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#1 Bull-SHIT! China was (and still is) crippled by multilingualism. I know people who can speak five languages and it doesn't make any difference as to their intelligence level. They can just speak more languages, is all. If I need to communicate, hire a translator. The benefits of everyone speaking ONE common language are enormous.
Posted by gromky 2012-03-20 10:25||
#2 Yeah, well I know five styles of Bar-B-Que.
What about dialects? I will tell you for a fact Southern US English is quite different than Northern Midwest, both of which are different than US University English or US Media English.
Posted by swksvolFF 2012-03-20 10:47||
#3 Having one common language, like having one common currency, does indeed make daily life flow more easily and efficiently at the macro level, gromky. Hiwever, the article addresses what's going on inside an individual skull.
About twenty percent of Americans live in a household where more than one language is spoken, and even more have to learn the language of the neighborhood. How many of us have picked up a working knowledge of Spanish just to be able to walk down the street? Even I know what pendejo means! Not to mention how many times I've been caught out in Cincinnati speaking in German with the trailing daughters.
Speaking more than one language enriches one's life and is an enjoyable mental exercise. But there is a reason so much of the world uses English as a lingua franca.
Posted by trailing wife 2012-03-20 10:51||
Posted by tipper 2012-03-20 11:11||
#5 It doesn't make you smarter, but it does make you better educated. There is a difference.
Also, it matters *what* languages you speak. I believe that one of the reasons for the success of the English speaking world is the richness and flexibility of the English language.
My kids learn Latin, Chinese and -- because he keeps begging me to teach it to him -- German. Right off the bat it helps with their English grammar, spelling and composition. My oldest has just been accepted to an ivy school at age 16.
Posted by Iblis 2012-03-20 11:30||
#6 Ours is the only industrialized culture in the world where people consider themselves educated without learning a second language. And for an country that depends on foreign trade, we are woefully ignorant of geography.
The headline is a bit silly (most headlines are), but the article generally makes sense. No BS here, Gromky. When you stimulate one area of the brain, the stimulation spills over into adjacent areas of the brain as well. I've had to pay special attention to these things because we have a houseful of Aspergers kids, and we have used music and languages not only for their own sake, but for the other skill sets that occur in the same brain area.
Posted by mom 2012-03-20 12:28||
#7 Re #1: Ribbentrop was an accomplished multi-linguist AND considered a first-class dummy by his own people. Language skills have nothing to do with intelligence. Period.
Posted by borgboy 2012-03-20 12:36||
#8 I last took German in high school in 1966. In 2008, I was admiring the ceiling of the castle of mad King Ludwig in Bavaria, (Germany) when the word "grossartige" popped into my head.
We were traveling with a couple who lived in Germany for several years, and I asked what grossartige was. She had to look it up, and the second synonym was "fantastic". I had remembered the German word from 40 years previous, but forgotten its English equivalent.
Strange thing, the mind, especially the language part!
Posted by Bobby on the road 2012-03-20 12:46||
#9 Bobby, THAT'S ME TOO!! 1966 high school German was the last I took, still remember a little. The funniest thing though was when I went to work for a German company.
We went out for a drink on a trip to Krautville an I asked him the correct pronunciation of "dark beer". The waiter came up and my boss (born and raised in Heidelberg) says to him "Two dark beers." (I almost hit him ;^)
It seems that almost everyone around Waldorf (SAP HQ) speaks English BECAUSE it is such a multi-national company. English is EVERYONE'S second language.
Posted by AlanC 2012-03-20 13:35||
#10 Oh, I forgot to ask, does knowing ABAP, COBOL, Fortran, Pascal and Basic (4 dialects) count?
Posted by AlanC 2012-03-20 13:36||
#11 Most people would prefer Americans remain ignorant of their geography. Our way of learning is pretty thorough.
I picked up a little German from my father when I was a kid. After two world wars, it seemed like a citizen's duty. Got to jr hi about 1957. Tried a little kraut on a guy supposed to be the German teacher. He put up his hands. Probably not the first time.
#12 "Oh, I forgot to ask, does knowing ABAP, COBOL, Fortran, Pascal and Basic (4 dialects) count?"
According to George Gilder, yes.
"Ours is the only industrialized culture in the world where people consider themselves educated without learning a second language."
