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Foreigner's errors (was: Russian soft/hard 'l' ...)

Date:Monday, February 2, 2004, 22:43
Christophe Grandsire scripsit:

> The majority one, and the one people will expect from you, especially if > you're a foreigner.
For English-as-a-whole, no such majority/expected dialect exists, however. French dialects can be arranged in a tree, with a single "correct" 'lect at the root, to which all aspire (no matter how much or how little they may do to actually achieve it); English dialectology contains loops of the form "A looks down on B's pronunciation, B looks down on A's", and even if we confine ourselves to the U.K. we can find loops like this, never mind in America where almost everyone understands almost everyone else, but there is no top at all unless you aspire to be a TV announcer. Norwegian is in a similar position, AFAIU, although not so complicated.
> This rule shows complete disrespect towards the people you're talking to, > and that rudeness has no excuse. If you cannot make the effort of trying to > speak somebody's language correctly, don't even try.
Au contraire. If you cannot speak correctly, try anyhow: I can understand bad English far better than the very best French.
> Should we all just learn foreign languages like that, and don't bother with > grammatical correctness? After all, grammatical features also differ in a > single language both in time and place. if you don't bother with phonology, > why should you bother with grammar?
I think the social difference between foreigner's grammar and foreigner's phonology is fundamental, at least in my varieties of English. I correct people who make errors in grammar (assuming I am on a footing with them that allows this), but not phonology, as long as I understand at all. For one thing, I think people can much more readily grasp a correction in syntax, morphology, or lexicon than they can one in phonology, which after all may involve distinctions the person is literally unable to hear. My wife can now make "pin" and "pen" distinct if she wants to, but she still flunks minimal-pair aural testing completely, since all /I/ > /E/ in her dialect before a nasal.
> Just speak to foreigners in your own language > loudly and distinctly. They *ought* to understand ;))) .
Ah yes, ugly Americanism. -- John Cowan "If I have not seen as far as others, it is because giants were standing on my shoulders." --Hal Abelson


Nik Taylor <yonjuuni@...>