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CHAT Re: Language Fluency

From:Roger Mills <rfmilly@...>
Date:Friday, September 3, 2004, 18:18
John Quijada wrote:
> Andreas Johansson wrote: > >Quoting "Mark P. Line" <mark@...>: > > > >> Again, I don't think "practice" (in the sense of speaking or writing) > >> is > >> very much involved at all in the process of foreign language > >> acquisition. > > > >I can only say that my personal experience would seem to indicate the > opposite. > > > >> In any event, few of the EU languages are so similar as to be subject > >> to > >> frequent interference. (They're from three language families if you > >> count > >> Maltese, including several branches of IE.) I don't consider Spanish > >> and > >> Portuguese to be so similar as to be confusing, for instance. Czech and > >> Slovak are probably the only ones that are that similar. > > > >I believe this must then be subject to hefty individual variation. I > certainly > >find English and German similar enough to sometimes confuse. > __________________________________ > Interesting. I speak both Spanish and Portuguese without interference > between the two, but encounter definite interference between Spanish and > Italian: the two times in my life I've spent months studying Italian > prior > to extended trips there (14 years ago and currently), it has had a > detrimental impact on my Spanish, in that my Spanish vocabulary becomes > infused with Italian words,
That's interesting-- at one point I was about equally fluent in Spanish and Italian (formal courses in both), and never encountered any interference. Perhaps because I had already read up a bit on Romance history, and knew the differences.
> My guess is that, at least for me, the interference is at a phonemic and > phonotactical level in that, despite the closer genetic relationship > between Spanish and Portuguese, their phonology (particularly their > phonemic inventory and phonotactical and phonaesthetic rules) is more > dissimilar than between Spanish and Italian.
That's certainly true. I can read Portuguese, but as a trip in Brazil proved, speak it only brokenly---lots of Spanish interference there (I've never studied Port. formally). I usually spoke Spanish, which worked even though I knew it was impolite, and eventually learned to make a few of the necessary sound changes, but it was still essentially Spanish.... My back went out while in Sao Paulo, and the consulate referred me to a local clinic, where I became quite chatty with the young women at reception and with the Japanese-Brazilian tech who gave me heat therapy. I quickly learned "demais quente?" [d@"maIS 'kE~tSI_0] (voiceless final V) 'too hot?', but one day I used the Span. word "muchacha" which for some reason sent everyone into gales of laughter. One practice down there that made a lot of sense-- when the Dr. prescribes something that must be injected, instead of having to go to the dr's office, or some clinic, you just went to a pharmacy, where they did the necessary for practically pennies and no waiting. Of course in this day and age one might have qualms about dirty needles etc., but still, it certainly saved time.