What role does talent play in learning languages?
In my case, the most important factor was the desire to learn how to draw)) I found a suitable article on drawing instructions but it was in English. As a result, I found a lot of useful and interesting information about drawing, but also in English. Now I have been learning the language for more than a year, thanks to this
@ Señor Francisco "I do univeristy research" Granadez
I'll look at the Drobishevskiy stuff later, but I really think this discussion about braincase volume decreasing over that much more ancient time-depth doesn't have anything to do with the more recent phenomenon I hinted at. Looks like Drobishevsky is about neotenization ~= gracilization, brain/body volume ratios changing, without a necessary relationship to the internal complexity of the grey matter.
It's really quite simple. Please refer to this bombastically great and goofy comedy movie, that they wouldn't get away with making today, with the sad, troubling understanding that real idiocracy is coming to our grandchildren, and will be less jolly than this movie, and unfortunately much more violent and dangerous. I'll leave it to you to think of certain countries in the world today.
Example of a real one ....maybe:
AFRIKAANS ACTIVIST WILLEM PETZER DISCUSSES SOUTH AFRICA'S COLLAPSE INTO ANARCHY
Once you understand this fugly truth, a lot will become clear on The Path of enlightenment.
And then many nihilistic, individualistic, narcissistic people, will have to face an existentialist crash in the fact that they have never thought or acted enough in any of the two main planes of life:
1. the spiritual, philosophical dimension of honest enlightenment
2. the materialist, darwinian dimension of whose great-grandchildren will rule Mars / or the slums of violent chaos, respectively.
Imagine the type of person, who doesn't understand that Idiocracy is real, by simply once walking out of their traffic-sign research in Universidad de Paella in Al-Andalus, having lived 50+ years and read some history and literature from A.D. 1850 to 2020.
To answer the question "Is the human being evolving now?": contraceptive methods, viruses, famines, wars, inoculation with religion vs nihilist individualism, etc. etc. etc.
JF GARIÉPY - NO, NATURAL SELECTION HASN'T STOPPED IN HUMANS, THOUGHTY2
Also: Prof. Eric Kaufmann
For more understanding about credentialist academic windbags, who need a "source" on everything, that most working class IQ 90 people with two eyes to see know by instinct, please refer to this enlightening video and also search "mid-wit memes", not forgetting to take some of them with a big pinch of salt ;)
The Psychology and Rise of the Mid-Wit
The general type of person, one of whose big concerns in life is raising the question if old-fashioned terms and inaccurate thoughts on some ethnic groups in old literature should be censored, and thinking that this makes them look awfully profound and moral:
Never mind real problems in the world, and real helping based on reality, while humbly shutting your piehole about it, as most moral sages in history have suggested.
To understand the virtue-signalling, hypocrite, coward, racist, conformist liar type of person, and why they need to be stopped, please refer to these transmissions from our succinct "nutsi" friend Eddy McDutt:
Why Virtue-Signallers Are psychopaths and "Ethics" is Just Emotional Manipulation
Leftists Are Motivated by Self-Interest and Envy, NOT Compassion: The Evidence
Why All Left Wing People Are Raging Liars
Never forget, what Master Sun said in the Art of War:
But like the Noble Quran incessantly says:
And as for the disbelievers, theirs will be a severe chastizement on a day about which there is no doubt.
Johnny Cash - God's Gonna Cut You Down (Official Music Video)
Hope this makes interesting food for thought my lingqing friends!
I'll stay on the side of those who check the data by reading and criticizing actual research.
You can stay on the side of those who think in terms of your political bias and use insults, parrot internet expressions and quote videos by alt-right youtubers as a replacement for thinking
Ftornay I see our old "friend" here has spammed this thread to death, oh well, oh well....
Yep! This is one of those situations that manage to be hilarious and depressing at the same time
That's not my boy anymore! That's Joseph Stalin's boy :D
You're desperately caught in a political discourse and getting triggered by anything. As if still there is Tom the human somwhere, but for now it's some fungus taking control of the Tom's body and mind (and the LingQ account) and pushing him aggressively to the crowd, when it can spread its spores. Meanwhile somwhere another human is getting pushed in the opposite direction by alt-left fungus.
If you're still alive, blink two times.
@ S.I. my boi
You seem like a good guy.
Joe Stalin is not at all my boi, since I have indicated that I am not inclined towards artificial and brutal interference in things by state force. Maybe you want to watch thoroughly my boi and cult-leader Ed, Professor of heresy, before being fast with inacurrate assumptions.
I wouldn't agree that I "getting triggered by anything".
If by "triggered" you mean worried and frustrated on a rational and empirical basis, then I would agree that I am getting ever so slightly triggered by my Vienna being changed into Beirut (that I was lucky to visit for 3 weeks in 2019) by hypocritical lying narcissists like Professor Traffic Sign.
If you don't understand what the problems with this are, I respectfully call your attention to the links provided and encourage long and deep meditation on these matters.
What you maybe don't know, is that I have seen the ugly face of Francisco on this forum before. And I just happen to have the evidence saved!
