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  Topic: Why is it that we do not have  to teach, children passive verbs?< Next Oldest | Next Newest >  
BWE



Posts: 1898
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 09 2007,11:23   

Last night, I helped my wife edit a dozen or so of her class's science journals (really more investigative journalism since they needed to find sources for some things). Sometimes reading middle school science writing dulls the mental pencil and vaguely resembles smoking opium. Occasionally the effort a student exerts leads to an interesting and sometimes entertaining product.

Mostly however we get "Dr. so and so was being happy. That is not surprising since she  iswasbebeingwouldshouldwerebarf...."

One paper (6 pages double spaced 12 point) included only 2 active verbs which stood out like rallying flags on an abandoned battlefield.

And it occurred to me: Is there an innate sense of the concept "to be" that renders a child able to learn words to describe the concept without instruction? We may teach tense but we never need to teach "is". Just whether to use was or will be.

We all learn the meaning of the word "hot" the same way. We learn that apples differ from kitties. But we don't learn what "is" an apple. We don't learn what do you want to "be" when you grow up?  Who in their right mind would teach "wasn't" to a child? (It wasn't me. I didn't do it)

They just learn. Why?

--------------
Who said that ev'ry wish would be heard and answered
When wished on the morning star
Somebody thought of that, and someone believed it
Look what it's done so far

The Daily Wingnut

   
Arden Chatfield



Posts: 6657
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 09 2007,11:44   

All languages are that way.

Children do not learn 99.999% of their languages by being explicitly 'taught'.  Most kids in the world don't have anyone telling them how to form verb phrases. Most adults wouldn't know how to explain it anyway.

Every language in the world has thousands of rules, and kids learn them simply by hearing them spoken by everyone around them from infancy. There are languages out there far more complex than English, languages that most adults would find 'unlearnable', and yet by age 4 children have 99% of them mastered, including most of the really hard bits. Just by hearing them.

Passive verbs are common in spoken English, so kids learn them.

There is also the fact that in schools kids are often rewarded for producing stuffy written English with lots of passive verbs, but that's a separate issue.

--------------
"Rich is just mad because he thought all titties had fur on them until last week when a shorn transvestite ruined his childhood dreams by jumping out of a spider man cake and man boobing him in the face lips." - Erasmus

  
BWE



Posts: 1898
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 09 2007,11:59   

Maybe the heart of me question runs deeper than that. Something slightly intangible struck me regarding passive verb - not simply that the words accrue on their own but that a special kind of adoption takes place. The nature of the word itself or words themselves imbed into a place that children access in a unique and sophisticated way.

Maybe I simply felt the wind from a passing muse who saw no opportunity at my house and simply passed on, looking for greener pastures.

--------------
Who said that ev'ry wish would be heard and answered
When wished on the morning star
Somebody thought of that, and someone believed it
Look what it's done so far

The Daily Wingnut

   
keiths



Posts: 2041
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 10 2007,06:01   

Arden,

If you don't want to blow your cover, I'll understand, but what is your linguistic specialty?

--------------
And the set of natural numbers is also the set that starts at 0 and goes to the largest number.  -- Joe G

Please stop putting words into my mouth that don't belong there and thoughts into my mind that don't belong there. -- KF

  
Arden Chatfield



Posts: 6657
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 10 2007,12:03   

Quote (keiths @ Mar. 10 2007,06:01)
Arden,

If you don't want to blow your cover, I'll understand, but what is your linguistic specialty?

I readily admit that it ain't child language acquisition, if that's what you mean.  :p

Historical linguistics and morphology, basically. Very un-Chomskian stuff.

--------------
"Rich is just mad because he thought all titties had fur on them until last week when a shorn transvestite ruined his childhood dreams by jumping out of a spider man cake and man boobing him in the face lips." - Erasmus

  
Alan Fox



Posts: 1391
Joined: Aug. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 10 2007,12:12   

BTW Arden, if you are still interested, I heard a report on French Radio a few days ago that there are still around 300,000 Breton speakers.

  
Arden Chatfield



Posts: 6657
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 10 2007,12:18   

Quote (Alan Fox @ Mar. 10 2007,12:12)
BTW Arden, if you are still interested, I heard a report on French Radio a few days ago that there are still around 300,000 Breton speakers.

