfected in spanish.
    I then learned russian with books because I was working on some oil and gas database. It fails. No russian girlfriend.
    I then learned yoruba because my present girlfriend is speaking it. It is progressing and it is not difficult.

    Learning by immersion is not impossible, it is not only for children. It is for everyone. Adults are just a bit slower. And it is the ONLY way to learn properly a language.
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  12. #11 Re: learning language 
    Forum Masters Degree Twit of wit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    Quote Originally Posted by Twit of wit
    And how children do it if it's not possible?
    1. They are children. A human who is not afforded to the opportunity to learn language before adolescence will never acquire fluency much above that of a gorilla or chimpanzee.
    Cildren=magic? No, the only reason why children can do it and adults can't is because adults never try to learn it the natural way. As I wrote above - our conscious minds are too slow for natural language processing, that's why you can't learn it by studying.
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    I think i'm right in saying that the language module as a proportion of a child's brain is several times that of an adult, so they are literally lingustic genius's (genii?!) by comparison.

    Really for an adult to attempt to learn a language in the same manner as a child automatically goes about it is akin to trying to learn to play the piano with your foot - impressive if you can manage it, but so much easier to use your hands.
    Seeing as natural language ability declines drastically through adolscence and onward, you reach the point were aqcuiring native-like fluency is impossible.
    So while a child begins by learning nouns at a phenomenal rate, and moves from the concrete to abstract, i would've thought an adult would be better off looking for patterns - not studying grammar neccesarily, just learning formulaeic phrases that can help to build context quickly, and moving from the abstract to the concrete.

    Anyway, i don't think it's possible to learn just by immersion for the vast majority.
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  14. #13  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Makandal
    I don't agree at all with the study of grammar.
    You CANNOT learn a language by studying in fact.

    Language is from lingua, the tongue. You even say it in english "the mother tongue".
    And, I presume you learned those things due to LACK of study, right?



    Quote Originally Posted by Makandal
    Learning by immersion is not impossible, it is not only for children. It is for everyone. Adults are just a bit slower.
    I totally agree here, but will ask again. Why not do both? Why not learn through immersion AND study? Finally, why do I feel frustrated at the responses which seem to be ignoring the plainly and blatantly obvious correctness of my point?
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  15. #14  
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    To inow...
    I learned these languages by immersion not because of the lack of books or methods but because it is more easy, more natural if you have the opportunity. Learning a language just depends on how you listen and mimic your partners. This is why having a girl/boytfriend is helping it: it is forcing you to communicate. You turn to study when there is no choice. It's the 'poorman solution'.
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  16. #15 Re: learning language 
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Twit of wit
    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    Quote Originally Posted by Twit of wit
    And how children do it if it's not possible?
    1. They are children. A human who is not afforded to the opportunity to learn language before adolescence will never acquire fluency much above that of a gorilla or chimpanzee.
    Cildren=magic? No, the only reason why children can do it and adults can't is because adults never try to learn it the natural way. As I wrote above - our conscious minds are too slow for natural language processing, that's why you can't learn it by studying.
    As CMR has pointed out the child's brain functions differently from an adult in regard to language. This is so well established I have no intention of taking the time to find you a citation. Look it up yourself of remain consistently ignorant. It's all the same to me.
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  17. #16 Re: learning language 
    Forum Junior JennLonhon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Twit of wit
    Quote Originally Posted by JennLonhon
    Quote Originally Posted by dolphinbubble
    the best way of learning language is to use but not study it.
    your subconsciousness will do it for you.
    No fence, but that is ridiculous.... U can not learn a language properly without studying grammar. Ok, maybe you can learn how to communicate in English, or Spanish and Italian, but no way, no way, u can learn how to communicate in Russian for example without learning it. So, im with Raziell, both is the way
    Why not? And why Spanish but not Russian? And how children do it if it's not possible?
    Imple. Spanish or English are languages that have a grammar a lot more simple than Russian from one simple reason, in English, mother is mother in every context in my language for example, which is pretty similar to Russian u can say :
    majka
    majku
    majci
    majke
    majko
    o majci

    depending on the context. So no, if u wish to speak a language without being "i speaking" or "i be a man" u can not do it without grammar.
    "Be the change you want to see in the world"
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    I also think the cultural aspect is prominent.

    Languages bring about a certain method of expression, and in different societies, there are different modes of expression.

    For example, in certain societies, non-verbal language plays an extremely large role alongside the language itself. Some societies use language that are geared towards the emotional aspect, for example Korean. Some societies, mostly Asian societies use language that are segregated into different modes of "respect" for different class people.