He will hear from the Inquisition of the Imperator, when the time comes. :PP
@ Francisco El Racista
"""I'll stay on the side of those who check the data by reading and criticizing actual research."""
Would be great if you started doing that. Better late than never.
I'll leave it to intelligent observers to judge who lives in biased fantasyland parroting sophistry and empty phrases, and who thinks critically.
We know what you people are, Frankyboi. And if you think your empty phrase sophistry intimidates us, you've got another think coming.
I suggest you consume some of the information I have linked to, before you embarrass yourself further.
He's not blinking!
I don't want to derail Mischa's thread about talent too much. The poor guy.
But for people who like """those who check the data by reading and criticizing actual research""",
I can recommend this 2010 German book by "my boi" Thilo. The en Wiki article is a stump, please translate and research further.
The main thesis is that the excessive social welfare system (which as you know is an artificial, state-force program, of questionable morality) is having a significant dysgenic effect on the society, similar to what is suggested in the great comedy movie Idiocracy. In short, while the "educated" shrink their share for complex reasons, the underclasses are growing strongly. This is agravated by a political religion that wants to import foreign underclasses in bulk, which is an unfortunate aside for these foreign victims of very evil and/or stupid political forces.
The book is heavily data-driven, therefore a bit of a thick read. I read it a good while back. Maybe it is available to people in translation.
Please be aware, that most representations in regime-media or by very "concerned" commentators, overly focus on how the man is a royzyzt, because he thinks making Germany into an ethno-religiously splintered Bosnia/Lebanon may not be the best idea we ever had, because: corruption, crime, civil strife, unreliable systems, etc. as suggested in the Willem Petzer South Africa interview.
Steve read the book a long time ago as well and stated: "This is not a bad man. This is a man, who is worried about his country."
And Franky Traffic, before you dare suggest I am a royzyzt again, look up the psychological bias of projection, which you should know:
For people who have a weakness in logical thinking or are under the spell of the current religion, I should stress, that the ethno-religious dimension, (which racists would call the race dimension), is an unfortunate aside in this larger problem, and that we don't endorse violent, abrupt, artificial state-force as a solution to anything.
But hey. I should accept that you can't fix stupid and there is no point in talking to disgusting, cowardly traitors, who have no relationship with the truth.
Thank you and good lingqing!
What's wrong with you, why are you bringing that in here? We ain't talking with you about politics, we didn't ask you for all of this ship you're throwing up constantly. You're intentionally falling out of context of LingQ and learning languages. You're presenting yourself as inadequate so what attitude do you want towards your person and your beliefs after that? Actually, this behavior is the worst ads for any beliefs and views, I'm getting gayer after each of your comments.
Or probably you're getting paid by the Prigozhin's farms and actually you are just a Russian troll? These guys don't give a damn about context and don't have their own beliefs, they're just getting paid for copy/pasting everywhere to promote polarization into society and, of cource, commercial interests of the current government. $ 0.25 a comment, by the way.
I personally don't mind to get know someone's views about anything now and then, but one should have a healthy sense of proportion and relevancy.
Behave yourself! >:(
I'd say the conversation evolved naturally into other areas, as conversations tend to do. So unless there is a pedantic conversation police that determines what is acceptable or not, then I think we are good.
But since you have been unfortunatly triggered I will stop now I promise. I can use my time better than this.
"""You're presenting yourself as inadequate"""
Inadequate in English doesn't mean exactly, what it means in Russian. It's a false friend.
Inadequate means "not up to the task" "unworthy" "not good enough".
In English you want to say "indecent" for what you wanted to call me.
Hope this helps.
"""I'm getting gayer after each of your comments. """
That's ok. I love you as you are.
Gay guys tend to be lovely and very interesting, but some of them have trouble understanding that they can't have a piece of this seksy Tommyboi. :PP
"""Or probably you're getting paid by the Prigozhin's farms """
Wow. Being called a Russian troll by a Russian)))
I'm not a fan of Tsar Vladimir either, and I know that there are Russian troll armies that want to aggravate the polarization in the West, as a part of mutual PsyOps infowars.
Maybe the time will come, when you realize that Russian trolls didn't create any polarization out of nowhere, but start to think about why things are happening as they are.
I'm a heavy listener of Echo Moskvy, and I largely like the old Berliner patient Aleksey N.
So the accusation is quite sad and absurd. But I am accepting now that another Dark Age around 2200 is inevitable, and there is no talking to certain people.
No hard feelings S.I.! I didn't mean to trigger you. I meant to encourage other normal and intelligent people to engage with certain truths about our world and future, while triggering the Francisco types.
Путин должен уйти!
> TomOfVienna out
That's my boy.
By the way, what's wrong with the English meaning of inadequacy? It's precisely the same as it in Russian. To teach Russian what's the meaning of a word in Russian is inadequacy too.
2 [uncountable] the fact of not being good enough in quality, ability, size etc for a particular purpose.
You are not being good enough at getting fit into context.
You are absolutely correct about the basic meaning. But you have to know by experience what the actual usage is and what the finer shades of meaning are. Dictionaries should be understood as descriptive, rather than prescriptive, since languages change and words are subject to semantic shift.
