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New to the list (acquisition)

From:Roger Mills <romilly@...>
Date:Friday, June 16, 2000, 4:35
>> Lars Henrik Mathiesen wrote (in reply to John Cowan): >> >> > > For speakers of Austronesian languages, Tok Pisin. For anglophones,
>> > >> > Is that something that has actually been measured? >> >> Probably not. But our own Jacques Guy (still on this list, frogguy?) >> described Bislama, which is closely related to TP, as "an Austronesian >> language with English lexemes", which suggests that using it fluently >> will be easy for Austro-speakers and hard for anglophones.>
Maybe a tendency for anglos to keep trying to "correct" TP, on the assumption that it's just "bad English with no rules, so anything goes".
>I really think it would be interesting if someone had measured it, >both for first- and second-language acquisition. (However, I'm not >even aware if language acquisition researchers have a metric for >acquisition speed that they agree on).>
There's a goodly amount of stuff on first-lang. acquisition, usually by linguists studying their own child (so mostly Eur. languages), where the general consensus IIRC is that by school age (5 or 6) the child should have mastered the phonology, if not all of the grammar; again IIRC, that langs. with more complex phonologies (Russian I think, not to mention Salishan or Athapaskan, probably unstudied) take a little longer. IMHO, some of these studies tend to be little more than academic elaborations of rather obvious points. As to a "metric for acquisition speed" of 2nd langs., that seems difficult if not impossible-- too many variables, motivation, study-time, quality of the teacher....and whatever mysterious ability it is that enables some few students of any age to dive right in and never have a problem. Our esteemed State Department used to have a list that classified langs. according to their difficulty. The criteria were unstated, but you could pretty well figure them out; very generally 1. similarity to Engl-- lots of cognate forms, relatively familiar phonology-- the W.Eur. langs. 2. non-similar either grammatically or phonologically, few cognates, but Latin alphabet-- Albanian and Malay/Indonesian, Finnish, that I can recall. 3. ditto but with non-Latin writing systems (but alphabetic)-- Russian and other Cyrillic, Arabic, Indic langs. 4-- REALLY difficult writing systems, Chinese and Japanese. Strikes me they were more concerned that the diplomats should be able to read the daily paper, than talk to the natives. At the time, the Soviet Union was still in business, so Ubykh, Georgian, et al. weren't necessary.