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Old 02-15-2013   #21
xf4wso
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Default Even more appreciation...

Many thanks to all who have responded - I think some very interesting and valid (at least in my limited experience) points have been made.

- I have also found that people generally show more tolerance towards "ignorant foreigners" if the ignorant foreigners are making a sincere attempt to learn and use at least a little of their language. A little truly can go a long way.

- I did not begin serious study of a foreign language until high school, but I at least was able to take 4 years of Spanish, and become reasonably proficient. No doubt, I would have learned more had I started at a much younger age.

- Desire to learn and the willingness to occasionally make a real fool of yourself in public will also carry one far. While the public embarassment may be hard on the ego, it too can be an icebreaker.

- I think the point about learning one foreign language well making learning another one easier is also true. Clearly knowing Spanish well would make it easier to learn another Romance language, I think that it goes beyond that. My personal theory is that if you can make your brain accept the fact that the world can be described and categorized in some amazingly different ways, the next "map of the world" is easier, even if completely unrelated to the first foreign language learned.

In the context of small wars, COIN, etc. perhaps the question is how do you create, find and/or encourage the patience, mental flexibility and willingness to learn another language and culture as one of the bases for success?
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Old 02-16-2013   #22
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Originally Posted by parvati View Post
...unless they are reading books and writing a little, they will not be able to pass a 4+/5 level reading/writing proficiency test because those tests are hard and are at college level or at least high school honors level. So the testers will most probably not pass a person at a native level if one starts speaking a more street version of the language picked in back alleys or slang picked up in high school.
Probably true, but raises another question: do you learn a language to pass a test or earn a rating, or do you learn it to communicate with the local populace?

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Originally Posted by parvati View Post
If all other things being equal, a hard-working, eager to learn monolingual and a lazy multilingual who doesn't put any effort are put in a class to learn a language with no prior exposure, I would think that the monolingual would fare better just by the sheer effort to learn?
This lazy multilingual once learned a language by drinking palm wine in the shade with some helpful, loquacious, and equally lazy native speakers... and learned faster than some people who were sweating it out in a classroom (long story).

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I have also found that people generally show more tolerance towards "ignorant foreigners" if the ignorant foreigners are making a sincere attempt to learn and use at least a little of their language. A little truly can go a long way.
Yes

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Originally Posted by xf4wso View Post
Desire to learn and the willingness to occasionally make a real fool of yourself in public will also carry one far. While the public embarassment may be hard on the ego, it too can be an icebreaker.
Yes again

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Originally Posted by xf4wso View Post
My personal theory is that if you can make your brain accept the fact that the world can be described and categorized in some amazingly different ways, the next "map of the world" is easier, even if completely unrelated to the first foreign language learned.
That's pretty much my theory as well.

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Originally Posted by xf4wso View Post
In the context of small wars, COIN, etc. perhaps the question is how do you create, find and/or encourage the patience, mental flexibility and willingness to learn another language and culture as one of the bases for success?
Particularly when there's no way to know what language will be in demand next, when deployments are of limited duration, and in places where security concerns limit opportunities for immersion.
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Old 02-16-2013   #23
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Default Learning strategies

In your defense Dayuhan, I do not regard sitting in the shade drinking palm wine as the mark of a "lazy multilingual" - as long as the conversations were in the language you were trying to learn, the palm wine party is legitimate language practice. Perhaps DLI will consider adding it to their bag of tricks to encourage more rapid language acquisition...
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Old 02-17-2013   #24
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I suddenly realized why I liked learning Estonian over Lingala... the social settings

We venture into an underground pub from the 13th century and drink beer and eat garlic bread and chicken wings

That should motivate most of our younger generation providing the Army wants Estonian speakers !
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Old 02-18-2013   #25
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Mr. Dayuhan, I totally agree with you on both points. Learning a language is to communicate with locals and best way is though the play scenario (playing toys when younger, and drinking when older- and after a few, even the locals will start slurring and the linguistic barriers start wearing out).

I was trying to point out that the requirements that the testing that is conducted for linguists by the government (a lot of it outsourced) is skewed in disfavor for those who speak a more street version versus an academic version a language. It is not fair and I have not passed a language test in a certain language despite being fluent because of I spoke too colloquially. The tester was a total snob and none of that would have mattered in a deployed environment. Sometimes it is just based a who scores the test. The DLI website and the "helpful phrases" modules they have for various languages are not really colloquially accurate, you hear some words and think that people just don't speak like that.

Regarding the lazy versus the eager- I think we have to give some credit to the eager ones and like Mr. Xfswo said, attending wine parties is also work if you're trying to speak with locals. Unless there is a drive to learn whether it be through study, music/films or going to medieval pubs etc.etc.. without that will, I personally don't think one can get too far.
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Old 02-18-2013   #26
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Default Learning the talk...

