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Re: Similar (was: 'useful') languages

From:Roger Mills <romilly@...>
Date:Friday, February 15, 2002, 6:18
Jonathan Knibb wrote:

>Clint Jackson Baker wrote: >>>> >[...] I'm better at >French, but I think that's because I've known it so >much longer, and French and Spanish are similar enough >that when I try to speak Spanish I tend to pidgin the >two (easy for an English speaker, who has more vocab >in common with French than with Spanish). ><<< > >Is this a common problem? I had a similar experience a couple of years
>when I was learning Swedish...... I wasn't aware that they could
interfere with each other until I
>tried speaking German just after a Swedish lesson. Result: acute total >German-aphasia. >Has anyone else come across this phenomenon? > >Jonathan.
Yes, and not even between related languages: In 1975, when I was at my peak fluency in Indonesian (and rather rusty in Spanish), I had occasion to go to Mexico to try to clue in some teachers as to the problems Indonesian speakers might have learning Spanish. I found I was simplifying Spanish grammar no end-- most interestingly, dropping the past and perfect tenses and substituting _ya_ 'already' and _ya no_ 'no longer'. That's a calque of Indonesian _sudah ~ belum_. (The idea was that a bunch of Indonesians, ranging from managers/techs/labor, were coming to Mex. to learn how to operate a steel factory the Mexicans were selling them. It was felt it might be better to try to use Spanish rather than rely on imperfect (or no) knowledge of English (on both sides). I don't know how, or even whether, the project ever came off. They wanted me to stay for 6 months, but wouldn't pay much, and I was on the verge of finishing my PhD. In a way, I've often regretted not doing it-- it would have been a real stand-out on a rather barren resumé!)