Maybe I'm wrong about the Russian one though, please help me out.
"""the fact of not being good enough in quality, ability, size etc for a particular purpose."""
In English, this is the meaning and it stays around this more basic meaning. In the vast majority of cases, or any I've ever seen, "inadequate" shows up when someone is not good enough in some concrete physical or mental way.
A man with erectile dysfunction may be inadequate at satisfying his wife.
Francisco is inadequate at being an academic psychologist.
Now, in Russian the meaning of адекватный seems to have shifted more into the abstract, in fact meaning "worthy", "morally good", "decent", "orderly" and this seems to me exactly what you were trying to call me. неадекватный
~= "indecent", or possibly "inappropriate" though that usage wouldn't have been entirely grammatical.
East Slavic beauties trying to buy a husband from a higher rent country always talk about how he must be адекватный (decent, orderly, morally good). They are not talking about the potency of his gentleman-sausage as would be more like the English context of this word.
Reversely неадекватный would be an unemployed, unwashed, alcoholic gopnik-slob.
""" You're presenting yourself as inadequate so what attitude do you want towards your person and your beliefs after that? """
The usage here, in English, of "inadequate" is unusual and slightly unnatural, unless the English natives will argue otherwise.
Please inform me if and how I am off target in my understanding of the Russian. I shall see your answer and then really keep my word about not triggering you adequate people anyome.
Btw, while wallowing in my narcissism, admiring how adequate and seksy af I am in the mirror, I realized that the reason all these gay guys seemed so lovely and very interesting to me was because I was so open and nice to them, that they thought they had chances of eating my gentleman-sausage! Oh the pains of being a hot girl!
Bee Gees - Stayin' Alive (Official Music Video)
Ok, ok, I promise this was the last post.
Have fun, girls.
It's hilarious :D He's not only stepped in ship, he's wiped his feet with his hand and then smeared his own face with the same hand, then he called others 'girls' as if being a girl is something bad or, probably, the situation somehow reminds him of girls that rejected him. And then he proudly tossed his soiled head and went out, but just around the corner so that he could see my reply and get the opportunity to plunge in ship completely at some point.
Please don't bring politics to this forum. I respect that you believe what you believe but I don't want to see it here. -1.
I figured the following.
As with all cognitive skills the resulting rectangle certainly needs
a length of nature (complex innate factors)
a width of nurture (motivation, method, confidence, experience, hard work and time spent).
Language acquisition looks to me like a cognitive skill that is quite universal and roughly equal in almost all homo sapiens. Like for example the skill of driving vehicals, it seems to be very weakly related to general intelligence (g), which is the genetic factor underlying IQ tests.
As Qui Gon Jin once said to Jar Jar Binks in 1999: "The ability to speak does not make you intelligent."
Qui Gon meets Jar Jar Binks | Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (1999)
But here's the crux:
Level of understanding reached as well as production and performance in any foreign languages, will not be higher than performance and understanding in the native language.
Consider that the CEFR scale is not a progression towards "native", but rather a progression of being educated, intelligent, and effective in a particular language. C2 then doesn't mean native-like, it means being able to perform what the definition says:
Therefore there are clearly people who are absolutely native speakers, yet they may only score a B2 on any CEFR exam in their native languages. Leaving aside that there are also people who don't have one clear native language. Reversely there are non-natives who may score a C2 in a foreign L, yet the perfect accent or other complexities still escape them and identify them as non-native.
Please refer to these two most enlightening videos on language matters:
Stephen Krashen, an Interview - Steve Kaufmann - lingosteve
A functional illiterate, who doesn't read well in their L1, will have a hard time reaching something like a C1 in an L2, for reasons both innate and environmental.
Also I'd like to share this most interesting and brilliant old programme about how well gorillas can learn sign language:
A Conversation With Koko The Gorilla Full Documentary
American comedian Bill Burr has done good work popularizing Koko The Gorilla! Audio not ideal, but it's the complete bit:
Bill Burr, talking gorilla
As Krashen explained in the lingosteve interview, most people used to be stuck believing in the "skill building hypothesis" of L aquisistion. Trying to learn languages like school maths by effortful control, squeezing it through the conscious slow 'System 2'.
Once someone fundamentally understands the primordial truth of the input hypothesis, and learns to trust more in the low effort and faster 'System 1', they have the cornerstone of knowing that LingQ is the way to go.
My life story in short for context:
From shaky B1 school English, I learned it well, incidentally by the LingQ input method of reading books, watching movies, series, and about 9000h of THE SIMPSONS (Yes, you can tell it did its damage :P), while simply pausing and looking up words at every fuzzy word.
Then I found LingQ and gradually warmed up from easy to hard, doing Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Chinese. I don't think I would have believed in cracking Chinese as a first or second, but by the time I did Chinese my confidence was bombastic enough to just run with it. Although it'd be a long road to a C level, and my former B2 has probably decayed into a B1.
An Anglo learning Chinese as his first L2, or anything other than Romano-Germanic neighbourhood dialects, is definitely on a respectable quest.