I am sure that most of you are familiar with Sir Richard Burton, the 19th century British explorer, linguist etc. In the 7 years he was stationed in India he passed the language exams for 12 Indian languages at the highest level. He described his method:

“I got a simple grammar and vocabulary, marked out the forms and words which I knew were absolutely necessary, and learnt them by heart by carrying them in my pocket and looking over them at spare moments during the day. I never worked for more than a quarter of an hour at a time, for after that the brain lost its freshness. After learning some three hundred words, easily done in a week, I stumbled through some easy book-work..., and underlined every word that I wished to recollect, in order to read over my pencillings at least once a day. Having finished my volume, I then carefully worked up the grammar minutiae, and I then chose some other book whose subject most interested me. The neck of the language was now broken, and progress was rapid. If I came across a new sound like the Arabic Ghayn, I trained my tongue to it by repeating it so many thousand times a day. When I read, I invariably read out loud, so that the ear might aid memory. ... whenever I conversed with anybody in a language that I was learning, I took the trouble to repeat their words inaudibly after them, and so to learn the trick of pronunciation and emphasis.”

Long quotation, but the method seems sound and could be enhanced with modern touches like mp3 players, the internet etc. He also encountered the problem of using the colloquial language versus the formal register in testing. So, Mr. Parvati you may take comfort in the fact that you are historically in good company, and in any situation where communication was essential, I would prefer your language skills.
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Old 02-18-2013   #27
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I know of Sir Burton, but what is the name of that book?

Thank you for your kind words. It's Miss Parvati.
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Old 02-18-2013   #28
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Hey Miss Parvati !

Quote:
Originally Posted by parvati View Post
It is not fair and I have not passed a language test in a certain language despite being fluent because of I spoke too colloquially. The tester was a total snob and none of that would have mattered in a deployed environment. Sometimes it is just based a who scores the test. The DLI website and the "helpful phrases" modules they have for various languages are not really colloquially accurate, you hear some words and think that people just don't speak like that.
Great point ! I attended a quick Estonian course at Inlingua in Arlington due mostly to having less than 13 weeks before deployment. With that I was sent to State's FSI for testing where I was very unwelcome. My test results at 1+ were insulting although the administrator was Finnish and refused to believe that I had studied for only 13 weeks (of a 45 week course). As my instructors were all real Estonians, they taught me to communicate in social situations, not recite a dictionary.

It would be very difficult for State to conclude that their 45 week program was inferior to a 13 week course right down the street. It has always been assumed that I got the short end of the deal.

Once on station, I would be faced with purported 3+ FSI graduates

Give me a break !

Regards, Stan
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Old 02-18-2013   #29
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Miss Parvati & Stan:

I think, based on nothing scientific, that some people are just good picking up new languages. If that is true, how much of the success at getting fluent is due to that? How many people out there are just good at it?
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Old 02-19-2013   #30
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My test results at 1+ were insulting although the administrator was Finnish and refused to believe that I had studied for only 13 weeks (of a 45 week course).
It's the cases. Finns refuse to believe that Americans (or anyone else who wasn't raised speaking a Uralic language) can get the cases right.
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Old 02-19-2013   #31
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Default Apology!

Miss Parvati - My sincere apologies! I can only plead ignorance and my gender bias as regards to this site.

The quotation was from Fawn Brodie's biography of Burton, The Devil Drives, page 44. Unfortunately, she does not cite the source.

Carl - I agree, some people do seem to be naturally more able to learn languages, but I have seen some remarkable results from people who were just plain stubborn, the kind who are determined to put their head through a linguistic wall.
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Old 02-19-2013   #32
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It's the cases. Finns refuse to believe that Americans (or anyone else who wasn't raised speaking a Uralic language) can get the cases right.
Hey Matt,
Actually, there is but one case ending more in Finnish than that of Estonian. As if that were of some comfort

For some strange reason, Estonians can communicate with Finns, but Finns can't do Estonian.

Not too sure why we always get the bad rap as Americans especially considering the fact that most of us are not Indians So, why did our ancestors decide to dump their local lingo and go American ? Football
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Old 02-19-2013   #33
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Miss Parvati & Stan:

I think, based on nothing scientific, that some people are just good picking up new languages. If that is true, how much of the success at getting fluent is due to that? How many people out there are just good at it?
Hey Carl,
I feel that it's more about a personal desire to do "it" than anything else. All four of us as children had basically the same means and foreign language background, but yet only I ended up overseas and learned foreign languages. Exposure then took its course with me.

I like this explanation but don't agree with the whole article. Have you ever taken a language aptitude test similar to the one at the link ? Bet you'd be surprised at the results.

