Can I invent a language to help to learn another language?

Paul M   Thursday, April 29, 2004, 02:07 GMT
I've been thinking..
I've found that the biggest problem in learning a language is the frustration and long period time you have to take before you'd be able to utter simple sentence in foreign language, especially if the target language is very different from your first one.

Say your mother tongue is language A and you'd like to learn language B.
Do you think it'd be possible to somehow combine the two languages and invent a sort of intermediate language "C" that can bridge your learning towards the target language B? If you can somehow adopt the phonics of the target language and very basic grammer with the vocabulary of language A, do you think it would encourage the learner to gradually adapt the target language or would it just confuse the hell out of the learner.. :)
Willy   Thursday, April 29, 2004, 02:10 GMT
I am agreed.
Paul M   Thursday, April 29, 2004, 02:12 GMT
Please.. I'm serious.
Willy   Thursday, April 29, 2004, 02:34 GMT
I think spelling reform could be used for ESOL as an alternative spelling to teach them the pronunciation.
Pentatonic   Thursday, April 29, 2004, 04:11 GMT
There is a commercial product called Powerglide that does something similar and uses a story approach. The story to learn German would start out in English then gradually replace English words with the German equivalent.

For example, the story might start out:
Willy wants to implement a spelling reform in an American Stadt (city). He figures that this will cost lots of Geld (money) since every book, street sign, etc., will have to be changed. Americans have been trying unsuccessfully since the 1970's to adopt something as practical as the metric system but that doesn't stop Willy who ...

Then eventually the story is completely in German, something like:
Willy, wollen wir heute zusammen in die Stadt fahren? Gerne. Aber vorher möchte ich noch zur Bank gehen. Ich muß Geld abheben ...

Then Willy and his buddy Hans go about implementing a spelling reform while talking in German. OK, I don't actually know what the story is about since I haven't purchased the course but it seems like a good idea.

You could do something similar and if you used hypertext for the new words and linked them to a popup definition or something, you could eventually post your story and help others. It would be quite a challenge, especially if you were trying to learn language B yourself and probably would require the help of a native speaker to correct your mistakes.

As far as an intermediate language goes, it's an interesting idea but seems like wasted energy to me. I think that an important part of learning a language is learning to think in it rather than translating in your head. You have to get a feel for word combinations that might sound like total nonsense in your native language. The best way to do that is just to see and hear them as they are written and spoken enough times until you start to pick up the patterns. What at first looks like jibberish will eventually seem perfectly normal with enough exposure.
Willy   Thursday, April 29, 2004, 06:38 GMT
If Pentatonic asks me a question in German, I won't understand him. English has too much exposure, but my weird spelling reform could be normal and substitute the complicated ones.

Do you think it's good idea to accept the common or proper names in other languages as they are used in my language, when we have symbols to translate those words?
Willy   Thursday, April 29, 2004, 06:40 GMT
Thus I do think it is a good idea, isn't it?
nic   Thursday, April 29, 2004, 07:51 GMT
To invent an intermediate language (A) to help to learn a language (B), don't you think there is a risk of confusion?

Example (is it a good one?) : a french who learn spanish (or vice versa) will use many words which are close in the 2 languages but do not have the same meaning. A french who learn for example russian, must learn everything and there is not any risk like there is in spanish.

Whe you learn a language, difficulties aren't the same (it does not mean one of the language is harder or easie).
I think the most important when you learn a language is to understand the culture who has build that language. When you understand how a culture works it becomes easier to learn and to use their language. History is important in a language, it reflects a point of view, a kind of life. Why sun is feminine in german, whay is it masculin in french, spanish, italian.
Boy   Thursday, April 29, 2004, 08:11 GMT
Infact, I speak language "C" in my daily life. It is a mixture of English words, expressions alongwith words and expressions of my mother tongue. No confusion at all. In fact, some English words come naturally while I speak sentences in my mother tongue.

Chill down, man tum ko angry houney ki zaroorat nahee hey.
I used two English words in the above sentence of my mother tongue.

