This is NTU's Sociological Society here!
Welcome to our site! :D
Friday, 12 December 2008
By Nur Liyanah Ali Mohamed
About a week ago I came across an article I considered too funny to be true. I thought that God going out of His way to prove to the world that I was right. I was deliciously happy with the sense of vindication. Madly laughing also. (Should I continue with adjectives here to whet your appetite further?)
I remember when I was in primary five or six, the school belle and brightest student (also my classmate...ahem, get the point?) asked me, I remember, after playing hopscotch at the school compound, "How do you keep a turkey in suspense?" (her exact words) and I asked back, "What?" and she said, "I'll tell you the answer tomorrow."
CLEVER! I still laugh at that one...it's evergreen.
I sympathize with you guys who, like me in the above recollection, is asking the 'what?' question now. So I shall not let you guys marinate in suspense. What got me laughing was this article: http://www.cbn.com/CBNnews/483925.aspx
I wouldn't have believed it if it were not for the video convincing me that facts could be stranger than fiction at the time when I was thinking that it (the fact) was too strange to be true.
I have always thought that some people are predisposed to pick up languages easily (here I mean the semantics and the accent) and some people have insurmountable inertia regarding the task because of the way their brains function. I for one cannot imagine picking up the Chinese language (anytime soon). My older sister (one-year older, graduate of NUS Sociology) on the other hand took up Chinese and French courses as an undergraduate, and did pretty well for them.
Bewildered, I asked her one time how she managed to pull the languages out of her, especially the Chinese language, and she said that she had always had an ear for Chinese from how Chinese was spoken when she watched our local Chinese drama series since young. Remember The Unbeatables?
I watched those Chinese drama series with her too and I can see where it gets me. So since then I had always suspected that it wass an innate thing. Now it's more than a suspicion. Additionally I'll tell you why I don't think it's due to interest.
I am taking Hebrew lessons and I have to tell you, the fluency fluctuates on different days regardless of my interest, making the amount of practice relatively constant.
I wake up one day and I am so good at it that I feel like backpacking to Jerusalem immediately and talking to natives there in Hebrew like long lost friends. I wake up another day and I feel like I am learning the language for the first time. It yo-yos like that.
(I practiced my written Hebrew on Prof. Benjamin once and he asked me whether I was thinking of converting to Judaism. Since then I learnt of a few Singaporean Chinese who had converted to Judaism so it was a serious question.)
So, in the article, the lady who woke up with a foreign accent thought that she got it after a part of her brain was triggered. Based on this, I recommend that researchers on this subject come up with a head massage technique for students of language to activate that part their brains controlling for accent in order for them to learn languages faster. I know that machines that stimulate different parts of the brain exist. I don't know how much they cost, and if they are expensive, massage techniques are more egalitarian.
I remember Prof. Benjamin telling our Sociology of Religion class once that he was hooked up to said machine which was configured to stimulate the parts of his brain that were responsible for lucid dreaming - the kind of dream where you know that you are dreaming and therefore exercise your selfish will in it - and he lucid dreamt after that.
Ever the populist, I suggested that anyone itching to enter into a lucid dream eat pickles and peanut butter or any two things incongruent in taste before that person sleeps. I learnt that from the television series 'Ed.' The evidence for brains controlling accent rather than interest controlling accent makes a good case for students of language in defense from exasperated teachers. Don't you guys think that an accent makes learning the semantics of a language easier and not much the other way around? Consider also how accent is an important part of pronunciation, which interferes with semantics if not done properly.
So to exasperated language teachers out there: Please earnestly consider a thing of nature called the language block.
The writer is an honors year sociology major at Nanyang Technological University. The above are her opinions and does not represent the views of the society or the main committee of NTUSS.
Leave a Message ♥
About US! ♥
We're the NTU Sociological Society! :D
We're made up of Soci majors and others who love Sociology as much as we do!