    Some societies have different arrangement of verbs, subjects and objects, and this leads in to a different order of representation.

    In Korean, "I'm in love with you" is just expressed as the noun "Love", similar to Japanese, or its parent, Mandarin (or Chinese and its dialects) with its "Love you", discarding the pronoun "I", even in formal situations.

    Or another example.. they express it as "You resemble beauty", instead of "You are beautiful".


    Some languages have active/passive forms, some have different genders for their nouns, some have so many "grammatical" rules that just studying it alone would render you helpless as the amount of time to just think of a proper sentence would leave you stumped at a cashier.


    There's also the problem about different slangs/jargons/dialects that are so commonly used they are incorporated into the language itself.



    I've learnt about 7 languages fluently, but only because I have mixed into their societies for a considerable amount of time.
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    Sorry to intervene once more but formal written learned grammar is useless when you learn a language in immersion. There has been generations and generations of illetrate people who were able to speak beautiful russian, polish, greek, german, french despite the desinences, the cases, the masculine and feminine etc...
    Grammar was created by human minds for human minds. Grammars can be understood outside of books. This is basically the works of Noam Chomsky with his generative grammar. I won't argue that Chomsky's theory can be discussed but the basis stays.
    So, yes, there is a grammar. And no, you don't need to 'learn' it with books and formal structured lessons UNLESS you cannot have an immersion experience.

    And btw, Mandarin and Japanese are not parent at all. They are as separate that euskady can be from german.
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  20. #19  
    Forum Masters Degree Twit of wit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Makandal
    Learning by immersion is not impossible, it is not only for children. It is for everyone. Adults are just a bit slower.
    I totally agree here, but will ask again. Why not do both? Why not learn through immersion AND study? Finally, why do I feel frustrated at the responses which seem to be ignoring the plainly and blatantly obvious correctness of my point?[/quote]

    Because study is often actually HARMFUL.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    As CMR has pointed out the child's brain functions differently from an adult in regard to language. This is so well established I have no intention of taking the time to find you a citation. Look it up yourself of remain consistently ignorant. It's all the same to me.
    This is however "established" on adult's inability to archieve fluency. However it's not age, but study what prevents it. People who archieved fluency by immersion clearly disprove the critical period hypothesis.

    Quote Originally Posted by JennLonhon
    Imple. Spanish or English are languages that have a grammar a lot more simple than Russian from one simple reason, in English, mother is mother in every context in my language for example, which is pretty similar to Russian u can say :
    majka
    majku
    majci
    majke
    majko
    o majci

    depending on the context. So no, if u wish to speak a language without being "i speaking" or "i be a man" u can not do it without grammar.
    I know that (my native language is similar) but why do you think it's a problem? You will not speak like "I be a man" because you won't hear people say "I be a man"
    And by the way it does not depend on the context, every case means something. It serves the same purpose as word order in english.
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  21. #20  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard i_feel_tiredsleepy's Avatar
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    It's nonsense to think that even children learn merely through immersion.

    Anyone who has raised a child, or even been around a child learning to speak, will tell you that there is a process of repetition and correction to teach a child how to actually speak properly.

    I don't see how immersion can be distinguished from study, because it is merely another way to study, since you will have to have the meaning of things, and the proper uses of phrases, taught to you. Especially in the earlier stages of learning a language, it is absolutely necessary for someone to have a foundational understanding before even beginning with immersion to really make progress.

    Moreover, it is important to repeat that written uses of a language and the oral are not identical in many languages.

    To the proposition that written language is useless, that's just nonsense. Written language is an integral part of being a fluent speaker of another language.
    "I almost went to bed
    without remembering
    the four white violets
    I put in the button-hole
    of your green sweater

    and how i kissed you then
    and you kissed me
    shy as though I'd
    never been your lover "
    - Leonard Cohen
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  22. #21  
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    I agree partially with you, mon cher camarade quebecois.

    Yes immersion is another way of studying, the difference is that immersion is 90% focused on speaking, there is no formal study of the grammar, of the syntax rules etc...

    To the proposition that written language is useless, that's just nonsense. Written language is an integral part of being a fluent speaker of another language.

    I never said that they are useless, I said they don't exist. There is a written grammar which is useless UNLESS there is no immersion. And there is NOTHING like written languages. There are written form of communication. But sensus stricto, a language is only spoken. The writing form is a transcription of the spoken form, which, for cultural reasons, has shifted with its own style.