Funny you should mention that. Jeannot lives in Brittany and a few months ago I asked him how much Breton was still spoken there, and he said 'it's almost gone'. Tho maybe he just doesn't live in one of the parts of Brittany where there are still speakers.

For 20 years now, the reports I've heard about Breton have been pretty pessimistic. 300,000 sounds like a nice number (as endangered Celtic languages go), but the real question is, how old are most of those speakers? If 95% of those are people in their sixties and over, and almost none children, the language is in big trouble indeed.

So to really make sense of that number, you'd need to hear a breakdown by age. I don't happen to know what the facts are, tho I'm not too optimistic. Minority languages are dying like flies all over the world, and Europe is no exception.

--------------
"Rich is just mad because he thought all titties had fur on them until last week when a shorn transvestite ruined his childhood dreams by jumping out of a spider man cake and man boobing him in the face lips." - Erasmus

  
Alan Fox



Posts: 1391
Joined: Aug. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 10 2007,12:35   

Quote (Arden Chatfield @ Mar. 10 2007,07:18)
 
Quote (Alan Fox @ Mar. 10 2007,12:12)
BTW Arden, if you are still interested, I heard a report on French Radio a few days ago that there are still around 300,000 Breton speakers.

Funny you should mention that. Jeannot lives in Brittany and a few months ago I asked him how much Breton was still spoken there, and he said 'it's almost gone'. Tho maybe he just doesn't live in one of the parts of Brittany where there are still speakers.

For 20 years now, the reports I've heard about Breton have been pretty pessimistic. 300,000 sounds like a nice number (as endangered Celtic languages go), but the real question is, how old are most of those speakers? If 95% of those are people in their sixties and over, and almost none children, the language is in big trouble indeed.

So to really make sense of that number, you'd need to hear a breakdown by age. I don't happen to know what the facts are, tho I'm not too optimistic. Minority languages are dying like flies all over the world, and Europe is no exception.

I suspect not too many (or any) are monolingual in Breton. I wonder if the situation is similar to Welsh, where there is a positive effort to retain and revive the language through education and the media. Amongst the Welsh, it is a point of pride to be able to speak the language, but almost everyone is bilingual these days. I recall the last woman who could speak Cornish died in the eighteenth century. But, with no one to speak to, how would they know :) ?

It is claimed there are over a million Occitan speakers, but everyone speaks French too, so I don't hear it spoken unless overhearing locals talking amongst themselves. The problem is the older ones who grew up speaking Occitan as a first language were never taught how to write it, and the attempt to revive the language revolves around teaching it as a written language. We do get the local TV news in Occitan though.

  
Arden Chatfield



Posts: 6657
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 10 2007,12:53   

Quote (Alan Fox @ Mar. 10 2007,12:35)
 
Quote (Arden Chatfield @ Mar. 10 2007,07:18)
     
Quote (Alan Fox @ Mar. 10 2007,12:12)
BTW Arden, if you are still interested, I heard a report on French Radio a few days ago that there are still around 300,000 Breton speakers.

Funny you should mention that. Jeannot lives in Brittany and a few months ago I asked him how much Breton was still spoken there, and he said 'it's almost gone'. Tho maybe he just doesn't live in one of the parts of Brittany where there are still speakers.

For 20 years now, the reports I've heard about Breton have been pretty pessimistic. 300,000 sounds like a nice number (as endangered Celtic languages go), but the real question is, how old are most of those speakers? If 95% of those are people in their sixties and over, and almost none children, the language is in big trouble indeed.

So to really make sense of that number, you'd need to hear a breakdown by age. I don't happen to know what the facts are, tho I'm not too optimistic. Minority languages are dying like flies all over the world, and Europe is no exception.

I suspect not too many (or any) are monolingual in Breton. I wonder if the situation is similar to Welsh, where there is a positive effort to retain and revive the language through education and the media. Amongst the Welsh, it is a point of pride to be able to speak the language, but almost everyone is bilingual these days. I recall the last woman who could speak Cornish died in the eighteenth century. But, with no one to speak to, how would they know :) ?

It is claimed there are over a million Occitan speakers, but everyone speaks French too, so I don't hear it spoken unless overhearing locals talking amongst themselves. The problem is the older ones who grew up speaking Occitan as a first language were never taught how to write it, and the attempt to revive the language revolves around teaching it as a written language. We do get the local TV news in Occitan though.

