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Price of Polyglottery - New Prof

 Language Learning Forum : Lessons in Polyglottery Post Reply
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Retinend
Triglot
Senior Member
SpainRegistered users can see my Skype Name
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283 posts - 557 votes 
Speaks: English*, German, Spanish
Studies: Arabic (Written), French

 
 Message 41 of 90
30 September 2013 at 2:47pm | IP Logged 
I don't think I said anything factually wrong. Your field has shrunk and its discoveries have slowed
down. I never said that historical linguistics was dead. That I took as impressive the legacy of 19th
century philologists with people like the Grimm brothers in mind shouldn't pass for anything but a
bland acknowledgement. You're throwing your weight around but all you're saying is that it's still a
"strong tradition" and that it's "highly productive," but what about an objective measure of its
"vitality"? You're not a good judge of the vitality of a field that you're clearly deeply immersed in.
You're playing dumb by completely denying that the field is untarnished by the broader changes that
I've been relaying. It's been taken for granted in this thread up until your post that historical
linguistics has been in decline. Has it been said that the quality of scholarship has declined, or
that no work is being done in the field? No, but it has presumed to have declined at least in
numbers of university positions teaching it, students learning it, books written about it and
reportage of its subject matter in the popular press. Convince me that THAT hasn't happened, rather
than convincing me that you believe in the worth of your own vocation.


But really my post, rather than about "summarising" your field, was about the other - younger -
current of linguistics, which is asking questions which have nothing to do with the tradition of the
humanities.
1 person has voted this message useful



Sterogyl
Diglot
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Germany
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 Message 42 of 90
04 October 2013 at 9:20am | IP Logged 
The speech is quite interesting, although nothing really new to us Arguelles "followers".

I have to say that I can't quite agree with everything he says in his speech. For instance, why is studying many languages at the same time not forcibly detrimental to the speed of acquisition and the depth of knowledge of each single language? It doesn't make sense: If I studied one language for 8 hours a day, I would achieve quicker progress and would become more proficient in it than if I studied 16 languages a day in allocated time slots of 30 minutes each.

This is really a point where I cannot agree with Professor Arguelles. I still think it's better to concentrate on few languages and become really good at them, rather than to get a smattering of many, many languages at the same time (I'm talking about his polyglot institute here, which as a degree-granting institute would also take a certain prevocational role). No one can tell me you get functional or proficient in Chinese when studying it one hour a day for 3 years (alongside of other languages). You'll probably end up being a linguistic "jack-of-all-trades", not proficient in any of those foreign languages. So what would be the use of such an institute? Just "learning how to learn languages" and developing an "encyclopedic mind" through the lecture of "Great (but very old) Books"? There is a reason why he now calls it polyliteracy, because the way of studying he proposes (many languages at once) may lead to a good reading ability (at least in some languages, not in the exotic ones), but will not result in active mastery.

I can, however, imagine to attend the institute for a limited time, e.g. four weeks, as an inspiration or mental refection.

Don't get me wrong, I really like the professor and find him very inspiring, but that doesn't mean I have to buy into everything he says...

By the way, did you read the announcement on the PIFLSS website?

"Please be patient as the future of PIFLSS is determined."
( http://www.piflss.com/ )

I'm eager to know what'll happen next!
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jeff_lindqvist
Diglot
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 Message 44 of 90
04 October 2013 at 11:47am | IP Logged 
Sterogyl wrote:
For instance, why is studying many languages at the same time not forcibly detrimental to the speed of acquisition and the depth of knowledge of each single language? It doesn't make sense: If I studied one language for 8 hours a day, I would achieve quicker progress and would become more proficient in it than if I studied 16 languages a day in allocated time slots of 30 minutes each.
(...)
You'll probably end up being a linguistic "jack-of-all-trades", not proficient in any of those foreign languages.


Synergy effect, anyone? I know plenty who have devoted a lot of time to several sports/music instruments/etc. and are quite successful (not on a world professional level, but still quite good).

If you manage to study a single language for 8 hours, fine. Some people don't, and will find it easier do one hour here, one hour there. Some are fanatic about over-learning, other say there's no point in cramming a language. There is no consensus on when it's "best to stop studying".

See Man who chases two hares catches neither for some thoughts.
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Sterogyl
Diglot
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Germany
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Studies: German*, French, EnglishC2
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 Message 45 of 90
04 October 2013 at 12:07pm | IP Logged 
Synergy effect: It depends on the languages. Italian and French: Yes. Italian and Chinese: No.

I would like to recall that Prof. Arguelles himself stated in his speech that only a very small percentage of the world's population has what it takes to become a polyglot.
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Josquin
Heptaglot
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 Message 46 of 90
04 October 2013 at 12:11pm | IP Logged 
Sterogyl wrote:
the lecture of "Great (but very old) Books"?