Regards, Stan
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Old 02-19-2013   #34
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For some strange reason, Estonians can communicate with Finns, but Finns can't do Estonian.
This is the same gripe Portuguese speakers have with Spanish speakers. "We understand them, why can't they understand us!"
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Old 02-20-2013   #35
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Default For youse too, Stan and ganulv;

"I'm going town to," doesn't really cut it (translating from Finnish, "Menen kaupungille", to English).

So, let's just translate it as "I'm going town." That's perfectly understood from Hancock to Kowsit Lats - by every Hilltop Heikki who went Michigan Tech and became inginer.

To inject some scholarship into this Finnish-English discussion, I refer to the article by that learned Suomalainen American, Kent Randell, Finglish (Boston University, 2004) (yup, he's really a Rantala; see p.15):

Quote:
Impact of Finglish on speakers of English

Anybody who visits a heavily Finnish area of the Americas will report back that the thick brogue is unmistakable. Below are two examples of the Finglish accent on American English from two different informants. Although they originate in very different parts of the country, it is interesting to note how similar they are:

Finglish-English code switching from Fox, Montana:

"Paappa is vit his ractori butting the hein in da paana"
"I vould like to puy a bare of klopes (gloves)
"Dat boor peipi vas left on da seitvooki krying so muts"[57]

[57] Kujala, M. (e-mail). Request help with Finnish in America. E-mail (14 April 2004).

Finglish-English code switching from Chassell, Michigan

"Too pits" (two bits)
"Pig rout in mall ricks (big trout in small creeks)
"Ko dis vay tu akat peets" (Agate Beach) [58]

[58] Seppala, H. (e-mail). Request help with Finnish in America. E-mail(14 April 2004).
and:

Quote:
Although my mother does not speak Finnish or Finglish, these constructions, unique only to Finglish, are part of the lexicon of my family and many others in Northern Michigan:
...
English
Go Ahead
Imagine
He is supposed to

Finglish
Go Hed
Maĵin
His poustu ...

Finglish-English
Go Head
Maĵin [as in Maĵin that? Or, Can you maĵin?]
He's poustu
I immediately related to "Maĵin" and "He's poustu"; but "Go Head" threw me for a few minutes - until "Go Head, M***er F***er, take your best shot !" came out of some 50-year old, rusted brain cabinet.

We Hankooginlaiset are attached to our Finglish, as attested by its immortal monument (Randell, p.16):

Quote:
Local residents in Hancock, Michigan, are so attached to the Finglish influence on their language that a monument has been constructed in its honor. On highway US-41 the following sign stands at the top of Quincy Hill:

Name:  Kowsit Lats.jpg
Views: 297
Size:  94.5 KB

Fig. 2 Clyde Randell next to the Kowsit Lats sign in Hancock, MI.

Using the properties discussed in this paper, we can see that Kowsit Lats translates from Finglish to Cow$hit Flats [62].

62. This is perhaps the only sign in the United States to allude to an American cuss-word. When Wimpi Salmi approached the Houghton County Road Commission to construct the sign, he had to prove that there was in fact a cow pasture down that road. Beck, Julie Stevens (e-mail). Kowsit Lats sign. E-mail(14 April 2004).
Leave it to Julie Stevens Beck (a nice gal) to tell us why that sign exists. Wimpi Salmi - I wooda neva dunk. And, a beer named Kowsit Lats, to boot.

And, from Suomi itself, 'Finglish' and the Finnish-American People (Fall 2008, Katri Mattila, Helmiina Munukka and Sanni Pulkki):

Quote:
This is how the folklorist Richard M. Dorson described the Finns in Michigan's Upper Peninsula in 1952:

The coming of the Finn has rocked the northwoods country. He is today what the red man was two centuries ago, the exotic stranger from another world. In many ways the popular myths surrounding the Indian and the Finn run parallel. Both derive from a shadowy Mongolian stock - "just look at their raised cheek-bones and slanting eyes". Both live intimately with the fields and woods. Both possess supernatural stamina, strength, and tenacity. Both drink feverishly and fight barbarously. Both practice shamanistic magic and ritual, drawn from a deep well of folk belief. Both are secretive, clannish, inscrutable, and steadfast in their own peculiar social code. (123)
The local (Lake Superior and Minnesota) Ojibwe summed up the Finns in two words: madoodoowininiwag (sweat bath taking people) and omakakiiwininiwag (croaking frog people).

Regards

Mike

PS: excuse the lack of umlauts in "Maĵin" (same old issue with the editor). And, BTW, FinnFest 2013 will be held in Hankooki - Here's the agitprop page. The legal work was pro bono.

Last edited by jmm99; 02-20-2013 at 04:24 AM.
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Old 02-20-2013   #36
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Default Center vs. Periphery in Language Studies

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Originally Posted by jmm99 View Post
"I'm going town to," doesn't really cut it (translating from Finnish, "Menen kaupungille", to English).

