Thursday, July 28, 2005

second-language dialect?

I was reading Nathan Bierma's On Language column today (he also blogs about language on the Calvin Linguistics blog), and I have a question. The article is about the dialect that is developing in China called China English. This is a grammatical dialect of English which is becoming a standard english in China. What I am wondering, though, is can you have a standard dialect that has no native speakers? It just seems a little odd to me. What is the purpose of learning a second language that you can speak with other people who share your first language? Perhaps it is easier to all speak China English when conversing with people who speak different dialects of Chinese. Does anyone have insight on this topic?

6 comments:

binerman said...

well I suppose different dialects all have to start somehere. Perhaps it will eventually develope into a common language for a new generation as their first language. Bersides, it's unrealistic to expect people from other language backgrouds to speak American English (whatever that is...) any more than I expect Georgians to (j/k)

-Jon

searching_monkey said...

The common feature of most dialects is that they are mutually intelligible within the context of the language. However, Chinese represents one of the few cases where the two main dialects, Mandarin and Cantonese, are not mutually intelligible. (Another example would be Middle Eastern Arabic and Moroccan Arabic.) I expect there would be strained politics over which dialect of Chinese would become the offical one much like the politics behind creating a national language for the United States.

There is also probably something to do with the age at which children in China are learning English. Neurolinguist claim that if second language acquisition occurs before age 10 to 12, the second language can be learned without accent. Unlike in the United States where we begin learning our second languages in highschool and college, I believe they start learning English at a much younger age. However, if the teachers of English are speaking with an accent, the accent would be perpetuated in the second generation of learners. I believe this process matches the theories behind how African American English developed anyways.

(I just finished taking a linguistic course over the summer so I feel like I know things)

~Craig :)

o1mnikent said...

So in France, Antione (guy we stayed with) asked me to distinguish shade from shadow. I was stumped.

Then I found five dollars.

Hope you're doing well...

Bob K said...

A shadow is the figure that is cast on a plane by an object blocking the sun. Shade is the three-dimensional space that is formed by that same object. (I maade that up.)

binerman said...

this made me think of you:

http://www.toothpastefordinner.com/081005/grammar-police-arrest-this-man.gif

enjoy

Ryan said...

so what's the deal? you move south and can't blog any more?