Though I'm not sure it really helps me to write and speak English fluently.
Simon   Thursday, April 29, 2004, 08:17 GMT
Maybe it's not exactly the same thing but in Brussels the fact that there are two official languages French/Dutch and English is widely used means that there is high tolerance to non-perfect command of these. For example, the socially acceptable level of French is lower than that expected in France. Plus, speakers of multiple languages tend to add words of another into their speech, with much less reservation than in monolingual areas. As a result, the pressure is reduced and this might be a little of what you are talking about.
Paul M   Thursday, April 29, 2004, 10:08 GMT
Yup, that's what I'm talking about Simon. To reduce the overwhelming feeling you get when you try to jump from A to B.
In other words, I'm trying to find out the way to lower the barrier that the learners face when dealing with a foreign language, and encourage the learner to consciosly and unconsciously to practice the target language even in his native environment.

I speak Korean and I'm learning English.
Fact is, the two languages are so different that most of the English learners in Korea tend to concentrate just one aspect of the new language or try to take a short cut and end up with little result..

The intermediate language I was talking about would have every linguistic aspects of English including pronunciations, culture, way of expression, grammar..etd.. except key vocabularies. The key vocabularies (simple present tense verbs and nouns) would be pronounced using English phonetic rules with English like accent instead of korean one and its variants should follow English like transformations. (ie: suffix or tense making) The vocabularies would be kind of limited since it's not easy to find words that can be used with flexibility I want..

When a Korean hear this language C, he can somehow recognise lots of words (which doesn't quite sound like they used to, mind you), and because he understands what the speaker is trying to say almost perfectly, he can deduce the emotions and ideas behind of that of English as well (hopefully..), not to mention it would improve the learner's confidence in the target language when he faces it eventually and gradually, it can be a good practice of pronouncing the difficult sound of the English..

I don't know, it might be just a crazy thought..

And speaking of thoughts..

I think it might help the learner to learn the target language's grammar naturally and hence help him to "think" in that language as well..
Chilli   Thursday, April 29, 2004, 10:41 GMT
I'm not sure it would work. For example, you might speak English or Chinese, where word-order is very important in defining the subject and object of a sentence, and you might be trying to learn French or German where inflections are used to define the subject and object of the sentence. In that case, how would you find a medium? You wouldn't be able to do a half-way-analytic-half-way-isolated language, because it would have to be either one or the other, or a jumbled up mess.

And if the languages were very similar to start with, an intermediate language wouldn't be necessary.
Dulcinea del Toboso   Saturday, May 01, 2004, 03:53 GMT
Your problem is similar to mine many years ago. I wanted to learn Russian and my native language is English, which is quite different both in terms of vocabulary and grammatical structure. Even worse, I was terrible in understanding even the basic concepts of languages and linguistics. Simple aspects of English grammar, such as nouns, adjectives, and verbs were a mystery to me. However, not only was I successful in mastering Russian (my first job was as a translator), but I went on to learn several other languages and even invented a few of my own. My strong desire to learn Russian led to an understanding of grammar and a love for languages and linguistics.

That said, I do not think it is helpful to create an intermediate language to help you proceed from your native language to your new language. The reason is that you need to develop an intuitive "feel" for the new language: its word order, its choice of words, the way expressions are formed. The last (and possibly the worst) thing you can do in learning a new language is to perform an internal translation in your head between your native language and the new one. For that very reason, I believe an intermediate language adds another level of processing you will have to learn and I believe that effort would be better spent in thoughtful study of the new language itself.
Paul M   Sunday, May 02, 2004, 00:20 GMT
Thanks guys and gals for your kind replies.

Chlli, I think I see what you mean.
You are right that it's one way or the other. But then is there an altertive.. I mean, when the exposure of the language is just not good enough, what would be the best way to close the gap when it's so difficult to explain why things are like that...

Can you please share some tips on how I can go about to develop the intuitive feel for the new language.. Were there any special techniques you used or any aid that might help me to achieve that..
Willy   Sunday, May 02, 2004, 04:58 GMT
I've never meant that the spelling reform is more appropriate than ours. It's just to see how our spelling would be easier to spell as agreed with the pronunciation always.