Sunday, February 20, 2011

bilingual kids can identify 3rd language is in use

Infants raised in households where Spanish and Catalan are spoken can discriminate between English and French just by watching people speak, even though they have never been exposed to these new languages before, according to University of British Columbia psychologist Janet Werker.

Researcher Whitney Weikum found that infants are able to discern when a different language is spoken by watching the shapes and rhythm of the speaker's mouth and face movements.

Infants raised in households where Spanish and Catalan are spoken can discriminate between English and French just by watching people speak, even though they have never been exposed to these new languages before, according to University of British Columbia psychologist Janet Werker.

Researcher Whitney Weikum found that infants are able to discern when a different language is spoken by watching the shapes and rhythm of the speaker's mouth and face movements.

a sample translation.thoughts on Espo learning

Sed ĉi tiu ne ĉiuj. La moderna menso emas esti pli kaj pli kritika kaj analiza spirite, tial devas elpensi por si motoro de esprimo kiu estas logike defendo ĉe ĉiu punkto kaj kiu emas respond ..on la rigora spirito de moderna scienco. Tio ne signifas ke konstru internacia lingvo oni atendas, ke ... ..osas havi la perfektecon de matematika simboleco, sed oni devas sentitan kiel laŭpaŝe moviĝ tiudirekten. Eble la ..lingvanoj nacia lingvo estas sub profunda iluzioj pri la logika karaktero de ĝia strukturo. Eble ili konfuzi la komforton de kutimo kun logika neceso. Se ĉi tiu estas tiel -- kaj mi ne vid kiel povas esti grave dub ke ĝi -- ĝi estas dev signif tio laŭ longatempa perspektivo la moderna spirito ne estos ripoz kontenta pri internacia lingvo tio nur etend la neperfektaĵoj kaj provincialisms de unu lingvo je la kosto de ĉiuj aliaj.

But this is not all. The modern mind tends to be more and more critical and analytical in spirit, hence it must devise for itself an engine of expression which is logically defensible at every point and which tends to correspond to the rigorous spirit of modern science. This does not mean that a constructed international language is expected to have the perfection of mathematical symbolism, but it must be felt as progressively moving in that direction. Perhaps the speakers of a national language are under profound illusions as to the logical character of its structure. Perhaps they confuse the comfort of habit with logical necessity. If this is so -- and I do not see how it can be seriously doubted that it is -- it must mean that in the long run the modern spirit will not rest satisfied with an international language that merely extends the imperfections and provincialisms of one language at the expense of all others.


D - from Sapir's essay on auxiliary languages.
It pretty much forms the principles of design for me.

Let's see how Espo stacks up with English.

Word Count 163
Syllable Count 254
Character Count (alphanumeric) 707
Mean syllables per word 1.56
Mean characters per word 4.34

Word Count 161
Syllable Count 235
Character Count (alphanumeric) 759
Mean syllables per word 1.46
Mean characters per word 4.71

D - about the same # of words, English has fewer syllables, Espo has fewer letters, English had less syllables per word, and Espo had fewer characters per word.
So Espo's 1:1 orthography initially suggests brevity, but this is offset by the syllable-heavy format of Espo.

I am halfway through the vocabulary list of the basic Espo tutorial book.

Oven - cuir-furno or bakulo
Meet - renkonta or konvena
granda or magnifika
although vs nevertheless
coat vs jacket
rondo vs cirkau
walk vs run
vera vs falso
mango vs fasteno (feast)
master vs chairman vs leader
robi - why not just 'violent theft'?
butiko vs magazeno
revuo vs gazeto
forget but remember - no link
dialecto vs lingvo
"hearty" translates to "cordial".