Pronunciation accuracy is a rather superficial talent, that overly impresses people, while not being the most meanigful thing. I personally am a bit of a joker, who likes to playact around with accents, and I think I am extremely high in personality trait 'Openness'. Therefore I think I tend to be good at accents, which usually gives people the impression that my level is better than it is.
Language acquisition is a universal human skill, roughly equal among almost all, hardly g-related. Yet ultimate, effective level of understanding and performance will be limited by the level in the native languages.
Therefore, no matter how much intelligent language learners such as are gatheres on this thread may want to deny their IQ in fake humility, they are both right and wrong in this. The quesiton is a complex sucker, but since IQ = processing speed of the brain, it obviously plays a role in the speed of acquisition, grammar accuracy, accent accuaracy, etc.
Daniel Tammet was mentioned, who is obviously a high-functioning autist-savant with probably IQ ~150.
This is my amateur take.
"""So my theory is that learning an "alien" language is doable"""
Reminds me of the Babbel ads. Now THAT is some fun marketing!
Babbel: An Alien Abroad - Full Length (120s) (2018)
"""Where it falls down is when guys like Benny Lewis say you can learn *any* language in 3 months. Doubt it. """
I personally won't blast Benny Lewis anymore as I did in the past, because he seems to have been humbled by Karma in the last two years:
Whatever happened to Benny Lewis? A personal update
May The 道 forgive him, and may he be at inner peace.
He was a raging young guy, who thought he would 90-day visa travel forever, and named his whole product with an unsustainable, short-sighted name. And his "just speak" and toxic positivity, he once admitted, were overcompensation for his nerdy poindexter uni days.
Living in Spain and with a school background in German, he started out swiping up all these western European languages to small talk levels and then, lacking perspective, thought it all just takes 3 months. Then around 2013 he tried in succession the gigaprojects CHINESE JAPANESE ARABIC and got his expectation adjusted downward by those experiences, while trying to frame his way out of failures afterwards.
After that his projects fizzled out into unreal ones like having his gf step in and try Russian, and commiting spousal abuse by making her read, speak, and listen to Esperanto. :P
Benny coaches a monoglot to learn Esperanto: Week 1 (with En/Eo subtitles)
For me Benny's downfalls in language promises, as well as some other aspects of life, were a good amateur-psychological study and a lesson, that faking your way through life with toxic positivity and not adressing your demons and weaknesses honestly, will only get you so far until the hard wall of reality smacks you in the face. But he had some fun along the way, so that's cool.
"""If you're a human species, you already are exactly that kind of animal, thas has this particular talent, that has been genetically determined by history of natural selection. But sometimes it seems, that somehow some of us have dodged the evolution :D"""
Exactly right! Though I would call attention to the fact that we have all been dodging what Prof. Eddolf Duttler the Naughty Heretic may call "purifying harsh Darwinian selection" for about 200 years.
Unlike laymen, who mistake evolution as a progressive process trending always towards more complexity and traits we value, like intelligence, you are of course aware, as a highly intelligent person, that:
1. evolution works on mutation and by selection,
2. the overwhelming majority of mutations are detrimental, because they are simply copying mistakes,
3. it is only by harsh, purifying selection pressures that organisms evolve into any possible direction.
Therefore, with harsh selection gone since about 1800, we in the human species now have:
1. remnant normal humans, with low mutational load and good genetic health, who would have survived under Darwinian conditions
2. humans with various levels of high mutational load in body and the bodypart brain, who would not have survived under Darwinian conditions.
I agree with you that many people dodging evolution does have disadvantages and that this may create lots of trouble going forward in time. And that shutting our eyes to this while virtue-signalling about how all people are the same and wonderful, overstating environment and understating genetics may be part of that problem.
Though no matter what people with schizo-feminized brains may believe, I personally wouldn't advocate annihilation camps and breeding programs to artificially and brutally interfere by state-force. Neither does Prof. Eddolf Duttler.
Please refer to these productions by Prof. Naughty at your leasure:
Why Are Intelligent People Conformist But Super-Intelligent People Non-Conformist?
How We Allowed Intolerant Neurotics to Become Parasites off Society
How Genetic Changes Explain Why the West is So Utterly Polarized
Why the Flynn Effect Is An Illusion and We Are Becoming Less Intelligent
If anyone wants to brush up on their evolutionary theory, I can recommend this great freely available book, that starts basic, but covers a lot of ground:
The Red Queen Full Audiobook
To quote Maggie Simpson:
"This is indeed a disturbing universe."
That's my boy!
I clicked the like button several times so Zoran will probably deliver them after he cancel a bunch of memberships.
My line about evolution was a simplification for sure :)
Anthropologists' observation: our brain evolved drastically fast from pithecuses to first of sapiens, but it has degenerated, or at least has lost its mass 12 times faster since first of sapiens to us. And is getting smaller right now through generations. So it's true in the end, that it was better before!
it has degenerated, or at least has lost its mass 12 times faster since first of sapiens to us. And is getting smaller right now through generations
Originally, I got to know this, when was watching one of the lectures of Drobishevskiy (Дробышевский).
