Linguistics for non-linguists

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langmon
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Linguistics for non-linguists

Postby langmon » 2018-11-10, 7:24

First of all, I am aware of the fact that there is a dedicated linguistics thread.
But at least to me, it seems that there still would be a reason for opening the one you are reading right now, because I am not really asking an in-depth linguistics question.

This is about something different. It is about how exactly reading more about linguistics could help learning languages in the way I do it, i.e. by immersion and exposure only. That also includes looking up unknown words and reading textbooks that contain grammar explanations. However, I entirely avoid intentional attempts of memorizing words, grammar or anything else. All of it is done on the base of "whatever sticks that sticks, and whatever doesn't, I don't worry about it because there also are other ways of expressing the same ideas using different words, even if they are more basic".

So how exactly can reading more about linguistics when someone is learning languages that way help? Also I should note that I personally, without wanting to offend anyone of course ;), am not interested in any theoretical linguistics questions that aren't connected to some Applied Languages Purposes.
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Re: Linguistics for non-linguists

Postby vijayjohn » 2018-11-12, 22:47

I think grammar explanations are part of linguistics already; they're just (usually) stated as if they were specific to one particular language.

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Re: Linguistics for non-linguists

Postby langmon » 2018-11-12, 22:50

vijayjohn wrote:I think grammar explanations are part of linguistics already; they're just (usually) stated as if they were specific to one particular language.


Agreed. Although they are a lot easier to read sometimes than Deep Linguistical Explanations :). I do acknowledge that linguistics can be a really useful tool. And as for me especially, my main language learning focus is on Pure Spongification, i.e. absorbing whatever sticks like a (even small) sponge, similar to the way I used to do it with German when I was a small child.
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Re: Linguistics for non-linguists

Postby vijayjohn » 2018-11-12, 23:11

SomehowGeekyPolyglot wrote:
vijayjohn wrote:I think grammar explanations are part of linguistics already; they're just (usually) stated as if they were specific to one particular language.


Agreed. Although they are a lot easier to read sometimes than Deep Linguistical Explanations :).

No argument there!

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Re: Linguistics for non-linguists

Postby langmon » 2018-11-12, 23:29

vijayjohn wrote:
SomehowGeekyPolyglot wrote:
vijayjohn wrote:I think grammar explanations are part of linguistics already; they're just (usually) stated as if they were specific to one particular language.


Agreed. Although they are a lot easier to read sometimes than Deep Linguistical Explanations :).

No argument there!


Sure, no argument :).
But what I just wrote makes me wonder why, as far as I know, there aren't too many books about linguistics that have been written in the same easy way as (not promoting, simply explaining) the "for Dummies" and "an Idiot's guide" series.
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Re: Linguistics for non-linguists

Postby vijayjohn » 2018-11-12, 23:35

Because most people aren't interested in learning linguistics.

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Re: Linguistics for non-linguists

Postby langmon » 2018-11-12, 23:45

vijayjohn wrote:Because most people aren't interested in learning linguistics.


Could really be like this, yes. Or maybe not most, but very many.
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Re: Linguistics for non-linguists

Postby linguoboy » 2018-11-13, 3:31

There are actually quite a few introductions to language and linguistics written for a general audience. I owe my early exposure to linguistic concepts to The story of language by Mario Pei and The story of English, the printed companion to the popular BBC series broadcast on PBS in the States.

The usefulness of familiarising yourself with general concepts in linguistics before learning a new language by immersion is that it prepares you to recognise features that don't exist in your native language or languages you've studied previously. Otherwise you're likely to keep shoehorning them into categories you're comfortable with until you realise that's just not possible.
"Richmond is a real scholar; Owen just learns languages because he can't bear not to know what other people are saying."--Margaret Lattimore on her two sons

langmon
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Re: Linguistics for non-linguists

Postby langmon » 2018-11-13, 4:35

linguoboy wrote:The usefulness of familiarising yourself with general concepts in linguistics before learning a new language by immersion is that it prepares you to recognise features that don't exist in your native language or languages you've studied previously. Otherwise you're likely to keep shoehorning them into categories you're comfortable with until you realise that's just not possible.


Maybe there would also be an example of such a shoehorning?
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Re: Linguistics for non-linguists

Postby linguoboy » 2018-11-13, 15:27

SomehowGeekyPolyglot wrote:Maybe there would also be an example of such a shoehorning?

は vs が in Japanese?
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Re: Linguistics for non-linguists

Postby langmon » 2018-11-13, 15:35

linguoboy wrote:
SomehowGeekyPolyglot wrote:Maybe there would also be an example of such a shoehorning?

は vs が in Japanese?


Yesss. "ha" vs "ga", or also "wa" vs "ga".
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Re: Linguistics for non-linguists

Postby linguoboy » 2018-11-13, 15:58

SomehowGeekyPolyglot wrote:
linguoboy wrote:
SomehowGeekyPolyglot wrote:Maybe there would also be an example of such a shoehorning?

は vs が in Japanese?

Yesss. "ha" vs "ga", or also "wa" vs "ga".

All languages have topicalisation, but they differ substantially in how they express it. It's hard to understand how to construct a sentence in Japanese (or Korean or Chinese) without learning explicitly about topic-comment structure.
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Re: Linguistics for non-linguists

Postby langmon » 2018-11-13, 16:12

linguoboy wrote:All languages have topicalisation, but they differ substantially in how they express it. It's hard to understand how to construct a sentence in Japanese (or Korean or Chinese) without learning explicitly about topic-comment structure.


Fully agreeing.
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