D: the key themes are as follows.
1) not using variations/opposites/compound nouns
2) a whole lotta redundancy that could have been handled by nuance instead.
3) the sporadic yet sometimes slavish adherence to spelling conventions.
The TS sound of C remains extremely difficult for me, and bewildering.
The consonant-cluster in a single letter is constantly spoofing me. The 1:1 orthography of Espo spectacularly backfires in this case.
I imagine English X and Q (ks and kw respectively) has a similar impact on ESL students.
4) the opacity of prefix/suffixes. I am unable to know certainly whether a syllable is part of the core word root/stem or whether it is something else. In fact, there is no way to tell. It makes introducing anything but the most simple words as vocabulary items fraught with peril.

The fixation on simple grammar ignores that Espo is not particularly simple in any other aspect, other than the arbitrary clockwork morphology, resulting extremely difficult pronunciations (nearly impossible for me as an Anglo) that admittedly has a 1:1 orthography.

The vort-listo layout in the Espo book is terrible.
I cannot hide the definition with a slip of paper, since I can see the next entry's definition peeking out on the left column.
Similarly, it is only useful for Espo-English, not the reverse.
Of course, this is of little use in translating on the go from English to spoken Espo.
I invent memory aids as best I can, but often any related one eludes me.
Again, the book is too big to fit in a pocket.
Par for course, the Espo book, like the Espo language, fails in the details.And the devil is in the details. The kingdom was lost for lack of a nail.

I think the top-1000 Espo words include words for turkey, ?starling? and um glenhen or something. I have never even heard of that one in English.
Oh wait- I stand corrected. The cuckoo bird is there too.
That they wasted the entries on the introductory vocabulary list on those, and did not invent some useful compounded names to reduce memorization demands, is beyond me.

There is that natural language bias in vocabulary. The idea that one can lazily sprawl definitions for core words across a nearly endless number of arbitrary and unrelated words.

In short, even though I plan to teach this lingvo this year, I pretty much need to toss out the self-teaching book.
Fortunately I am a fully qualified written English language instructor, so can do better.

Next stop: exploring a Lang53/langX type progressing phoneme list to the role of 'check sum value'. By that I mean reproducing the irregular/agreement function of natural language.
For example, I am - you are- he is. We have 2 clues about the pronoun-common verb combo, giving us multiple chances to suss out meaning when communication is unclear.
I optionally introduced this with VERSE. I.e. a sci-fi story language that assigns tone/pitch exclusively to various closed-class word meanings.
Like sign language (ASL), obvious context at times allows us to skip anything but subject-verb-object words. Sometimes, we wish to have data redundancy to ensure precise clarity of meaning, and reintroduce both these supporting words as well as the pitch 'toneme' on top of the SVO words in what amounts to agreement.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

ists, isms and ologies- oh my! on 'belief'

The most pernicious statement I can imagine is this.
"God- do you believe he exists?"

It was during the late 17th century, as the western conception of truth became more notional, that the word "belief" changed its meaning. Previously, bileve meant "love, loyalty, commitment". It was related to the Latin libido and used in the King James Bible to translate the Greek pistis ("trust; faithfulness; involvement"). In demanding pistis, therefore, Jesus was asking for commitment not credulity: people must give everything to the poor, follow him to the end, and commit totally to the coming Kingdom.

"Traduttore, tradittore" or “Translator, traitor”.

D: nearly as fun as watching the march of 'son of god' (sons?) through aramaic, greek, latin, middle English 'n Modern English.

In the Hebrew Bible the phrase "sons of God" occurs:

* Gen 6:2 b'ney ha-Elohim (בְנֵי־הָֽאֱלֹהִים) sons of the God.
* Job 1:6 b'ney ha-Elohim (בְּנֵי הָאֱלֹהִים) sons of the God.
* Job 38:7 b'ney elohiym (בְּנֵי אֱלֹהִֽים) without the definite article - sons of gods.[1]
* Psalm 29:1 b'ney elim (בְּנֵי אֵלִים ) without the definite article - sons of elim.

The 2nd century BC Book of Enoch turns the "sons of God" into fallen angels, referred to as Watchers, who came to earth and had children with human women, resulting in a race of half-angel, half-human beings known as the "Giants" (Nephilim).[citation needed] The view is found in Philo[14] and in Josephus Antiquities 1:73 (or 1:3.1).[15]

D: or perhaps socially powerful men, depending on the translation.

