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Ch. 10: Speaking in Many Tongues 
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 Ch. 10: Speaking in Many Tongues
Ch. 10: Speaking in Many Tongues



Fri Jan 25, 2013 11:07 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 10: Speaking in Many Tongues
It has been a bit of a struggle to see this book to the end, but I’m almost there. I found the chapter on language particularly interesting, especially this section on the benefits of bilingualism.

It appears that the benefits of bilingualism are fairly specific. That is, the bilingual or multilingual person is not smarter in a general way. The brain process of executive function, also known as cognitive control, works more effectively in the bilingual person because of the almost continuous decision making activities taking place at the subconscious level. As JD describes it:

“Monolingual people hearing a word compare it with the single stock of words, and when uttering a word they draw it from their single stock. But bilingual people must and do keep their languages separate. Every time they hear a word pronounced, they must instantly know according to which set of arbitrary rules to interpret the meaning of those sounds.”

He goes on to describe some very ingenious tests on bilingual and monolingual people ranging in age from 3 to 80. It appears that bilingual people have a distinct advantage in solving problems that are confusing because the rules of the task change unpredictably or because there are misleading or irrelevant cues that must be ignored.

Now, excuse me while I get back to my French lessons.



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Fri Mar 29, 2013 10:02 am
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Post Re: Ch. 10: Speaking in Many Tongues
Interesting. Yeah, I put aside the book but planning to come back to it.

I always wanted to learn another language, but was never motivated enough to stick with it.

Hmmm, I must be a serial procrastinator.



Fri Mar 29, 2013 10:59 am
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Post Re: Ch. 10: Speaking in Many Tongues
Here’s another reason to work on that second language from the same chapter:

“Intriguing results of the last few years suggest a protective effect of life-long bilingualism against Alzheimer’s symptoms. Among 400 patients studied at clinics in Toronto, Canada, mostly in their 70's and with a probable diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease (or other dementias in a few cases), bilingual patients showed their first symptoms at an age 4 or 5 years older than did monolingual patients.”

As I said earlier, gotta get back to those French lessons.



Fri Mar 29, 2013 1:21 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 10: Speaking in Many Tongues
Oh yeah, now I've got motivation, with that anti-Alzheimers thing. I'm a bit serious, actually, because that disease runs in my family. Somehow it makes sense to me that second-language acquisition would be more protective than doing sudoku.

I've always been chagrined at being a monolingual American, too. I tried my hardest in college to acquire French in the classroom, but it just doesn't take that way. I still really like the language, though. It doesn't appear that my mouth was destined to make French sounds.

About Diamond, he's a good author and all, but I find his books to be just a bit ponderous and plodding. He's big on outlines.



Fri Mar 29, 2013 7:19 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 10: Speaking in Many Tongues
DWill wrote:
Somehow it makes sense to me that second-language acquisition would be more protective than doing sudoku.


I never understood the idea of doing mindless games or activities to train your brain -- I think there are iPhone apps where you do simple multiplication questions for example. Unless you enjoy them of course. But just read some books or something.



Fri Mar 29, 2013 7:27 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 10: Speaking in Many Tongues
Dexter wrote:
I never understood the idea of doing mindless games or activities to train your brain


Dexter, your instincts are correct on this. JD explains it this way. Like any body system, the brain will function better with practice. Doing puzzles, multiplications or any other such activities can only be carried out over a small part of the day. Apparently, bilingual people are exercising their brain continuously.
“Consciously or unconsciously, their brain is constantly having to decide, “Shall I speak, think, or interpret sounds spoken to me according to the arbitrary rules of language A, or of language B?” (page 394).



Sat Mar 30, 2013 6:40 am
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