LINGUIST List 15.205

Tue Jan 20 2004

Disc: Re: Gil & Boroditsky: Indonesian Linguistics

Editor for this issue: Sarah Murray <sarahlinguistlist.org>


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  1. lawrence jc baron, Re: 15.163: Disc: New: Gil & Boroditsky: Indonesian Linguistics
  2. Baudouin Janssens, Re: 15.163: Gil & Boroditsky: Indonesian Linguistics

Message 1: Re: 15.163: Disc: New: Gil & Boroditsky: Indonesian Linguistics

Date: Mon, 19 Jan 2004 23:52:03 +0100
From: lawrence jc baron <ljcbphiloyahoo.co.uk>
Subject: Re: 15.163: Disc: New: Gil & Boroditsky: Indonesian Linguistics


Denis thank you for bring to our attention this article from the
Economist. I happen to come across it this morning and I thought of
using it with some of my adult English language students (all
professional). And although we are still in the process of reading and
considering the article I think the article reaffirms at least two
important points.

The first is the use of interpreters and translations. This is clearly
a flawed form of communication between culture and languages.
Personally I gave up working as a translator a long time ago because I
always found it unsatisfactory. The second issue is how the
experimenter can influence the outcome of the experiment. But this
should not be a surprise in a language/linguistic experiment. Thinking
of the reaction of the shoeshine boys in article, one just cannot
divorce language from the people; at least not when considering
language as a human activity. As an ELT one soon learns to keep away
from local politics and religion in the class room; emotions tend to
take over reason and scholarship.

When one reads the sub headline of the article, one has no doubt that
the editor of the Economist wanted us to think that there is a direct
link between thinking and language. And not having read the original
study by Gil and Boroditsky , what was reported seems to be heading in
this direction. But as Whitney Anne concluded >>>>>

As for their investigation of the relationship between language and
thought, Gil and Boroditsky are appropriately more tentative. If
profound differences in ways of thinking are discovered between
speakers of English and speakers of Indonesian, alternative factors
besides language must be considered. Plausible candidates are
historical, economic and geographical factors, among others. In any
case, this provocative work should be based on more scrupulous
analyses of Indonesian dialects.<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<


The consensus, at least amongst those I discussed this article with,
seems to be that nurture and culture have a more serious influence on
thinking and language use. Of course scrupulous analyses are the watch
words, but I would look at the connection in the way language conveys
concepts rather than grammar structure. After many years teaching EFL
I am in no doubt that first language of a student influences the style
of communication in English. And as the Duchess said to Alice, "Take
care of the sense, and the sounds will take care of themselves."
Sorry, I was busy with Alice all last week.

thanks for your time and all the best

Lawrence
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Message 2: Re: 15.163: Gil & Boroditsky: Indonesian Linguistics

Date: Mon, 19 Jan 2004 10:31:52 +0100
From: Baudouin Janssens <baudouin.janssensafricamuseum.be>
Subject: Re: 15.163: Gil & Boroditsky: Indonesian Linguistics


The problem of distinguishing the categories of noun and verb is not
new and has been debated in African Linguistics since many years. See
D. Creissels, 1991, "Description des langues n�gro-africaines et
structure syntaxique" p. 36 and Chapter 11.


Baudouin Janssens

Royal Museum of Central Africa
Service of Linguistics
B - 3080 Tervuren (Belgium)
baudouin.janssensafricamuseum.be



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