    Now, before you feel tired to fast, just analyze what you wrote: written language being an integral part of being fluent speaker of another language....
    How can you speak when you write ?
    And just before, you said it: the written uses can differ in many form of communications.
    Finally, what you just wrote is a big slap in the face of the billions of people who did not have or do not have a form of writing transcription of their languages. I live in Africa and I can remember the great-uncle of my ex-wife. He was a very old man, he knew how to catch the attention of people, how to sculpt his sentences, to put the right proverb when it is necessary, to master his language like no one. He was more than fluent. He was illetrate.

    Je t'enjoins de lire. oui, de lire, ce titre de Patrick Chamoiseau "Solibo Magnifique", tout y est sur la parole, la puissance du verbe, et la mort du mot, au propre comme au figure.
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  23. #22  
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    The child's extraordinary language-learning skills (attributed to the LAD) have already been mentioned; I would just like to add one more aspect: hearing.

    In our childhood, we learn to classify sounds according to the phonetic system of the language we are brought up in. In older age, with some perseverance, a person can learn a foreign language very well, but in many cases they just won't be able to tell two sounds from each other - sounds which are considered different phonemes in that language, and carry different meanings when used in a word.

    This is why, on a chilly day, a French host terrified her foreing guest by saying that there is an electric eater in the room. This is why some apparently healthy and youthful Japanese will tell you, in otherwise fluent and idiomatic English, about having an erection once in five years. See also this hilarious example of a German coast guard trainee struggling with the English [s] versus [th] distinction - in most continental European languages, the [th] is just the way a teething kid pronounces the [s], so our ears filter it out and we hear an [s] instead.
    Leszek. Pronounced [LEH-sheck]. The wondering Slav.
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  24. #23  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leszek Luchowski
    In our childhood, we learn to classify sounds according to the phonetic system of the language we are brought up in. In older age, with some perseverance, a person can learn a foreign language very well, but in many cases they just won't be able to tell two sounds from each other - sounds which are considered different phonemes in that language, and carry different meanings when used in a word.
    From my experience this can be reversed within few weeks at most. But it has to be done BEFORE you start learning. (just listen to the language, your ears will tune in automatically)

    The effects you describe happen when someone starts before this happens. Once your brain accepts the sounds as allophones it's very hard to get rid of it.
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  25. #24  
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    Practice learning a new language by reading and listening to it...and take a few classes....it's easy if you are motivated...
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    I might shift a bit anecdotic but let me tell you the time I got the most ridiculous in my life.
    I was 16, in the family of my austrian penfriend in Kaernten, Spittal an der Drau. The father was an army officer, quite strict. The mother was more open. But all in all, Austria+Kaernten+Army does not give a very liberal style family.
    I have also to say I was having there a girlfriend, from another family. My very first SERIOUS girlfriend, if you know what serious means at that age.

    We were at the table and I made a mistake. In my head, a total mixing occured.
    I wanted to say "Shit !" in german and I mixed it with english.

    It gave "Scheide !" instead of "Scheisse"

    Silence............ Then burst of laugh.

    For non-german speakers, "Scheide" means vagina or a sheath in german...
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  27. #26  
    Forum Junior JennLonhon's Avatar
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    And by the way it does not depend on the context, every case means something. It serves the same purpose as word order in english.
    Hmmm.... No. It does depend on the context. It depends on do you want to say:
    Hi, my friend
    or
    He is my friend

    And just so we don't argue on the facts here is my point http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Declension

    Not really on the example of my language but you can see Latin, and it will do.
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  28. #27  
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    Quote Originally Posted by JennLonhon
    And by the way it does not depend on the context, every case means something. It serves the same purpose as word order in english.
    Hmmm.... No. It does depend on the context. It depends on do you want to say:
    Hi, my friend
    or
    He is my friend

    And just so we don't argue on the facts here is my point http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Declension