Russian anthropologist and a popularizer of science. Highly reccommend his lectures, it's a mixture of detailed knowledge and stand-up-like humor, a very funny view on the daily life of our ancestors.
I can't now point out the lecture when I picked up this thing about the brain, but I just easily got googled another article:
Interesting, thank you. However, let me point out that the conclusion doesn't seem to be so certain. The main original research paper quoted in the article, and which is also the one I've found in a (admittedly brief) google scholar search, states:
Increase in the size of the braincase, so characteristic for human evolution, stopped by the end of Pleistocene. Several authors have noticed a decrease since then, while others at least agree there has been no further increase.
Still interesting but way less dramatic than the article states. Also, no data about current brain size reduction. All quoted research compares changes along the holocene era.
Besides, the paper states:
Since brain size in humans, as in other mammals, is strongly correlated with body size through shared growth regulators, the hypothesis is advanced that the decrease in CC during Holocene is a by-product of a generalized structural reduction known as gracilization of the skeleton.
So, I wonder what happens to brain:body ratio, which is often considered to be a more predictive measure of cognitive ability.
Again, it's an interesting piece of data but I don't think it allows us to make any clear conclusions about a possible decline in intelligence. The original article itself seems to state as much.
[Edit] To answer my own question, at least one paper shows that brain reduction is larger than expected from body mass reduction:
This other article gives reason to doubt the relationship between brain size and even encephalization index and intelligence, by comparing humand and equine changes in brain size. It concludes that it has more to do with
size of the gastrointestinal tract and, consequently, its musculoskeletal supports
This conclusion is in line with that of the article I mentioned above.
I don't have my own opinion for that matter, actually. But mr. Drobishevskiy keeps claiming that comparing to the average brain mass of first sapiens, there was a reduction. He has said this on several occasions while he's definitely aware of things like encephalization index, ratio, etc. Maybe It's just a cool punchline to say on occasion and the conclusion isn't certain :)
But in the same time, it's safe to say, that selection isn't going under the same conditions, that have led to growth of the brain. I don't know, what selection is present today? By cars? By followers on Instagram? :)
Yeah, that's the million dollar question. Is the human being evolving now? How? What evolutionary pressures are there?
Спасибо еще раз за информацию. Будет интересным смотреть лекции С. Дробышевского и, конечно же, это отличная практика русского языка.
There is definitely language talent (in the same way that there is talent for everything) but I don't think it's as easy to define as we like to imagine, and I don't think it's a prerequisite in order to learn a language (which is what I think you're referring to).
A person with language talent: Daniel Tammet. A person without language talent: me.
Of course there are varying degrees of talent and non-talent, but it just doesn't really matter for any practical reason. If something takes me an extra 30% of time compared to someone else, why does it matter? Does my life depend on it? Hopefully not.
What is talent anyway? Are we comparing apples to apples? I think what really matters here is essentially "luck" and personality traits. Is that talent? I feel that I am lucky because I like languages. If I didn't like languages, meaning that I wouldn't enjoy the thousands of hours spent reading and learning, then I wouldn't make progress. If someone has more talent than me but doesn't like learning languages, then are they going to be more successful at learning and have the ability to grind away? Probably not.
Other ways that I am lucky:
- I like the unknown, confusion, and clearing up confusion piece by piece
- I like grinding away and sharpening a craft
- I like learning about other cultures
- I have awareness and can tell when I'm over-extended and need to scale back to build foundation
- I have realistic timelines from the beginning and don't get intimated by long timelines
- I am patient and enjoy process more than result (people who need quick results to reach goals usually can't grind day in and day out in order to reach those goals)
If someone didn't have the above traits then they would have a much more difficult time than I do, but I don't consider these differences talent vs non-talent.
> (in the same way that there is talent for everything) but I don't think it's as easy to define as we like to imagine,
That is to say, since Talent was a coin we still can't define this term when it comes to somewhat innate mental advantage in a particular field. But still we believe that it exists, ok.
So it's safe to say that it's sort of a religion, that shifts responsibility from a subject to the abstract elusive term beyond your influence. In practical terms, such an attitude gives you nothing.
But it is calming, at least, you can always blame the ancient coin when you can't do or don't have something :)
Speaking of Daniel and other geniuses, I can't say much, but I certainly don't want this kind of advantage based on other mental issues. Unless I'll get pancakes with maple syrup.
Most of the Talent believers in my life so far were people with lack of following three:
1. Genuine desire for a goal and the readiness to embrace a journey with all its ups and downs
2. Fundamental self-confidence (that is always a consequence of abuse of some extent, imo)
3. Opportunities or prerequisite (Complexity or even intricacy of one's life conditions alone can undermine any advantage or talent before we discover such).
Your last three points gave me a thought. When you really look at people who have so-called "talent". If you look closely. These people have put in a lot of work. It may not seem like it at times and for certain things there may be physical attributes that may contribute to some "extra" success, or a little less "work", but most people described as talented are putting in a lot of time on their pursuit. The people that claim someone has a talent don't see, or ignore the work that the "talented" person has put in.
