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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: Child Language Acquisition & Difficulty of the Language
Question: Hello,

There seems to be agreement that some languages are more difficult to learn as a second language. But I'm wondering if children born into environments where the more ''difficult'' languages are spoken take longer to achieve a certain level of linguistic competency (acquire vocabulary or master the syntax). I read on one of your FAQ's that it does take children longer to learn to pronounce, for example, words that have multiple consonants in a row. But I'm curious about comparative learning rates other aspects of language. Thank you very much.

Reply: I have heard anecdotally that in some countries whose languages have complex
inflectional morphology (Russia and Finland come to mind), school -- outside of
kindergarten -- starts at age 7 rather than 6 to give children time to master that
morphology.
Reply From: Susan D Fischer      click here to access email
 
Date: 21-Aug-2013
 
Other Replies:
  1. Re: Child Language Acquisition & Difficulty of the Language    Anthea Fraser Gupta     (21-Aug-2013)
  2. Re: Child Language Acquisition & Difficulty of the Language    Elizabeth J Pyatt     (21-Aug-2013)
  3. Re: Child Language Acquisition & Difficulty of the Language    Marilyn N Silva     (21-Aug-2013)
  4. Re: Child Language Acquisition & Difficulty of the Language    Geoffrey Richard Sampson     (21-Aug-2013)

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