4.0533 Language Learning and Language Memory (2/61)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Wed, 26 Sep 90 17:57:40 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 4, No. 0533. Wednesday, 26 Sep 1990.

(1) Date: Wed, 26 Sep 90 02:06 EDT (28 lines)
From: Michel LENOBLE <LENOBLEM@umtlvr.bitnet>
Subject: Re: 4.0525 Mac CALL; Language learning

(2) Date: Wed, 26 Sep 90 01:51:41 PDT (33 lines)
From: DONWEBB@CALSTATE (Donald Webb)
Subject: Language memory

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: Wed, 26 Sep 90 02:06 EDT
From: Michel LENOBLE <LENOBLEM@umtlvr.bitnet>
Subject: Re: 4.0525 Mac CALL; Language learning

>From the research I was able to read when studing second language
acquisition techniques specifically for Dutch, English and German I
gathered that the best time to learn a language efficiently was when a
child had completed the acquisition of his/her mother(/father?)tongue.
Studies in bilingualism and trilingualism at that time showed that the
better the native language was acquired the better the second language
was acquired too. For those interested in the subject of bilingualism
and multilingualism, Albert Verdood published a commented bibliography
in the Travaux de l'Institut de Linguistique series at the Universite de
Louvain (Louvain-la-Neuve).

Language learning is just like gastronomy: some will only eat hamburger
where ever they are in the world and others will at least try if not like
chinese, japanese, french, italian, indian, etc. cuisine.

Line editors being what they are they force me to add a y to the word
studying and an s to hamburgers.

Michel Lenoble
Litterature Comparee
Universite de Montreal
C.P. 6128, Succ. "A"
Canada - H3C 3J7
(2) --------------------------------------------------------------35----
Date: Wed, 26 Sep 90 01:51:41 PDT
From: DONWEBB@CALSTATE (Donald Webb)
Subject: Language memory

Judy Koren's and Ruth Hanschka's postings (#4.0525 Tue 25 Sep) about
foreign-language learning's effect on dreams and memory remind me of a
remark made by one of my professors, years ago, the late Ramon Guthrie.
He enjoyed translating poetry as well as writing it, and when asked how
he went about translating what we students blithely assumed was
untranslatable, he said, "I memorize the poem [in French], tell my
subconscious to work on it, and three days later I remember it in

That observation has stuck with me even though I've never tried it -
there must be some advantage, after all, in being a poet. The process
does seem to work with - I would guess - all creative thinking, complex
problem solving or whatever you want to call it. I've found it works
when translating prose or writing in English. Refining the process - or
perhaps just stating it less succinctly - it comes down to this:

(1) Study the problem thoroughly

(2) Make a mental resolution to "sleep on it"

(3) Keep a note pad and pencil handy (the answer may wake you up in the
middle of the night, come to you while you're in the bathtub.. one never

Jacques Hadamard's famous book, _The Psychology of Invention in the
Mathematical Field_, has some interesting anecdotes bearing on the role
of the subconscious. I'd like to see a discussion of such mental
"tricks" as they apply to non-conscious processes, stimulating
creativity and suchlike ("etc").