9 votes
Accepted

How come I cannot get my "oral" English to a native speaker level after 25 years of trying?

It is not clear why some people acquire native-like competence in the spoken aspects of a second language (pronunciation, word boundary identification, etc.). Age has been suggested as a determining ...
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7 votes
Accepted

Why might English be considered easy to learn and why might it be considered difficult?

I think the most difficult thing in English is phonetics. While I can read and write in English well, I still cannot understand anything the news outlets say on the TV, not to say to understand any ...
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  • 6,213
6 votes

Is ending a sentence with a possessive considered informal?

Here are the number of times that each possessive pronoun appeared at the end of each sentence in the British National Corpus per million words: spoken fiction magazine newspaper non-...
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6 votes

Language acquisition by 100% immersion -- any cases you know of?

Do linguistic field workers count? In this case I offer the case of Daniel Everett who learned the Pirahã language from scratch by contact with the native people without having any common language. Of ...
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5 votes

Beginner to Dutch language: should I translate Dutch to English or to German?

In my experience learning 8+ languages, the best approach is to use the best translation (etymologically, or in terms of meaning) and/or explanation in language that I understand. That closeness ...
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5 votes

The benefits of studying a second language with word-by-word translations in one's mother tongue

I don't know of actual research, but from my personal experience: I agree that word-by-word translations will on the one hand lack features that are not available in the target language and on the ...
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  • 6,120
4 votes
Accepted

What sub-field in linguistics should I study to help me learn foreign languages?

Let me share with you an experience I had in learning Russian. I was utterly incapable of pronouncing the (stressed) high central vowel transcribed y (such as in the name Gromyko). The best I could ...
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  • 232
4 votes

What sub-field in linguistics should I study to help me learn foreign languages?

The answer to the headline question is very simple. None. Do what millions of successful language learners (and teachers) do, completely ignore linguistics. Just compare linguists and historians - you'...
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4 votes

Where is American English not chosen as the dialect of English taught as a second language?

There is generally no single policy across different countries as to what English is taught across the board. Countries in Europe and Asia default to British English - the most popular textbooks (...
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4 votes

How "fluent" do professional classicists get in reading Latin and Greek? How do they do it?

Until fairly recently, pupils in elite schools in European countries began learning Latin and Greek at a very early age, and gained a high level of fluency before going on to university; this included ...
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  • 22.6k
4 votes
Accepted

I don't know what my L1 is and want to find out

You have to first determine how you are going to define "L1", which isn't a scientific term in linguistics. It sort of stands for "first language", in which case Russian is your L1. Though perhaps ...
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  • 66.6k
4 votes

Is it possible to talk about two different phonemes if they always have the same manifestations?

This (strong absolute neutralization) is theoretically possible although has not yet been shown to exist. The closest case is Yawelmani, where the phonemes u:, o: are realized as [o:] everywhere. ...
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  • 66.6k
4 votes
Accepted

Is it possible to speak like a native speaker of English by mastering the phonology?

Learning the rules of phonology in a language might make the lowest levels of acquisition easier in some languages that have complicated phonologies (such as first-year Arabic or Klamath), perhaps 10% ...
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  • 66.6k
4 votes
Accepted

How to read and understand linguistics articles?

This suggests a possible meta-study on intelligibility of technical works by native and non-native speakers. A technical paper in phonology might be unintelligible because of the linguistic structure ...
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  • 66.6k
4 votes

Are markedness and the Sonority Sequencing Principle both language universals?

It has been claimed that markedness and sonority sequencing are universals, but whether or not they are depends very much on what is meant by "universal". The usual understanding of the ...
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  • 66.6k
4 votes

Language acquisition by 100% immersion -- any cases you know of?

I bet historically that was not an uncommon occurrence up to the early 20th century. Nakahama Manjirō springs to mind, who was shipwrecked off the coast of Japan and then immersed himself in the ...
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  • 4,652
4 votes

Language acquisition by 100% immersion -- any cases you know of?

I recently learned about William Buckley on the Futility Closet podcast. Buckley was an English escaped convict who lived with Indigenous Australians for decades. He learned the language of the people ...
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  • 141
3 votes

What method of teaching foreign languages is more effective?

Everybody learns languages differently, depending on how they learned their own languages, how close the language they're learning is to them, what their motivations are, how hard they work, whether ...
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  • 9,607
3 votes

Why might English be considered easy to learn and why might it be considered difficult?

Really, it depends on what language you're coming from. For example, a lot of people struggle with the phonology of the language because there is a lot more to it than their native language. If you'...
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3 votes

Am I a native English speaker? (born I Hungary, lived in US from age 3)

There is no straightforward definition of what constitutes a native speaker. This is partly because there's no straightforward definition of what constitutes a language. There are vast differences ...
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3 votes

Common problems in second language pronunciation

For learning a language primarily from books, intonation and other suprasegmentals should be the most difficult, simply because non-segmental information is not shown in our writing systems. You can'...
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  • 12.3k
3 votes

Languages where the prestige or standard variety is not "clear" or "distinct"?

There are doubtless many languages where the prestige idiom is “clearer” than many non-prestige dialects. But I can think of counter-examples. In the non-prestige “rustic” dialects of Southern France (...
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  • 22.6k
3 votes

Are there any tools on the market that employ prosodic research to help overcome speech impediments?

There is some software available. For instance, the Get Rid of Your Accent app and the many Speech Therapy Apps. When it comes to speech therapy dealing with impediments, this is often so highly ...
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3 votes

How can you learn to read older dialects of your first language(s)?

One approach that linguists use is to train themselves in reverse chronological order. I'd suggest you do the same: Read a few hundred pages in each century, going backwards. Choose similar genres ...
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3 votes

Are there resources that exploit phones of English, to teach how to phonate all IPA phones?

Addressing the question in the title, the answer is no, because no single language has all phones. The question is somewhat ill-conceived, being framed in terms of "phones", since a "phone" is a ...
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  • 66.6k
3 votes

I don't know what my L1 is and want to find out

How is "L1" used in these texts you're reading? Is it a) about the influence of the L1 on the syntax and pronunciation of the L2? b) is it just about the L2 label for a new adult learned language? ...
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  • 4,314
3 votes

How to know whether a word is context appropriate?

When I was learning German I was advised to buy a Stilwörterbuch (by Duden, as I recall) which provides this kind of context and usage. It's used like a dictionary, in that you look up the word (e.g. ...
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3 votes
Accepted

Ease of L2 acquisition of SOV and SVO/VSO word order

Many SOV languages are head final. Korean and Japanese are famous examples. In head final languages, sentences that begin with a subordinate clause are temporarily ambiguous. In other words, the ...
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3 votes

Speakers of a foreign language in a nation sounding similar in 'mispronunciations'

In some cases this would likely be due to L1 transfer and differences in the markedness of features between the L1 and target language. Markedness in second language acquisition refers to a closed set ...
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  • 106
3 votes

Speakers of a foreign language in a nation sounding similar in 'mispronunciations'

In part, it is due to a third factor, the local dialect of L2. In the case of French as taught in the US, to the extent that there is a characteristic American-accented version of French, it is ...
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  • 66.6k

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