So, let's just translate it as "I'm going town." That's perfectly understood from Hancock to Kowsit Lats - by every Hilltop Heikki who went Michigan Tech and became inginer.
Hei Mikka,
As always, a thorough job on the details, and pics to boot

Ma lähen linna/linnale - "I go town to". However, we get to choose an over long ending (linna) or use the case ending (linnale)

One of the reasons Estonians did so well with Finnish language was by watching YLE TV during the Russian occupation. Finns, for very obvious reasons, were not interested in Estonian (Russian monitored) TV. That and many Estonians came to Finland as refugees, and most of them assimilated pretty quickly.

I thought I fixed your problem with the umlauts ?

A little reprint from a 2007 post:

Quote:
The Origins of the Estonian Language

I just celebrated my fifth year in Estonia and my fifth fruitless year trying to figure out how to correctly speak Estonian. I mean really, it wouldnt be so bad if Estonians werent so smug about it. Oh, they will congratulate you on your good Estonian even if you can only speak a few words, but deep inside they really dont want you to learn it!

They are so happy with their secret code and you can see it every time someone asks you Oh, are you learning to speak Estonian? Then comes the sly grin, Youve got a snowballs chance in hell of learning our language. This is quickly replaced by a faked look of concern as they say, Oh, its a very difficult language, isnt it? I think after this, they go off and laugh uncontrollably and give high-fives to other Estonians, but I havent actually seen it happen.

I have decided to write an expos on the Estonian language. One time I sent my brother a tape of Estonian language and he asked me if Estonians have an obsession with sex. There is terviseks and ostmiseks and kasutamiseks, teadmiseks, parandamiseks and armastamiseks. All kinds of seks. That, plus the fact that after five years, little kids still laugh when I speak Estonian has made me decide to tell all. The real story behind why Estonian is the way it is.

A long time ago, about 1000 or 1100 A.D. there were three Estonian guys sitting around the campfire. Their names were Billy, Ray and Duke (bet you didnt know that these are real ancient Estonian names). It was wintertime and they were bored. Billy spoke first. You know Ray, what we need is a new language. Darn straight! said Ray. Talking this way is getting boring and besides everybody almost understands us. We need a language thats so crazy, so complicated that nobody will ever understand whats going on!

As the idea picked up steam, Duke piped up. Lets do it this way, that you cant say he or she. That way you wont know if youre talking about a man or a woman. Also, we have to think up names for people that give no clue to foreigners about their gender, names that change with the grammar so you never know what to call somebody. Ray nodded in approval Yeah, thats it. Then we can eliminate the future tense. Think of trying to ask someone out on a date when you cant say the right name, whether its a boy or girl or when it is going to happen!

Billy, the smart one was thinking in more technical terms already. O.K., lets make it this way, that when you learn a noun, you dont have to learn just one word but 14, and instead of just saying that you are going to or from something, you have to change the noun in some weird way. Now Ray was excited and spilled his beer. Yeah yeah! Andandthe nouns cant change the same way, lets make like, a hundred different spelling groups that all change in different ways! This appealed to Duke who added slyly, You want to make it real hard, a real nut-buster? Lets make it so all the adjectives change, too. In boring old English, you say five small, red houses, small, red houses and many small, red houses. Small and red always stay the same but in our new language? Whoa Nellie!

They exchanged high-fives all around and cracked a few brews. After that they started practicing how to say, Oh, youre learning Estonian? without busting up laughing.

Thats how Estonian came to be, honest!
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Old 03-01-2013   #37
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Default Finnish, Estonian and Pashto

Some of the descriptions of the grammatical wonders of Finnish and Estonian sound similar to Turkish. However, despite the lack of gender in the pronouns I have rarely found it to be a problem.

What I have concluded is that Turkish (and I think this is true of most languages) are inherently "logical" - the problem for us as English speakers is that the "logic" of the other language is not necessarily the "logic" of English. This principle seems to be applicable to writing systems and cultures as well.

Is there anyone with any experience learning and using Pashto? I would be interested in any observations.

Thanks to all!
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Old 06-11-2013   #38
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Other than cold hard cash and/or at least a real desire to learn, I have no clue how to motivate the current generation when it comes to learning a foreign language.
One promising way to do so is providing overseas training deployments for people in the accessions pipeline. US Army Cadet Command has been pushing a program called CULP for some time which (if I recall correctly) had a stated aim of ensuring over 50% of the Class of FY2015 had engaged in some form of direct contact with a foreign culture before commissioning. [That was before budgetary cutbacks however]

I can only speak to the effectiveness of the program in promoting foreign language study on an anecdotal basis, but I had the chance to go along on a CULP Deployment and kept in contact with most of the cadets afterwards. A good amount who had no intention of taking foreign language courses before going on the trip expressed a great deal of interest in doing so afterwards.
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