Greg Hewgill (ghewgill) wrote,
Greg Hewgill

on language learning

Language Log has an interesting article about spelling and language learning, with particular attention to English. The comparison table showing two dimensions of language complexity was interesting - it put English at the complex/deep end and Finnish at the simple/shallow end! Although I have never studied Finnish, I heard from goulo that it's supposed to be one of the more difficult languages to learn. And, the vast difference between the error rates of first-grade children in various languages must mean something. English at 70% error rate while Finnish is less than 5%?

It would of course be interesting to see Esperanto compared to other languages, but I don't think there's a practical way to test that for native speakers. Perhaps one could organise a study of the learning rates of young children learning a language other than their mother tongue. Such an experiment would take a tremendous amount of coordination work. Ideally you would want to have multiple different groups of learners from each native language learning each second language in the experiment. I probably sound like I'm designing a comprehensive software coverage test!

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