[b-hebrew] A Reply - WAV question

UUC vadim_lv at center-tv.net
Thu Jun 3 01:47:16 EDT 2004

Dear Peter,

>The analytic approach is not very helpful. <
Perhaps because it is not that analytical? There is Russian saying, Not
seeing forest behind the trees. Grammar courses usually present so many
trees without offering student a grand view of the language, making him
understand the logic of Hebrew, so that other rules he sees are simply
logical conclusions from these basic rules.

Best regards,


> > At 11:48 30/05/2004, UUC wrote:
> >
> >> This is close
> >> to what Chomsky says, actually. There is a built-in mechanism in our
> >> minds
> >> for understanding the structure of language;
> >
> >
> > Three days ago a linguist called Larry Trask, who had never accepted
> > this, died.
> >
> > As his obituary in " The Times " [ London ] of March 28 stated:
> >
> > >> He rejected any theory that could not be supported through evidence
> > and refuted much that was myth and conjecture. <<
> >
> > and it went on to deal specifically with this point of Chomsky's
> >
> > >> Trask was an opponent of Chomsky's theories of Universal Grammar,
> > first proposed in the late 1950s and by this time widely accepted.
> > Chomsky had proposed that some fundamentals of grammar are hard-wired
> > into the human brain before birth, but that some options within it are
> > fixed later by experience. Trask believed that there was no evidence
> > to support this idea, and that it should not be taught as fact. His
> > own arguments were always based on sound knowledge of facts and
> > scientific principles, and he would take the greatest pains to make
> > sure they were understood by everyone from first-year undergraduates
> > to colleagues and competitors. <<
> >
> I agree with Trask. But, whether or not it is evidence for Chomsky's
> wider views about built-in mechanisms, there certainly *is* evidence
> concerning different rates of language acquisition by children and
> adults using different methods. And certainly one of the slowest
> methods, for adults and children, is to work from a grammar book with
> lists of tenses and paradigms.
>  From my own experience and that of others I have worked with, it is
> possible for adults as well as children to acquire a good working
> knowledge of any modern language within just a few months. The key to
> this, which is much easier for children than for adults, is immersion in
> a situation where they are surrounded by the language and are forced to
> use it. This is painful, but effective. The analytic approach is not
> very helpful. I understand that children find it easier than adults to
> acquire the precise phonetics that make them sound like native speakers,
> but that in other respects adults do better than children if other
> things are equal. But so often other things are not equal, because
> adults have many other things which they need to do, or choose to do,
> which distract them from language learning.
> As for biblical Hebrew, things are not so easy because there is no user
> community. The usefulness of modern Hebrew is debatable. Randall Buth's
> Biblical Language Center (http://www.biblicalulpan.org/) has tried to
> set up a biblical Hebrew course based on immersion and natural language
> learning methods. These methods are a clear improvement over traditional
> approeaches using grammar books.
> --
> Peter Kirk
> peter at qaya.org (personal)
> peterkirk at qaya.org (work)
> http://www.qaya.org/

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