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Price of Polyglottery - New Prof

 Language Learning Forum : Lessons in Polyglottery Post Reply
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Sterogyl
Diglot
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Germany
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152 posts - 263 votes 
Studies: German*, French, EnglishC2
Studies: Japanese, Norwegian

 
 Message 57 of 90
04 October 2013 at 5:22pm | IP Logged 
@Tarvos: What you write makes perfect sense, I don't need C1 or C2 in all my hobby languages, either. But we're talking about a sort of language degree that will be granted by the institute, the curriculum of which consists of studying languages. How would it look like if one doesn't even "master" (let's say, C1) a single one of those languages after obtaining the degree... not so good.
Did you read the schedule proposed by Arguelles? It is too much... one hour here, one hour there, but imho not enough to master one language within that time.

By the way, your English is very, very good. But imagine your English, French or whatever strong languages you have wouldn't be better than your currently weakest language. Wouldn't that be terrible and wouldn't you feel the urge to at least become good at one first? There are polyglots who do suffer this fate.

@Josquin: I don't despise literature. It isn't the "Great Books" themselves I don't like, I was actually referring to the "encyclopedic mind" he sets as the goal of polyliteracy. What is the use in using exclusively old works of literature to achieve that goal? I don't have anything against old books, in fact I read a lot of 19th century French, German and English literature myself and I enjoy it very much, I even have a degree in philology. But this point just raises questions. I suspect that Arguelles kind of likes the idea of realizing his own 19th century scholar dream. Yes, indeed, I also think he is a dreamer. With which I sympathize a lot, but in my opinion there's reason to doubt the practical use and the applicability of such a degree.
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jeff_lindqvist
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Speaks: Swedish*, English
Studies: German, Spanish, Russian, Dutch, Mandarin, Esperanto, Irish, French
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 Message 58 of 90
04 October 2013 at 5:35pm | IP Logged 
From http://www.foreignlanguageexpertise.com/about.html:

"While there, I single-handedly designed and implemented a Great Books reading and discussion core curriculum for the whole institution of 4000+ students."

"From 2006-2008, I was a visiting professor at New College of California in San Francisco, where I taught Great Books courses in the Far Eastern and Middle Eastern traditions as well as a linguistics practicum on efficient language acquisition through self-study."

"I chose to attend Columbia University because I was attracted to its Great Books core curriculum and because I wished to return to New York City, so I received my undergraduate formation there from 1982-1986."

And then the long list of Great Books:
http://www.foreignlanguageexpertise.com/great_books.html
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Josquin
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Germany
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 Message 59 of 90
04 October 2013 at 5:47pm | IP Logged 
@Stereogyl: I see, but I don't think Professor Arguelles confines his canon of "Great Books" to the past. The Great Books list on his homepage consciously leaves out the 20th century, probably in order to keep things manageable. He says there is a "waiting list" for the 20th century, but unfortunately the link doesn't work.

I agree that the actual outcome of a degree in polyliteracy might be debatable. But as far as I understand the Professor's homepage, he expects students to study for eight hours a day, similar to the way he studied languages while living in Korea. I guess that curriculum wouldn't be for the faint of heart, so my question is how many students could really live up to the Professor's standards. He surely has an elitist approach, which might be rather unrealistic.

Edited by Josquin on 04 October 2013 at 5:48pm

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Juаn
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Colombia
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 Message 61 of 90
04 October 2013 at 5:52pm | IP Logged 
Volte wrote:
The "Great Books" are generally not particularly flowery... They are often considered "Great" for the impact that their content had on the development of ideas, rather than their style.


Yes. That, and for their capacity to impact our mind and spirit centuries or millennia after they were written.

It is the "flowery" and meaningless that gets forgotten.
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tarvos
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China
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Speaks: Dutch*, English, Swedish, French, Russian, German, Italian, Norwegian, Mandarin, Romanian, Afrikaans
Studies: Greek, Modern Hebrew, Spanish, Portuguese, Czech, Korean, Esperanto, Finnish

 
 Message 62 of 90
04 October 2013 at 6:03pm | IP Logged 
Sterogyl wrote:
@Tarvos: What you write makes perfect sense, I don't need C1 or C2 in
all my hobby languages, either. But we're talking about a sort of language degree that
will be granted by the institute, the curriculum of which consists of studying
languages. How would it look like if one doesn't even "master" (let's say, C1) a single
one of those languages after obtaining the degree... not so good.
Did you read the schedule proposed by Arguelles? It is too much... one hour here, one
hour there, but imho not enough to master one language within that time.