I thought this post was interesting when I read it. Is it considered talent if one does something that is similar, but different like a pro cricket player who become a pro baseball player over in the states is that talent or is he just using his previous experience (or learning Spanish if one knows French like others mentioned)? Or are we talking about people who were born smarter (like you said these people did something that is often overlooked to become this way).
I believe we're talking about people who were born smarter in a particular field.
What's interesting about smartness is that we still don't know what it is. Neurobiology, psychology, philosophy, none of them have a consistent definition of intellect, neither a model, that predicts some intellectual feats in the future. There are some observations, some hypotheses and a lot of speculation.
So we never know if an individual has an intellect. What if he doesn't, how should we judge his intellect?
There was an interesting experiment called Stanford Marshmallow Experiment, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanford_marshmallow_experiment
And even with some follow-up studies, even out of context of kids and their performance in life, it's clear, that not intellect, but the ability to delay gratification or more generally to complete long runs is crucial for most of the goals worth to mention. Because the most of such goals are large enough to reach in a single one titanic effort.
Even if you're a sprinter, your overall way to become a champion would be a long run :)
It's 2021, we create Neural Networks, but we still judge reliably our own intellect only by results.
So if you want to know 100 languages and do complex math in your head, maybe it's perfectly possible, but are you willing to fully commit yourself to such an autistic goal?
I think it's a bit like golf vs basketball. Sure it's obvious that someone who is 7 feet tall is going to find it easier to slam dunk than someone who is 5 feet tall.
But in golf? It's practice, practice, practice.
I think language learning is similar to golf. It's hard to say if Tiger Woods or any other golf player would be as awesome if they were without the 20,000 hours of practice they put in.
Likewise, if you practice a language for 10,000 (use it a lot every day for five years) I think it would be impossible not to have developed very good proficiency in it.
It's when someone doesn't put in enough effort and are surprised that they don't succeed that is wierd to me.
Language learning is a time and effort game, definitely.
Very Well said.
Good post. Liked it.
I concur with a lot of your observations. I also found French "easy" and probably for the same reason (I already spoke Spanish).
I didn't, however, think I have any knack for language because I learned by brute force as an adult so I have no perception that it is anything other than brutal hard work of memorization, grit, practice and determination.
For me, I believe there are varying degrees of categories of effort you need to put in to different languages.
I didn't make much effort to try to learn French pronunciation as an example.
With Russian I can barely pronounce some words. I'm aware that I need to do different tongue placement and aspirate etc. I have spent hours trying to do the two different "sh" sounds. I think I may be "lucky" rather than talented that I figured out that e.g. the "d" in Spanish isn't the same "d" as in English so I have already clued in to the fact that it's the tongue that makes a big chunk of the difference.
Also, with memorization, I found Spanish I got a big lift from all the English words that are already mispronounced Spanish or close enough. The fact that Spanish is consistent in pronunciation helped and even though I spoke Spanish with an English accent it didn't make it unintelligible.
French was harder to memroize because the pronunciation is whacked compared to Spanish, but since the written form of the word is readable and also mostly close to Spanish I got a huge lift. In both Spanish and French there were some words (30%?) that didn't sound or look anything like English so I found them very difficult to remember. But there weren't enough of them to dent my enthusiasm.
With Russian it's the opposite. Maybe 10% at most are similar to *French* with a handful only of English. It truly is alien and I get almost no help from my existing languages (except for the 10% from French which is not enough). It was a massive blow to my confidence that brute forcing just didn't work. At all.
I was able to learn 10-20% as many words per day in Russian as I could in French/Spanish and I kept forgetting them over and over and over to the point I was only holding 1 in 20 words even after a couple of weeks of attempting to memorize them. So I had to develop techniques to assist. Now that I have figured out some techniques (partly) I'm able to hold about 1 in 3 words for up to 3 weeks in a cycle which is definitely progress. Pronunciation is also killer in Russian. They have clusters of consonants that just don't go together to my eyes and are hard AF to pronounce at speed. Plus some of them are just freaking WRONG. Their 2nd 'sh' is just wierd. Their 'd' is wierd. The double "i" at the end I can't figure out what sound it is and my mouth can't make it. But that just means I need to figure out how to solve the "problem" of pronunciation.
Mandarin is next for me after Russian.
My *guess* is that grammar will be easy. I don't care about reading so I won't waste my time with it. On listening I suspect that I will have even more difficulty than with Russian.
But... it is my belief that I will have an easier time with listening than with pronunciation - even if I get it wrong I think my brain will condense two or more subtly different sounding words into the same sound and I will just think "oh they use the same word to mean different words" and I will need to figure it out from context. Doable even if it's wrong.
With pronunciation it's going to be MUCH worse than Russian. e.g. distinguishing between tones and even vowels/consonants I suspect that I will need to babble *every single little sound* like a baby for weeks or months on end in order to be able to pronounce anything at all correctly.
Anyhow yeah good post.
