Monthly Archives: December 2016

Can Foreigners Develop Grammatical Intuition?

Many people believe that there’s a fundamental difference between the brain hardware of children and adults such that children absorb the deep nuance of a natural language with beautiful ease, and adults struggle long and hard to achieve workable but subpar results. They point to the native-sounding accents that many young children develop when they learn a foreign language by going on a multi-year exchange program, comparing that result to the adults who try their best, grinding out textbook assignments and memorizing lists of words before doing a semester abroad or moving to the foreign country, yet end up with grammatical oddities in their speech that hammer their native listeners into never being able to forget they’re foreigners, a foreign-sounding accent which causes shop staff to get uncomfortable when they’re asking a question, and so forth.

Continue reading

Self-Imposed Asperger’s Syndrome

We’ve all had the experience of meeting someone who has trouble with sarcasm, emotional communication, social cues, and so forth. We attempt to use intonation to convey that we’re joking around, yet they take us literally. We use indirect means to explain that we need to go, but they just keep talking. They’re native speakers of our language, but their linguistic acts don’t seem to penetrate through dictionary definitions and into cultural nuance.

Continue reading