I suspect extremely few are monolingual in Breton -- if there are any, it's probably just 95-year-old ladies way out in remote villages.

Welsh is a different case entirely. Welsh has very few monolinguals, too, but kids are still learning the language. A LOT of people still speak it. Welsh is in a situation of what's called 'stable bilingualism', where multiple generations keep learning both languages.  It's a very positive aspect of Welsh Nationalism to speak it, and the Welsh/British government has had a benign attitude toward Welsh for a long time.

This is in contrast to France, which has pretty aggressively repressed all of its minority languages for many decades. In 1940 it's estimated that there were a million Breton speakers, many of them monolingual. Now there's 300,000, and I'd bet the great majority are elderly bilinguals. The French government came down pretty hard on Breton and Basque after WW2.

In Ireland, I'm told that children quit learning Irish 20 years ago in what had previously been the last strongholds of the Gaeltacht, such as Donegal. So Irish is in big trouble, too.

In contrast, when I was in north Wales several years ago, I heard teenagers in small towns speaking it, there were loads of Welsh-language radio & TV broadcasts, and Welsh newspapers and books. A year or so ago I even bumped into a Welsh-language blog about the Simpsons. Good signs. The language will never again have millions of speakers or many monolinguals, but it's not in immediate danger of dying out.

As far as I know, however, no other Celtic language has managed to acheive this kind of stable bilingualism. It's pretty much agreed that Welsh will probably outlast all the other Celtic languages.

--------------
"Rich is just mad because he thought all titties had fur on them until last week when a shorn transvestite ruined his childhood dreams by jumping out of a spider man cake and man boobing him in the face lips." - Erasmus

  
Alan Fox



Posts: 1391
Joined: Aug. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 10 2007,13:10   

I guess it's just evolution in action, and only the fit survive :)

  
Arden Chatfield



Posts: 6657
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 10 2007,13:23   

Quote (Alan Fox @ Mar. 10 2007,13:10)
I guess it's just evolution in action, and only the fit survive :)

It's not so much evolution as the same kind of factors that killed off the Ivory-billed woodpecker and the Tasmanian Wolf. :(

--------------
"Rich is just mad because he thought all titties had fur on them until last week when a shorn transvestite ruined his childhood dreams by jumping out of a spider man cake and man boobing him in the face lips." - Erasmus

  
Alan Fox



Posts: 1391
Joined: Aug. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 10 2007,13:32   

Quote (Arden Chatfield @ Mar. 10 2007,08:23)
 
Quote (Alan Fox @ Mar. 10 2007,13:10)
I guess it's just evolution in action, and only the fit survive :)

It's not so much evolution as the same kind of factors that killed off the Ivory-billed woodpecker and the Tasmanian Wolf. :(

So, you made me google
You never get this stuff with ID.

  
Arden Chatfield



Posts: 6657
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 10 2007,13:56   

Quote (Alan Fox @ Mar. 10 2007,13:32)
Quote (Arden Chatfield @ Mar. 10 2007,08:23)
   
Quote (Alan Fox @ Mar. 10 2007,13:10)
I guess it's just evolution in action, and only the fit survive :)

It's not so much evolution as the same kind of factors that killed off the Ivory-billed woodpecker and the Tasmanian Wolf. :(

So, you made me google
You never get this stuff with ID.

Indeed, when a pro-ID post makes you look up sth on Google, it's generally just to find out how exactly you've been lied to.  :angry:

--------------
"Rich is just mad because he thought all titties had fur on them until last week when a shorn transvestite ruined his childhood dreams by jumping out of a spider man cake and man boobing him in the face lips." - Erasmus

  
Dr.GH



Posts: 2113
Joined: May 2002

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 11 2007,03:21   

Yeah, sure, what ever.

I have seen a gross absence of teachers, scientists, or teachers of science in this thread.

Why not shut the fuck up?

How about you all sound off on your teacherly and sciency qualifications?  I'll start:

First teaching 7th and 8th grade (US) science in English and Spanish 1971.

Undergraduate Research fellow, 1972

First college teaching, 1974

Graduate Research fellow 1975

Doctorate, 1976

First post-graduate/post-doctoral teaching, 1978

Tenure, Professor of Medicine 1985 (resigned 1985)

Professor (archaeology) of the year award, 2000
Board of Trustees award of merit, 2000


You?

