Linguistic Dysfunction

If you feel that your question or comment doesn't fit into the categories above, feel free to post it here.

Linguistic Dysfunction

Post by minjeff » Fri Nov 18, 2005 6:28 pm

I'm a college student and have learned and continue to learn four languages, which to many on this site is not impressive, however I've excelled in all four (English, Spanish, German, and French) and am proud of my achievements. At times though, I simply cannot switch my mode of thought from one linguistic style to another. For example, sometimes I apply Spanish or German grammer to English. Like in Spanish one can place long subjects at the end of a statement or German a conjugated modal verb goes to the end of a complex sentences subordinating clause. Also, sometimes I simply can't access the "files" of a certain language.

Does any one else experience similar phenomena?
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS
Signature: Letters go together to make words; words go together to make phrases, and phrases sentences, but only in certain combinations. In others they're just non-sense.

Linguistic Dysfunction

Post by Erik_Kowal » Fri Nov 18, 2005 9:06 pm

What you are referring to is known as 'linguistic interference', and is usually most apparent in the interference of one secondary language (i.e. one that is not one's mother tongue) with another, especially if those languages are fairly similar. For instance, native English speakers who also know French frequently experience linguistic interference from French when they start to learn Spanish (which belongs to the same family of languages as French).

It is more unusual for secondary languages to influence one's mother tongue in this way unless one has been living for some time in a country where one's mother tongue is not habitually spoken.
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS
Signature: -- Looking up a word? Try OneLook's metadictionary (--> definitions) and reverse dictionary (--> terms based on your definitions)8-- Contribute favourite diary entries, quotations and more here8 -- Find new postings easily with Active Topics8-- Want to research a word? Get essential tips from experienced researcher Ken Greenwald

Linguistic Dysfunction

Post by Phil White » Fri Nov 18, 2005 9:25 pm

It only ever happens to me (and it can happen either way) when I'm code switching for any reason. If I'm speaking English to English native speakers, it doesn't happen, nor if I'm speaking German to German native speakers. Very occasionally when I'm talking with colleagues and switch language for some reason (to discuss a different topic, quote something or to relate a story), it can happen in the next few sentences. This morning I was talking to an English colleague about a German translation problem. He was called away to the door to receive a parcel and came back speaking German to me. Neither of us noticed for a while. One of us switched back to English and I almost immediately came up with "there's a few things I digged up off Google".

As I say, only when I code-switch.
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS
Signature: Phil White
Non sum felix lepus

Linguistic Dysfunction

Post by minjeff » Fri Nov 18, 2005 10:00 pm

Thanks guys, I didn't want to be going crazy or anything. And agreeing with Phil it does occur more often when I "code-switch". My senior year in highschool I had 1st period German, 2nd Spanish, 3rd French, 4th Spanish (again) and 5th English (followed by Music Theory its own language) so by the end of the day I often had head aches, combined the linguistic bases and didn't know what language I was speaking.
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS
Signature: Letters go together to make words; words go together to make phrases, and phrases sentences, but only in certain combinations. In others they're just non-sense.

Linguistic Dysfunction

Post by Wizard of Oz » Sun Nov 20, 2005 2:07 am

.. so Phil were does the switching from one language to another mid-sentence or for parts of a conversation fit in ?? .. I love listening to my mate George .. Aus born of Greek parents .. speak to his Greek born mother on the phone .. he will start in Greek .. go on then maybe slip in an English word or phrase then back to Greek then suddenly be speaking English and then finish off in Greek .. and all without missing a beat or intonation .. and it is not because he doesn't know the appropriate Greek word as he can speak fluent Greek when needs be ..

WoZ of Aus 20/11/05
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS
Signature: "The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."

Linguistic Dysfunction

Post by Andrew Dalby » Sun Nov 20, 2005 11:40 am

My daughter, born in Britain, lives in Greece. Greek is her third language. Phoning home, she said --

I've just found a new place to live. I went to see it before half an hour.