We don't have the need here--not for travel and not for business. So if you don't count 2 years of high school Spanish (and you shouldn't count that) and people who grew up in bilingual households, you are left with a group who almost certainly have studied. But without a need for it, there are plenty of well educated people who have not learned a second language.
Posted by Iblis 2012-03-20 13:55||
#13 AlanC: There is the discipline of thinking logically that comes from trying to spell out how to do things to a computer that comes with any programming language. However, it is said that the concepts and programming methodology to program LISP well actually aid people in thinking. I've had several situations where I could not code the solution in Basic, but had to code it in Lisp and back translate to Basic to get it to work.
Posted by Ptah 2012-03-20 13:55||
#14 AlanC they're so old you must have been fluent in speaking Neanderthal.
Posted by Bright Pebbles 2012-03-20 14:22||
#15 Most other industrialized nations (meaning Europe) speak more than one language because they are tiny and have to deal with their neighbors. That is not necessarily an asset, just a fact.
I don't doubt a lot of intelligent people know more than one language but I do doubt it was the language skills that made them intelligent. Seems like someone got that backwards.
Posted by rjschwarz 2012-03-20 14:35||
#16 Now, what really helped me learn French better in Graduate school than in undergraduate was my knowledge of how to define and analyze Computer programming languages and how to translate programs written using them into executable code. Programming language theory, alongside Backus-Naur Form as a language to define programming languages, not only helped me understand some programming languages, but a subset of French was defineable as well. I was told, when I visited France afterwards, that I spoke it okay, but much too fast.
What REALLY puzzled them was that they couldn't place WHERE from france I COULD have been from: I was sometimes from normandy, sometimes from Strasbourg, sometimes from Paris. When I explained to them that my First quarter french teacher spent his language year in Bretagne, the second spent it in strasbourg, and the third was a fussy, precise Dame from Paris, they nodded and smiled in deep understanding.
My mom, though born and raised in Haiti, always sounded as if she came off the Docks of Tours: utterly classic and pure French. Turns out her dad forced his kids to pronounce their french from the France's version of the BBC, and all newscasters in france practically are born or lived in the Indre-et-Loire district.
Posted by Ptah 2012-03-20 15:20||
#17 Hmm so many people on Rantburg know German? Looks like a smart bunch to me :-)
Posted by European Conservative 2012-03-20 15:41||
#18 My wife speaks seven. Estonian, English, Finnish, German, French, Russian and Italian.
I speak two okay; English and Spanish. Estonian and German, I can get by. I can curse well in Russian. I guess that makes me a 1 percenter in the USA.
My wife is much my superior in all ways. :(
Posted by Mizzou Mafia 2012-03-20 15:57||
#19 Smarter? Smart is realizing there is frequently a big difference between intelligent and educated. Smarter is knowing that and that there is an even larger different between intelligence and wisdom.
Posted by OldSpook 2012-03-20 16:37||
#20 Funny the topics that stir the crowd.
Link-like thing deleted. Please don't break the 'burg.
-- trailing wife at 5:17 pm EDT
Posted by Skidmark 2012-03-20 16:47||
#21 OS: True that.
But learning a second language is fun, good mental exercise, and stimulating.
Also helps settle certain school kids down when they know you can understand their Spanish!
When Husband's French failed in Geneva two summers ago, and the shopkeepers/waiters/friendly persons from whom we asked directions didn't speak English, my Spanish worked. Go figure.
Posted by mom 2012-03-20 16:53||
#22 One definition of smarter is using your brain more effectively. In other words, acting closer to one's potential. Mr. Wife loves to tell people I'm smarter than he is. But he is a very quick and broad thinker, makes connections others don't see, remembers everything, and is very, very practical. So his useful intelligence is worth much more as the world counts such things.. He also has studied French, German, Spanish and Arabic...and art.
Me? I've studied Hebrew, German, Spanish, Flemish (which is not proper Dutch, as my mother is fond of pointing out), and just enough French to slip quickly into English. ;-). I find that different languages contain a slightly different world view or philosophy. Flemish/Dutch is earthier than English, for instance, which was rather startling for me, but no doubt salutary...and made me see my very ladylike mother in an entirely new light.
Posted by trailing wife 2012-03-20 17:38||
#23 I bet Noam Chomsky knows more than a couple languages.
Posted by SteveS 2012-03-20 18:13||