By the way, your English is very, very good. But imagine your English, French or
whatever strong languages you have wouldn't be better than your currently weakest
language. Wouldn't that be terrible and wouldn't you feel the urge to at least become
good at one first? There are polyglots who do suffer this fate.


After a degree of three years at least focused on languages and not mastering even one?
Like French or German (which you should be able to read according to the curriculum?) I
think his curriculum is rather dense on the number of study hours. But I'd certainly
try and go and get some certificates for my French and German beforehand (which I've
already studied) so I'd be able to at least skip the first year introductions to those
languages (although I would have to brush up substantially on my German). My problem is
that the requirements for the European track are so stringent with regards to having to
do Greek, Russian and Irish. Prior knowledge notwithstanding, I'd rather be given the
choice between, say, Russian, Czech, and Serbo-Croatian (for a Slavic language), the
choice between Irish and Welsh, and a choice between Greek or some other Indo-European
language (Armenian jumps to mind, or something like Spanish or Portuguese).

I have a hard time imagining the second thing due to growing up bilingually. I learned
English from kindergarten onwards, so there's really no way I can satisfactorily answer
that question of yours, but it used to be worse during the time that I had poor A2-B1
French and German next to fluent Dutch and English. But even then I managed to use
German succesfully and I eventually improved my French before I even thought about
polyglottery (and Russian was the gateway to that). So no, I never felt the urge to
become good at one first. I always was good at one already and simply assumed "then
I'll do the rest without problems too". I try not to think in terms of perfectionism
but I think in terms of doing stuff and then perfection comes with time. And if it
doesn't then well wooplah, I can use what I have. Even when I spoke terrible French,
when we were abroad, I usually did the talking in French and German for my friends and
family because they prefer to let me muddle with it. And I usually did that with
success.

As regards literature, everyone has their opinion. But quality depends on the writer,
not on the date of the book. People do call classics classics for a reason, but that is
because people are in awe of people who write long, complex and poetic sentences that
nobody understands. I don't find that impressive precisely because it is long, complex
and poetic and nobody understands. Art should be accessible to everyone and not just a
select few who think better. The real classic authors are those who remain enjoyed by
people over time because they wrote things that every man can relate to. And I cannot
relate to dusty old books very well, sadly, though I have had to read a couple of them.
But I would rather not. I live in the 21st century. I'd like to read something that
appeals to me, and tales of maidens and lasses and Pushkin love triangles to me
resembles something that I could only take seriously if it was written with a huge dose
of irony.

(Consequently my favourite Russian author is Dostoevsky because he wrote Notes from
Underground.)








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montmorency
Diglot
Senior Member
United Kingdom
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Studies: Danish, Welsh

 
 Message 63 of 90
04 October 2013 at 8:58pm | IP Logged 
Josquin wrote:
@Stereogyl: I see, but I don't think Professor Arguelles confines his
canon of "Great Books" to the past. The Great Books list on his homepage consciously
leaves out the 20th century, probably in order to keep things manageable. He says there
is a "waiting list" for the 20th century, but unfortunately the link doesn't work.

I agree that the actual outcome of a degree in polyliteracy might be debatable. But as
far as I understand the Professor's homepage, he expects students to study for eight
hours a day, similar to the way he studied languages while living in Korea. I guess
that curriculum wouldn't be for the faint of heart, so my question is how many students
could really live up to the Professor's standards. He surely has an elitist approach,
which might be rather unrealistic.



Quote:

It is generally considered to be very difficult if not actually impossible to learn
many languages well. It is indeed demanding, but I always had the feeling that the
education I myself received was never demanding enough. Thus, I propose Polyglottery as
a course of education that will indeed be more demanding than the most demanding
programs currently in existence, and with the specific goal of encouraging the reading
of great books, not in translation, but in the original.


(From his Great Books webpage, the paragraph headed "Great Books in my own Education
and in Polyliteracy").


I suppose you could call that elitist.


Since he has clearly stated his love of reading books, I see no reason for anyone to
question whether he has read many in those languages which are his strong ones. For
him, polyliteracy and the reading of Great Books go hand in hand.

That page only lists books representing Western Civilisation, with unfilled headings
reserved for the other civilisations.

At the bottom, he asks people to contact him with any suggestions for corrections or
additions, particularly to the embryonic exotic lists. So those who want to know
whether he has read any, for example Chinese or Japanese might do well to send him
suggestions of their own, and in doing so, may find out whether he has read them or
not.
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