For what it's worth, I notice lots of ways that Russian is like English, in structure at least. And even though it's highly inflected, that inflection comes from our common Indo-European heritage and remains in vestigial form in English. The similarities between Russian and English and the other IE languages are apparent by contrast when I watch LangFocus videos or read Wikipedia articles about all sorts of unimagined concepts and constructs in non-Indo-European languages. Hungarian, Euskara, Guarani, Navaho, et al., each seem wierder than the other. It will be interesting to hear your thoughts when you do tackle Mandarin.
It seems wierdly like a mix of a romance language and German to me. I made a half baked attempt to learn German about a decade ago so I have some inkling of it. The way it has conjugations reminds me kind of both Spanish/French and German. The way it has cases reminds me of German.
And yes, it's *familiar* to an extent. The main wierd thing to me (other than the cyrllic - which I'm essentially ignoring because I'm mainly listening) is just the pronunciation and the number of words that have no cognate in English, French or Spanish.
Before I tried (and lost interest) in German I spent about a year trying to do Japanese (and failed). I failed (I believe) because I was trying to learn it from reading with no listening - it was impossible to get my hands on mp3s of the words at the time.
Japanese is truly alien. Everything about it except maybe the fact it does have present and past tenses (I can't remember much else about it other than it's wierdness). I expect when I get to Mandarin my mind will be blown.
I have a friend who is also interested in linguistics (aren't we all to some extent) who says that there is a language where you are always aware of physical orientation when speaking.
My thought is that the number of ways concepts can be expressed is limitless.
Any baby at all even on the left side of the "talent" bell curve can learn *any* language.
I think that in any given language group it's "easy" to learn L2 languages that have substantial overlap with your L1 and "hard" to learn languages that don't overlap.
But... for babies... every language has no overlap because they don't have an L1. Every single one is alien to them.
So my theory is that learning an "alien" language is doable but it's clouded by the fact that there are languages close to you in your own language "group".
If, however, you *never* picked from a language near your own language group every single one would require a large amount of effort and the process (if not the details) would likely be almost exactly the same. e.g. for babies it's babbling to get pronunciation of syllables right, then one or two word phrases, feedback from parents, build on it, rinse repeat until basic functionality achieved, go to school, learn reading/learn grammar.
So yeah I think we don't see the wood for the trees.
2c. For what it's worth.
If you're a human species, you already are exactly that kind of animal, thas has this particular talent, that has been genetically determined by history of natural selection. But sometimes it seems, that somehow some of us have dodged the evolution :D
I don't think there's a talent. It's a combination of desire, persistence, focus, and PATIENCE (and I'm sure a few other things). You've touched on that in your article. Also the expectations, that you also mention, are key. The way things are marketed now it seems like you can learn a language a lot quicker than you actually can. Lots of ordinary people are able to learn a language. Many that aren't particularly smart or seem like they would have some extraordinary talent....but they all had to have had a reason and a desire to learn the language and so they did. Whatever it took, however long it took.
People who aren't interested in learning a language simply won't. Or if they don't have the patience or desire to make the effort they won't either.
Some people may be better and remembering things. Also I think enjoying reading is immensely helpful. I think someone that does not like to read won't learn anything to the same depth as someone that does.
I think you're right. I also think that the nub of the issue is that there is some truth in the "learn a language in 3 months" schtick. I believe you *can* learn a language (close to English) in 3 months at least basic functionality. Purists will argue "you didn't learn it to C2 level so you haven't learned it". I say "if you could survive in e.g. Mexico with your Spanish then you "know" Spanish.
Where it falls down is when guys like Benny Lewis say you can learn *any* language in 3 months. Doubt it.
That said, Steve Kaufman says if you put in adequate effort you can learn *any* language in a year.
I think he's right. I personally am betting that I can learn my target not-close-to-English languages good enough to understand most youtubers in 6 months. I'm finding out if I'm right as we speak.
Unless you're putting in minimum of 3 hours per day into listening comprehension and reading 2000+ words per day at your current level of known words then I think you'll be disappointed with your Russian comprehension in 6 months. If you had 15k known words now and spend 3+ hours per day then I think a 6 month target is fairly reasonable. Of course it also depends on what you consider as "good enough". A way to compare your current reading level to the target goal of understanding spoken language is to see if you can read a text and listen to the audio simultaneously without pausing and being able to fully understand what you're reading/hearing. If you can do this comfortably then taking off the training wheels (text) isn't too far away. If you're failing miserably then you are nowhere close to understanding spoken language at natural speed.
So what you're saying is that you believe that the use of lingQ as the primary method is the most efficient way. Fair enough: you *might* be right.
While I believe lingQ as the primary method *works* I haven't tried using it as my primary method myself. I *believe* my own method is faster. It just makes logical sense to me that it would be.
I have learned two languages already (easy ones admittedly) essentially without using lingQ at all (in the case of French this isn't exactly true because I discovered it somewhere between halfway through month4 and start of month 5) but by then I could already understand intermediate French.
So I'm not saying you're wrong. You're clearly right that it works for you. But I suspect that we're not comparing exactly apples to apples.
Your experience is using lingQ as your primary tool, right? And it works for you under a certain timeline.
