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51081Re: [Czechlist] ISSUES: Issues

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  • James Kirchner
    Mar 5, 2013
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      The view may be charmingly anachronistic, but I nonetheless still encounter people who have the problem. I meet many people even now who say that after returning home it takes them a couple weeks to dredge their full command of their native language back up from the depths of their brains. Clearly some people never have this problem, and it somehow brings back my dim pre-adolescent memories of Orwell's "Burmese Days", which is an unjust analogy in many cases.

      I have adult students whose Polish and Albanian deteriorates after just a couple of years here, even if their English never gets to advanced level. (Just watch the Chaldean broadcasts on the cable channel here. Most of the people speak a pidgin language.) Thanks to technology, these people have plenty of access to media and communication in their native languages -- not to mention the company of expats from their own countries -- but their command of their native language still deteriorates.

      Since every other day I have to hammer standard English into a class's brains, the only way the substandard English around me (such as Ebonics and some of the working-class stuff) is that it makes my job harder when my students pick it up.

      There are dialect variations and variations in the standard language, and that does make it hard always to know what is natural. However, it's always pretty clear that when an American living overseas tells me, for example, that some perfectly common idiom I hear and read daily doesn't exist or that "nobody uses it", there's something wrong.


      On Mar 5, 2013, at 5:53 PM, Melvyn wrote:

      > --- In Czechlist@yahoogroups.com, James Kirchner <czechlist@...> wrote:
      >> It's no secret that a long sojourn in a foreign country affects one's judgements about what is and isn't natural in one's native language.
      > In these days of inexpensive air travel, intercity buses you can hop on at a moment's notice and round-the-clock instant communications this view does strike me as charmingly anachronistic.
      > Still, I daresay there are some linguistic pitfalls if you stay put practically anywhere for any length of time, e.g. in north Manchester, where I have to constantly bite my teacherly tongue in case relatives become too afraid to open their mouths in front of me. :-O Does the substandard English that you hear around you ever have a negative effect on your language, Jamie?
      > And BTW I can never be sure as sure can be about what is natural in my native language, because there are so many varieties of it. Just thirty miles down the road in Liverpool they use words in their everyday speech that I have never heard of.
      > BR
      > Melvyn
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