The bilingual problem revisited

Jagoda Ratajczak, kategoria: Some linguistics...

What seems obvious is not that obvious. The term „bilingualism” is now used quite freely, but do we know what bilingualism really is? Who is a bilingual? When do you become bilingual? Who is a monolingual, and do these people actually exist? A bit of theory supported by the authors who turned my thinking upside down: starting with Bloomfield, to Chomsky and Macnamara, to Grosjean. And a bit of disillusionment to boot ;)

Each time I read the classic works of some distinguished linguists, I am amazed to realize that they presented their concepts with such serene confidence. What amazes me even more is that what followed the presentation of those very concepts was humble acceptance. No doubts expressed and no questions asked: „on what grounds exactly did you draw your conclusions?” This polite inquiry is now the most obvious question to ask someone who presents their viewpoint, be it on linguistics or anything else. Today’s academia have seen and heard it all, so don’t kid yourself that you could advocate your theory with the idealistic „I just believe it to be true”. That would only give the audience a roll on the floor. Przeczytaj Całość »

Who cares about (psycho)linguistics? An introduction

Jagoda Ratajczak, kategoria: Some linguistics...

What you’re going to read in this section are neither typical scientific analyses nor their imitations: these are writings on language which is here analysed and discussed from the point of view of a psycholinguistics fan, interested in the backstage of language acquisition/ processing and the relationship between language and mind. Why in English? This is the language which I have always used when writing about linguistics, the area described mainly in English by not necessarily English scholars. Writing in English then, is not so much a student habit as a prerequisite to become a part of the linguistic community. Here is the introduction-some explanation, some background, some insight and hopefully, an incentive to read and get familiar with the outrageously underrated, yet incredibly thought-provoking area of linguistics- psycholinguistics.

Who cares about linguistics? Hardly anyone, although care they should. From the point of view of a language learner with a fairly utilitarian attitude towards language itself, delving into linguistics is as practical as disassembling a car engine in order to learn how to drive.  We would survive without linguistics-but you can either just survive or live your life with full awareness of what you do and why you do it. To me, linguistics, or to be more precise, psycholinguistics, goes far beyond theoretical writings and art for art’s sake created by and for those who have too much free time.  As I found out after many years of hard work and pushing my way through my fossilised, native language-based mentality onto the new, bilingual perception of things, linguistics asks and sometimes answers the very same questions which every aware and passionate language learner simply has to ask him or herself on the very same way towards bilingualism. Not all of those questions have been or will be answered- after all, language is an individual experience and each of those experiences may create a new question, new doubt and ultimately, a unique approach towards using and understanding the language itself. That’s why each and everyone’s experience, idea, suggestion and observation MAY be an additional component in the pot called language studies. Hardly ever are any answers clear-cut, which may serve as an argument for the so called hardcore-scientists considering linguistics a faux science that creates more questions than answers; to me, though, linguistics is food for thought rather than a tool which puts reality in order. Linguistics did establish certain rules and patterns which have to be acknowledged in any discussion (just like it happens in physics or maths), but it never defies new variables …it welcomes them. Przeczytaj Całość »