I'm not using lingQ as my primary tool and I *know* my method works for me. I'm not yet sure of the timeline for a non-western-european language but I *am* sure of the timeline for a western european language. My method is SRS *listening* and youtube videos *listening* plus some lingQ *listening*. Basically my method is essentially all listening.
So my expectation is this: I will be at *at least* B1 level of listening comprehension by the end of the six months. I am a betting man, though so I'm more than 50% sure that I'll be at B2.
No way I'll get to C1, but that's not my goal.
Anyhow: Good debate. I like it.
Can you elaborate on SRS listening part?
Yeah. I spent some months recording mp3 of google translate one word at a time until I have 3,000 words. I imported them into anki along with the russian word in cyrillic and its translation. When my anki flashcard for each word opens it plays the mp3 so I hear the word instead of focusing on the cyrllic.
It's a bit like when you click on a word in the mini stories - it plays a sound for the word.
So essentially I'm learning the spoken words not the written words.
Why? My theory is that the human brain is *adapted* to learn spoken languages whereas written language is *un-natural*.
Your theory is spot on. Let's say if you have to learn a new language, how are you going to approach it based on your method?
For some reason I only see "import" in your comment so I'm replying to myself instead.
How would I approach a new language?
1. Get a bunch of mp3s matching the 3,000 most common frequency words spoken in the target language
2. Create an anki deck
3. export that 3,000 words into a text file
4. import the text file into lingQ so I have a baseline to "click" each time I "learn" a word in anki
5. learn the words in anki till I hit 2,000 words
6. to stop myself from slitting my wrists with boredom for the approx 2-3 months it takes to cram the 2,000 words in, I would click through the various mini stories in lingQ to pass the time.
7. after 3,000 words in anki I would start adding grammar constructions out of lingQ mini stories as mp3s at the end of the 3,000
8. at 3,000 words start watching youtube videos in target language at A1 and keep on repeatedly clicking through linqQ ministories to learn grammar by osmosis
9. gradually move from A1 to A2 to B1 to B2 youtubers as I start to understand more. e.g. in french in was alice ayel, then innerfrench, then solange te parle then cyprien then squeezie (target). import the transcripts into lingQ so I can catch up on the missing vocab from the youtubers I don't know.
10. continue until "challenge met" (either six months or until I could understand generally the target youtuber) - in the case of french the target youtuber was "squeezie"
For some reason, I only see "import" in your comment so I'm replying to you under this post.
In those three months, I wonder if you go through all the mini-stories and other courses aimed for Beginner 2 and intermediate level or maybe a novel or two, without using Anki, what are the chances that you will "accumulate" all those 3000 common words by osmosis. Because I purchased an audiobook of "2000 common words" in German and to my surprise, I could recognize all of them and even those which were used in example sentences. By that time I read a couple of novels and did some courses aimed at beginner and intermediate levels along with mini-stories.
In terms of developing grammar constructions, perhaps I have waited for too long like for 16 months to start sentence mining in Anki. I should have started a bit earlier?
So far my approach has been all listening-like yours. Whatever I read here at LingQ I also listened to the corresponding text. For a couple of thousand hours it should be listening heavy (even if you are reading you should combine it with audio).
Your speaking is directly tied to strong listening skills. I asked an 85-year-old lady where my student hostel is located - is my German getting better?
She said she could understand me effortlessly. At this point, I had already spent 2300 hours of active listening.
Same here I can only see "import" so replying to myself again.
"In those three months, I wonder if you go through all the mini-stories and other courses aimed for Beginner 2 and intermediate level or maybe a novel or two, without using Anki, what are the chances that you will "accumulate" all those 3000 common words by osmosis."
Don't get me wrong. Intellectually I think it will work. Steve Kaufmann does it. It's an emotional thing. I *know* my method works and I roughly know the timeline.
I don't know the timeline for doing it completely with lingQ and if I'm honest it "feels" wrong somehow. Written words seem artificial as a contextual basis on which to hang the concepts. I believe forming my own mental images and hanging the sound of the words on those is better. I might be wrong but I don't have the experience of doing only lingQ to know.
"Because I purchased an audiobook of "2000 common words" in German and to my surprise, I could recognize all of them and even those which were used in example sentences."
How long did it take though? My issue with trying to use lingQ is unless you try to actively recall (which is what anki does) it's essentially using passive learning which is less efficient than active for *rapid* learning. So although I believe it *will* work (eventually), I'm not convinced that just by reading over and over *ONLY* will you accumulate the vocabulary anywhere near as fast.
Conversely, SRS IMO is useless for grammar. Grammar is definitely the thing you can accumulate by osomis, which is why I'm delighted to have found lingQ. I think lingQ is awesome. Just I don't think it's awesome for the reasons that are being stated.
"So far my approach has been all listening-like yours. Whatever I read here at LingQ I also listened to the corresponding text. For a couple of thousand hours it should be listening heavy (even if you are reading you should combine it with audio)."
Agreed. I barely pay attention to the written words themselves. They are placeholders to click on so I can hear the sounds.
"She said she could understand me effortlessly. At this point, I had already spent 2300 hours of active listening."
Good job. You should be getting pretty close to fluent by now, no?