re: Something more to put after the full stop.

Subject: re: Something more to put after the full stop.
From: Sean Hower <hokumhome -at- freehomepage -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 23 Jul 2002 14:59:54 -0700 (PDT)

Mark Emson wrote:
On the subject of native speakers, it has occurred to me that maybe
native speakers are at a disadvantage when set against the educated
'foreigner'. As infants we learn by example and only learn the 'rules' when we go to school. As an adult student we already understand the concept of language and this time we learn the real rules of the new language because now, as adults, we need also to understand the subject, not just apply it.

That's probably a good interpretation of the situation. I would think that learners of a second/foreign language end up getting a clearer understanding of meta-language about the language they're studying.

When you say "the real rules" what are you referring to?

Having studied several languages from different language families, it seems that the way you learn to speak in a foreign language class is based on the prescriptive grammar of the language. These are the rules that the dominant political and social structure of the society impose. Whether these rules are real or not depends on, IMHO, how closely they match the speach patterns of the language's native speakers.

For instance, I learned Tokyo dialect Japanese, which is different from other dialects, like Oosaka dialect (I think that's what it's called). That dialect is different enough that when you watch Japanese TV, a translation into Tokyo dialect is provided. (I'm stretching my memory here. I could be wrong on this. If anyone else knows, let me know. hehe) No matter what dialect they speak, the person speaking is still a Japanese person. The dialect is recognized by a large group of Japanese people as Jbeing apanese. So which one is the "real" one? This is the problem of prescriptive grammar.

As someone once said, "A language is just a dialect with an army and a navy."

Sean Hower - tech writer

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