Point is, folks are happy to squabble over these points. In fact, to some it seems reasonable to resort to bloodshed.

Here we see translations through a series of natural languages that were never intended to be accurate repository languages.

I can find other examples, but you see the point.

A language that is designed to be accurate and flexible, as espoused by Sapir, can lick this.

It does not exist in nature.
It must be designed.

D - Aside- am halfway through learning the basic Esperanto langauge. My room-mate suspects I may have developed Tourette's Syndrome, given how much I swear about it. There is no limit to the nasty things I can say about it. Z was a highly motivated amateur- emphasis on AMATEUR.
Thanks GOD the French vetoed it with the League of Nations.
Who knew I'd ever thank the French for anything!

My FB entry today.
'What Europe needs most is about fifty more dead languages', said a sagacious observer at the outbreak of the the Great War. 'What the world needs is 200 more dead artificial languages- and one more'. (ME)

texting results in subliminal messages

For one experiment, Topolinski used a set of number sequences that correspond to positive words, like 54323 ("liebe" -- love) and 373863 ("freund" -- friend), and a set for negative words, like 7245346 ("schleim" -- slime) and 26478 ("angst" -- fear).

The work has practical implications, too. In another experiment, Topolinski had volunteers type numbers that were supposed to go with specific types of businesses; a word that implied the German word for "jewelry" for a jeweler, or "apartment" for a rental office. After dialing the phone number and hearing an answering machine message, volunteers rated the business on its attractiveness. When the number matched the business, volunteers gave the business a higher rating than when they were mismatched; for example, a number for "wealth" for a financial counsel.

Business owners could take this effect into mind when choosing a phone number, Topolinski says. For example, "if you are a lawyer, try to get a phone number which implies the word 'justice,' or if you have a donation hotline, include the sequence 4483 for 'give.'"

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

dolphins as training to talk to aliens

When trained, they have a remarkable capacity to pick up language. At the Dolphin Institute in Hawaii, Louis Herman and his team taught dolphins hundreds of words using gestures and symbols. Dolphins, they found, could understand the difference between statements and questions, concepts like “none” or “absent,” and that changing word order changes the meaning of a sentence. Essentially, they get syntax.

D - not sure if dogs ever understood syntax.

Herzing created an open-ended framework for communication, using sounds, symbols and props to interact with the dolphins. The goal was to create a shared, primitive language that would allow dolphins and humans to ask for props, such as balls or scarves.

Divers demonstrated the system by pressing keys on a large submerged keyboard. Other humans would throw them the corresponding prop. In addition to being labeled with a symbol, each key was paired with a whistle that dolphins could mimic. A dolphin could ask for a toy either by pushing the key with her nose, or whistling.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Count to 3 without language. But that is it.

Field studies by University of Chicago psychologist Susan Goldin-Meadow and a team of researchers found deaf people in Nicaragua, who had not learned formal sign language, do not have a complete understanding of numbers greater than three.

When it comes to counting, a remote Amazonian tribespeople have been found to be lost for words.

Researchers discovered the Piraha tribe of Brazil, with a population of 200, have no words beyond one, two and many.

The word for "one" can also mean "a few", while "two" can also be used to refer to "not many".

Peter Gordon of Columbia University in New York said their skill levels were similar to those of pre-linguistic infants, monkeys, birds and rodents.

Count to 3 without language.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

on acquiring a 3rd language

fluency and skills in one language assist in the language acquisition of a second language, and possessing skills in two languages can boost the learning process of a third language.

"Gaining command of a number of languages improves proficiency in native languages," Prof. Abu-Rabia explained. "This is because languages reinforce one another, and provide tools to strengthen phonologic, morphologic and syntactic skills.

D: I just recertified as a literacy tutor.
I hope my work schedule allows me to have a student this year.
We'll see.