What the hell is that supposed to mean? Classics have become classics because they have stood the test of time. All philologies deal with "very old" books, so why should the Professor promote Harry Potter at his institute? If you're ignorant about literature then why not just say so?
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Sterogyl
Diglot
Senior Member
Germany
Joined 2798 days ago

152 posts - 263 votes 
Studies: German*, French, EnglishC2
Studies: Japanese, Norwegian

 
 Message 47 of 90
04 October 2013 at 12:19pm | IP Logged 
@Josquin: You didn't get my point, sorry. It's not about Harry Potter. I was talking about the actual use of such a degree (a degree in polyliteracy at the PIFLSS). And don't be so agressive, doesn't make you look prettier.
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tarvos
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China
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Studies: Greek, Modern Hebrew, Spanish, Portuguese, Czech, Korean, Esperanto, Finnish

 
 Message 48 of 90
04 October 2013 at 12:28pm | IP Logged 
Quote:
This is really a point where I cannot agree with Professor Arguelles. I still
think it's better to concentrate on few languages and become really good at them,
rather than to get a smattering of many, many languages at the same time (I'm talking
about his polyglot institute here, which as a degree-granting institute would also take
a certain prevocational role). No one can tell me you get functional or proficient in
Chinese when studying it one hour a day for 3 years (alongside of other languages).
You'll probably end up being a linguistic "jack-of-all-trades", not proficient in any
of those foreign languages. So what would be the use of such an institute? Just
"learning how to learn languages" and developing an "encyclopedic mind" through the
lecture of "Great (but very old) Books"? There is a reason why he now calls it
polyliteracy, because the way of studying he proposes (many languages at once) may lead
to a good reading ability (at least in some languages, not in the exotic ones), but
will not result in active mastery.


I'm only really good at two, maybe three languages. That's very useful and I would like
to have super-thorough knowledge of these languages (in my case Dutch, English and
French). But I don't understand how that translates into not studying any of the other
ones. I speak seven languages at a level of B1+ at least. All of these languages imply
that I can (and I have done so) communicate without much strain (in some languages none
at all) for either party. These are all extremely useful in many situations. I also
speak at least two languages on a level where basic communication is possible and I
could be touristic in them (although one language is rare so I wouldn't really get an
opportunity).

I don't need to impress you or anybody else by speaking all languages at native-level.
It really doesn't matter. I only need native or near-native levels in languages I have:
- lots of family in (Dutch)
- provide work opportunities (English, French, Dutch to a lesser extent)
- have lived in the country where the language is spoken (Dutch, English, French).
- have a spouse/partner that speaks that language (none currently, but Romanian fell in
this category).

In all other languages, I only need something that is good enough to travel around the
country and make strain for either party not an issue when communicating. I've been
able to do this in German and Russian, and I've had encounters in Swedish and Romanian
but have not done the requisite travelling yet, although I used to have a situation in
which Romanian and Hebrew might have been relevant for more than just travel (but now
it is not so). I have had many funny encounters in Russia, even though my Russian is
horribly lacking in quite a few respects, and I have been able to have a splendid
experience there. I didn't need C2 for that, B1-B2 thereabouts functioned very well. I
spent six days at a friend who showed me all the corners of a Siberian town. I spoke
with an old man about history, engineering and the downfall of democracy in Russia.
About current society. I made fun of a racist douchebag in Vladivostok with another
Russian girl because we could use Russian as a secret language. I spent two nights in a
coupé in platskartny with a family with a one-year-old kid that I needed to keep at bay
- in Russian.

I didn't need C2 for that. All I needed was a decent grasp of the language, some social
skills, context, and the willingness to make it work. And those experiences (plus about
a hundred other ones) are very real, very useful, and they're why I do this. You simply
cannot get the same amount of experience when travelling if you don't speak the local
language somewhat where you go, and the fact I neglected to work on my French for two
years while being in Brussels at least once every month, and having some strange
experiences because of that is something that still rankles in my veins. It wasn't
until I moved there temporarily and was forced to speak French all day that I got the
hang, the meaning and the motivation to do it. And the meagre B1-ish French I was at
was more than sufficient and the French people with whom I lived appreciated the
effort.

I do not need to win quality contests. If I did, I would probably just learn exquisite
English. No, I want to have experiences that allow me to connect with people, their
culture, their history, and language is a vehicle to do exactly this. I will learn a
language to a professionally useful level if there exists a need for me to do so (a
permanent move, a job requirement, or a spouse), but else I'll happily become a
dilettante who speaks 20 languages imperfectly (of which about 3-4 very well). Because
the other 16 are more than useful in many situations even if they're not shiny and
polished.

Edited by tarvos on 04 October 2013 at 12:40pm



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