Before half an hour meant 'half an hour ago' -- Greek/English interference I think.
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS

Linguistic Dysfunction

Post by river » Sun Nov 20, 2005 1:06 pm

Wizard, I believe there is such a thing as Greeklish.
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS
Signature: river

Linguistic Dysfunction

Post by haro » Mon Nov 21, 2005 1:06 am

River, Greeklish does exist, but it's not that funny mixture of English and Greek WoZ described so well. Greeklish is the transliteration technique Greeks often use especially on the Internet when they have to write a Greek text but the operating system or the keyboard doesn't support the Greek alphabet. For instance, in the thread http://www.wordwizard.com/phpbb3/viewtopic.php?t=18497 there is some Greeklish between egodimi and me.
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS
Signature: Hans Joerg Rothenberger
Switzerland

Linguistic Dysfunction

Post by Phil White » Tue Jan 24, 2006 6:07 pm

One thing I have recently noticed (and I suspect it drives you guys up the wall) is that I have started, for no reason that was immediately apparent to me, constructing sentences with significant numbers of parenthetical elements (either in actual parentheses or delimited by commas or dashes), in particular when attempting to describe complex interrelationships.

Thinking about it yesterday, I began to wonder whether this is not an attempt to render German-style speech (and possibly thought) patterns (with which such interrelationships can be far more easily marked).

It is notoriously difficult to answer the question "what language do you think in?", as nobody is entirely clear as to the precise point at which language comes into the thought and verbalization process. When I am considering issues without vocalizing them in discussion with others, but nevertheless verbalizing them in my own mind as I begin to shape them, I suspect that I now only use English for about 50% of the time. I wonder whether the more blatant examples of the excessive use of parenthesis are not the result of a German "preverbalization" phase. In other words, I begin to shape the idea using German linguistic structures, but actually transform this raw material into words in sentences in English.

Merely idle speculation, nothing more.
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS
Signature: Phil White
Non sum felix lepus

Linguistic Dysfunction

Post by Erik_Kowal » Tue Jan 24, 2006 6:33 pm

Or you could be applying a mathematical approach in which you are grouping together related or similar elements in order to perform a linguistic operation on them. (Just think of it as a kind of algebra for words rather than mathematical terms.) Maybe this has a bearing on the reputation that the German culture has for thinking in relatively concrete terms rather than indulging in flights of fancy (as the French are often credited with doing). You will note that this interpretation of your linguistic processes does not necessarily contradict your supposition -- they could both be true.
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS
Signature: -- Looking up a word? Try OneLook's metadictionary (--> definitions) and reverse dictionary (--> terms based on your definitions)8-- Contribute favourite diary entries, quotations and more here8 -- Find new postings easily with Active Topics8-- Want to research a word? Get essential tips from experienced researcher Ken Greenwald

Linguistic Dysfunction

Post by minjeff » Tue Jan 24, 2006 7:42 pm

Exactly, Anja! (and any idiot can figure those three out!)

Also, Phil, I noticed that as my German progressed I, too, began writing in more complex and better organized sentences which sought to clarify and explain as best possible. It makes for an interesting writing style, which most Highschool and even some college English teachers don't really enjoy reading/grading.
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS
Signature: Letters go together to make words; words go together to make phrases, and phrases sentences, but only in certain combinations. In others they're just non-sense.

Linguistic Dysfunction

Post by dalehileman » Tue Jan 24, 2006 8:45 pm

Phil, min: Being German I do that too, composing long, complex sentences but the difference is, folks understand yours
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS

Linguistic Dysfunction

Post by dalehileman » Wed Jan 25, 2006 12:41 am

Anja: Is that a feminine name? If so I love it. You may contact me at dalehileman@verizon.net
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS

Linguistic Dysfunction

Post by Phil White » Wed Jan 25, 2006 8:40 am

Erik,

Exactly that. The intact case structure of German allows you to do precisely what you say, namely to apply linguistic operations to sets of concepts (primarily nouns or noun phrases). It is phenomenally elegant until the approach is mapped to English.
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS
Signature: Phil White
Non sum felix lepus

Linguistic Dysfunction

Post by Erik_Kowal » Wed Jan 25, 2006 7:22 pm

Anja, after reading Mark Twain on the subject of the German language, I am tempted to conclude that you have most likely learned English etc. in an attempt to escape the horrors of the TALE OF THE FISHWIFE AND ITS SAD FATE that Twain described in his own tongue.
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS
Signature: -- Looking up a word? Try OneLook's metadictionary (--> definitions) and reverse dictionary (--> terms based on your definitions)8-- Contribute favourite diary entries, quotations and more here8 -- Find new postings easily with Active Topics8-- Want to research a word? Get essential tips from experienced researcher Ken Greenwald

Post Reply