    Not really on the example of my language but you can see Latin, and it will do.
    I'm not sure what you mean. The article describes it. The nominative case means the word describes a direct object. Genitive means the word describes a possesor of something. Dative means the word describes an indirect object. etc. It does not depend on the context, it depends on what you want to say.
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  29. #28  
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    Ok, i think we misunderstood each other. We're trying to say the same thing in different ways... Either way, languages with declension are possible to learn by listening, but a lot easier to understand if you just learn couple of rules. I guess you can learn it by listening, but it would be far more difficult.... :? I know this because in my primary school I had troubles because I didn't want to learn declension rules thinking it would "be logical to me". And in most cases it is, because that is the language I'm subjected to all my life. And even though I have been speaking this language for 17 years, I still sometimes think which for of word am i supposed to use. Very rare of course, but sometimes it happens. Just imagine how could a stranger, with no knowledge of the language be confused....
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  30. #29 Re: learning language 
    Forum Cosmic Wizard spuriousmonkey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Twit of wit
    Quote Originally Posted by JennLonhon
    Quote Originally Posted by dolphinbubble
    the best way of learning language is to use but not study it.
    your subconsciousness will do it for you.
    No fence, but that is ridiculous.... U can not learn a language properly without studying grammar. Ok, maybe you can learn how to communicate in English, or Spanish and Italian, but no way, no way, u can learn how to communicate in Russian for example without learning it. So, im with Raziell, both is the way
    Why not? And why Spanish but not Russian? And how children do it if it's not possible?
    Children need to go to school to learn the language properly. My Finnish teacher complained the other day about Finnish children not being able to speak and write proper Finnish due to the influence of texting and such. Although they speak Finnish much better than I do, I can actually outperform them on some grammatical tasks that are obscure to Finns as well.
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  31. #30 Re: learning language 
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    Quote Originally Posted by spuriousmonkey
    Children need to go to school to learn the language properly. My Finnish teacher complained the other day about Finnish children not being able to speak and write proper Finnish due to the influence of texting and such. Although they speak Finnish much better than I do, I can actually outperform them on some grammatical tasks that are obscure to Finns as well.
    You know, that actually does make a lot of sense. I begun to notice that due to spending more time online and using my English for sociable purposes, I started writing you as u, even in school. So again, proper learning is necessary....
    "Be the change you want to see in the world"
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  32. #31 Re: learning language 
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    Quote Originally Posted by spuriousmonkey
    Children need to go to school to learn the language properly. My Finnish teacher complained the other day about Finnish children not being able to speak and write proper Finnish due to the influence of texting and such. Although they speak Finnish much better than I do, I can actually outperform them on some grammatical tasks that are obscure to Finns as well.
    If they are obscure to Finns, they are obviously no longer a part of the Finnish language.
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    Desinence / declensions, tones, are mechanisms naturally created in human languages to avoid noise and increase the information passed in a communication.

    what do I mean by that ? Animal communication is highly specialized. the proper of our language is to be multipurposed. The downside of this, we need to create sometimes redundant messages in order to pass the information. This process is part of what makes languages tough to learn. The russian declinations, the chinese tones, the magyar tonal variations, the french grammar etc..., all these are just there to help to make language more clear. it's just different tricks our brain found, different pre-wired recipes to enhance communications.

    when people from various linguistic origins found themselves together, they have to communicate so they invente, naturally, something called a pidgin. it has occured in the mediterranean world, in New Guinea, in Hawaii, in West Africa, in Caribbean etc... pidgins share all the same lack of structure, of grammar etc... Then, the second generation of children starts to build very quickly a creole, where a clear grammar starts to appear.

    These rules seems to be quite similar through the world. It would mean that, to a given problem, our mind, especially the one of young children, has the capability of generating a kind of universal grammar. Then, with times, these grammar will drift apart. This is a very quick summary of the thesis of Chomsky. it is much more complex in fact and there are a series of universal rules that are the "remains" of this pre-wired grammar, some rules so powerful that all languages sticks to it (although there are debate on it). Recursivity is one of them, all languages are recursive "the cake that I ate in plane that I took this afternoon was full of sand" is a recursive sentence and a good reason not to fly with Air Nigeria, but it will take us too far..

    All this long speech to say that our brain does not need books to understand a foreign language. it just needs motivation, because our brain already has pre-wired all the tools to speak chinese, san, navajo, finnish or german.
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  34. #33  
    Veracity Vigilante inow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Makandal
    All this long speech to say that our brain does not need books to understand a foreign language.
    I agree. However, you continue to present your false dichotomy. As I pointed out very early in this thread, learning of a language is heavily supplemented and made much more robust through education and book study. Immersion is great. So, too, is study.
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  35. #34 Re: learning language 
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Twit of wit
    If they are obscure to Finns, they are obviously no longer a part of the Finnish language.
    They are obscure to some Finns, not all Finns. Do you wish language to descend to the lowest common denominator?
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  36. #35 Re: learning language 
    Forum Cosmic Wizard spuriousmonkey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Twit of wit
    Quote Originally Posted by spuriousmonkey
    Children need to go to school to learn the language properly. My Finnish teacher complained the other day about Finnish children not being able to speak and write proper Finnish due to the influence of texting and such. Although they speak Finnish much better than I do, I can actually outperform them on some grammatical tasks that are obscure to Finns as well.
    If they are obscure to Finns, they are obviously no longer a part of the Finnish language.
    Of course they are. Politicians, writers, poets, teachers, scientists still use the proper grammar.
    "Kill them all and let God sort them out."

    - Arnaud Amalric

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