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Jost Gippert: Our Featured Linguist!

"Buenos dias", "buenas noches" -- this was the first words in a foreign language I heard in my life, as a three-year old boy growing up in developing post-war Western Germany, where the first gastarbeiters had arrived from Spain. Fascinated by the strange sounds, I tried to get to know some more languages, the only opportunity being TV courses of English and French -- there was no foreign language education for pre-teen school children in Germany yet in those days. Read more

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Ask-A-Linguist Message Details

Subject: Learning to read
Question: Hello,

Can an individual, child or adult, learn to read before he/she can

Thank you.

Reply: To further expand on Dr Cruz-Ferreira's answer, almost all scripts, even Chinese are
include a large phonetic component in which symbols represent sounds or
combinations of sounds which are put together to form words.

It's also important to understand that the mapping of sound sequences to words is
mostly arbitrary. Without that knowledge, both speaking and reading would be
extremely difficult to master.

There might be cases where children could understand, but not produce, speech and
possibly learn to read, but that would be the exception.

Reply From: Elizabeth J Pyatt      click here to access email
Date: 22-Oct-2012
Other Replies:
  1. Re: Learning to read    Madalena Cruz-Ferreira     (22-Oct-2012)
  2. Re: Learning to read    Nancy J. Frishberg     (22-Oct-2012)
  3. Re: Learning to read    Anthea Fraser Gupta     (27-Oct-2012)

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