Linguistic Dysfunction

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Linguistic Dysfunction

Post by Edwin Ashworth » Wed Feb 08, 2006 9:09 am

Reminds me of the old joke - "We used to call the stray that wandered in 'Ben' - until it had kittens. Now we call it 'Ben-Her'."
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Linguistic Dysfunction

Post by sionnachrua » Sun Feb 19, 2006 8:58 pm

Phil - I whooped for joy when I read your post! For years, I've suffered from a disturbing tendency to write sentences that end up having more sets of nested parentheses than can be considered healthy. Even though I try to keep it in check, the sentences seem to form that way in my mind. I had never made the connection - until now - that it might have something to do with having learned German in secondary school and having studied in Berlin for a couple of years.

Erik's comment also makes perfect sense, as I did major in maths in college, which probably reinforced a certain pattern of thinking and formulating arguments.

As far as interference goes, I've found that it's only if I've been with non-English speaking people for weeks, and if I'm totally knackered, that another language will actually interfere with my English. In contrast, these days if I try to speak Irish - a language I was fairly fluent in when I finished high school - I'll end up with about a 20% substitution of German words. It seems to have something to do with general similarity in the sounds of the words (in particular the 'ch' sound that is common to both German and Irish), as German almost never interferes if I'm trying to speak Spanish (but French will, and vice versa). I think the mathematical term that applies to the interference phenomenon between various languages is 'equivalence classes'. At least in my experience. Reading through this string again, I notice that Erik made this point very early on.

I'm so pleased to have an explanation for my parenthetical excesses. Should have known that two years in Germany wouldn't leave a person completely unscathed.

David
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