Human Language Osmosis

So I had this theory, that by hanging around people who speak a language, one somehow magically absorbs language particles through the pores of their skin or the ulna ulterior respiratory tract.

Of course I’m mostly joking. Of course I know that science says ney, that is not how biology and human informatics works. But regardless that passing fancy lead me onto something that’s actually founded in reality.

What happened is, I found while hanging around my Japanese speaking friends, I was almost magically able to understand a very high percentage of the manga I was reading at the time, which is, as you could have guessed from reading my other posts, One Piece.

Now that we’ve ruled out magically absorbing language particles through the skin or respiratory system, let’s look at why this could be. Well honestly a lot of the time it’s just easier, because I can read a sentence I’m struggling with aloud (to someone other than my plush Dalek, who’s frequent response is, “YOU WOULD MAKE A GOOD DAALEK,”) and we can immediately have a conversation about it. Throw it around in a few other sentences, talk about differences in meanings from one language to another, all in all, so much more of an impactful experience than looking up an individual word in a dictionary.

So simply, it’s because they’re there to help me figure stuff out.

At least that’s one theory. And in truth probably a significantly contributing factor.

However, and there is almost always a however. Best used when decapitated by untimely punctuation marks that deviate from standardization.

The other aspect, of this language osmosis feeling is one that everyone of us can benefit from whether or not we happen to have the awesome bonus of hanging out with native speakers of the language we’re learning and talking to them about what we’re reading. And it’s simply: confidence.

I suspect that when I’m sitting in the same room as my friends who speak Japanese and I’m reading in Japanese, I become two things:

4) Certain that I can understand anything I’m reading.

2) Embarrassed to too quickly ask questions before having figured or attempted to figure the answer out for myself.

This in turn accomplishes two other things. Since I’m great at counting numerically, here they are:

1) I’m reading more carefully and digging deeper into my brain space for clues, context, memories, or any abstract impressionist cues that might trigger even a failed guess. But more often than not end in having learned something.

B) I’m thinking in or around the language. Which to be honest at very early beginner levels doesn’t seem like much but as you progress, becomes a powerful tool.

Kind of like:

 

And don’t misinterpret, I’m not saying that confidence = success. In some ways it can be a contributing factor, but also, sometimes so can knowing the real answer, instead of confidently believing your guesses are always correct.

So in summary, be a confident but not foolish reader. Don’t try to read foreign languages in the manner that you do your native language, because you’ll read too fast or too non-paying-attention-to-detaily and probably miss simple things that could have cued you in on unlocking a sentence or word. Which as many of you must know is magical. Also unicorns don’t exist, except on OkCupid or in dive bars.

 

 

(If this post makes little sense, I forgive Benadryl for making such potent hallucinatory drugs. After saying that I decided that I’m unsure whether or not I cited a brand or a drug and refuse to use google to answer that question, so I’ll settle for both until some later date.)

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Want to sound like a native?

Sure speaking correctly and understandably is probably more important for someone who’s just beginning their new language acquisition journey, but I’d like to think that everything is equally important.(And I have reasoning to back this up, but you won’t find it here yet.) If you have flawless grammar but speak french with a heavy american accent then, you’ve lost half the battle. I could be wrong, perhaps your goal was to sound like an american speaking French, but then isn’t part of the draw to a new language also the new (sexy)accent?

Many people struggle with this and I know why. Not because I’m all knowing, although I sometimes imagine that I am, but because I’ve gone through it with several languages. Whether or not this will help you in your journey to sound like you’re a native Chinese speaker or whatever language it is that you’re learning, is mostly left up to you, the scientist and experimenter. Here I offer only, the why and some potential how’s to fix this.

The problem:

1)You’re not listening to the sounds of the new language.

2)You’re trying to say words from another language through your own list of pre-ordered language sounds.

Okay, so what does this all mean and how does one fix it?

The solution:
 1) Stop trying to hear language. There is no language. (Remember the Matrix scene with the little bald boy and the spoon? Well he’s right. “There is no spoon.”) What you think is language is really just an agreed upon series and pattern of sounds, which themselves are nothing but varied vibrations that turn into electrochemical impulses in the brain.

The point of all that is, stop listening for words and stop trying to make sense of things, because then it’s as if you have a wooden box with circular and triangular holes, (these holes represent your native language.) Your new language however is made up of Circles, triangles, squares and hexagons. Excuse the rudimentary example but this serves, hopefully, to highlight what so many of us do wrong. We try to fill in the holes with things that don’t fit.

The solution continued:

2) Pretend that you’re listening to music. In the same way that you usually wouldn’t try to hear English words coming from a violin or a drum, you don’t want to try and hear words in a foreign language. Because they’re not going to be words to you for awhile. Try to only hear sounds. Get good at imitating those sounds or parts of those sounds. And one day when the sounds become words you’ll be better able to speak like a native!

 Admittedly, this is more of a teaser article, as I’m deathly sick and can’t talk without coughing, so when I’m better in a few days I’ll probably make a video discussing this in further detail and possibly offering more tips and demonstrations as to how this can work in practice.

As usual feel free to leave electronic words or open a discussion below.

What’s a Polyglod?

So you may not even know what a polyglot is and here I am, giving you this word that’s nearly identical and very likely Google is banging on your door asking you if you meant to type polyglot instead of polyglod. So to clear up any future, present, past, omnispace time continuum confusion, I’ll introduce Polyglod.

Polyglod is my child. It may  grow into something worthwhile, useful, remarkable, or all three. Or, it may die terribly and alone on the plains of the Internetara Desert. (But corny jokes will live on!)

Polyglod is the future space where all language enthusiasts, dreamers and doubters can come to speak honestly and inquire strangely about language. It is an imaginary internet brain place/space that, through its articles and the voices of its people will hopefully give rise to a new term, it’s namesake: Polyglods or speakers of multiple languages who take it upon themselves to create a better community of language learning, connection, intelligence and genuine human being-ness, all aiming towards improving our ability as a species to communicate freely with one another, because there are too many problems in this world and a lot of them would be fixed if we tilted our heads to one side for like thirty seconds, to realize that different people think and see the world differently.

So this place is about coming together and sharing. Whether you speak 400 million million languages or just one. You’re welcome here. Whether you hate me for my anarchic writing style that teeters on dorky, or you think what I say in electronic word images is swell, you too are welcomb.

But you’ll have to get used to words that are either made up or misused intentionally. Sentences that end where other’s should begin or not at all. Because this, although you may think it trite and immature or all of the above and beyond, is how language evolves: play.

 Play is where and how we really learn and develop. You may call it something else, but I choose the arbitrary english word, play. For me it’s about testing limits. If you’re too serious about testing your limits then you’ll never arrive at anything worthwhile, because you’re likely to spend all of your time fretting over what goes where and who know’s what and how many is the sum of two and four and so on and so forth.

So join me language learners and burners. Haters and lovers of society. Poets. Despots. Maybe even cats, (they seem to have a really strong internet presence nowadays.)

Let’s make the language a better place to learn the world and each other! (and stop being such hatey dooshfulls of bottleknobs!)

((I apologize if any Bottleknobs  were offended by the previous statement. They were merely referenced as a point of 最初(beginning) to the descriptors of hatey and dooshfulls.))