I have not seen any people with any aparent qualifications arguing any position regarding science education in this thread.   This is the problem with science education in America- idiots feel qualified to hold opinions and even public office!

Stop wasting those poor little electrons.

--------------
"Science is the horse that pulls the cart of philosophy."

L. Susskind, 2004 "SMOLIN VS. SUSSKIND: THE ANTHROPIC PRINCIPLE"

   
Alan Fox



Posts: 1391
Joined: Aug. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 11 2007,04:06   

Quote
I have not seen any people with any aparent (sic) qualifications arguing any position regarding science education in this thread.


I was not aware there was a minimum requirement of academic qualifications before people were allowed to comment in this forum.

 
Quote
This is the problem with science education in America- idiots feel qualified to hold opinions and even public office!


The alternative is intelligence tests for prospective political candidates, or even for anyone wishing to express an opinion. I can see the idea has merit, but maybe it would be difficult to implement. Perhaps there should be a bar to posting while intoxicated, too?

  
Stephen Elliott



Posts: 1754
Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 11 2007,06:58   

Quote (Dr.GH @ Mar. 11 2007,02:21)
Yeah, sure, what ever.

I have seen a gross absence of teachers, scientists, or teachers of science in this thread.

Why not shut the fuck up?

How about you all sound off on your teacherly and sciency qualifications?  I'll start:

First teaching 7th and 8th grade (US) science in English and Spanish 1971.

Undergraduate Research fellow, 1972

First college teaching, 1974

Graduate Research fellow 1975

Doctorate, 1976

First post-graduate/post-doctoral teaching, 1978

Tenure, Professor of Medicine 1985 (resigned 1985)

Professor (archaeology) of the year award, 2000
Board of Trustees award of merit, 2000


You?

I have not seen any people with any aparent qualifications arguing any position regarding science education in this thread.   This is the problem with science education in America- idiots feel qualified to hold opinions and even public office!

Stop wasting those poor little electrons.

What brought that on? *confused*
I think the discussion so far is rather interesting. ???

  
Arden Chatfield



Posts: 6657
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 11 2007,12:56   

Quote (Dr.GH @ Mar. 11 2007,02:21)
Yeah, sure, what ever.

I have seen a gross absence of teachers, scientists, or teachers of science in this thread.

Why not shut the fuck up?

How about you all sound off on your teacherly and sciency qualifications?  I'll start:

First teaching 7th and 8th grade (US) science in English and Spanish 1971.

Undergraduate Research fellow, 1972

First college teaching, 1974

Graduate Research fellow 1975

Doctorate, 1976

First post-graduate/post-doctoral teaching, 1978

Tenure, Professor of Medicine 1985 (resigned 1985)

Professor (archaeology) of the year award, 2000
Board of Trustees award of merit, 2000

You?

I have not seen any people with any aparent qualifications arguing any position regarding science education in this thread.   This is the problem with science education in America- idiots feel qualified to hold opinions and even public office!

Stop wasting those poor little electrons.


Um, perhaps you didn't really *read* it, but we weren't really "arguing any position regarding science education" in this thread...

Plus, we had a whole thread about people's credentials a few months ago, I think last fall. (Can't remember where it is.) But anyway, since you're inviting me to brag:

BA, linguistics, 1985
MA, linguistics, 1988
PhD, linguistics, 1994

4 years graduate instructor experience, 1986-1991

Since 1995, I've been in the 'private sector', so no more teaching experience (sadly).

I've published about 10-12 peer reviewed articles since 1991 (I'd have to look up my CV for the exact number) and my dissertation was published through an American academic press in 2003.

I make maximum possible use of all my remaining electrons.

Happy?

(Indeed, blogging while drunk isn't usually a great idea.)

--------------
"Rich is just mad because he thought all titties had fur on them until last week when a shorn transvestite ruined his childhood dreams by jumping out of a spider man cake and man boobing him in the face lips." - Erasmus

  
Mike PSS



Posts: 428
Joined: Sep. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 11 2007,18:17   

Quote (Arden Chatfield @ Mar. 11 2007,12:56)
(Indeed, blogging while drunk isn't usually a great idea.)

There's a technology for everything nowadays.

http://www.testsymptomsathome.com/als20.asp



EDIT- Oh yeah.  I say "drink"!.  Then blow.

  
bwee



Posts: 13
Joined: Oct. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 11 2007,18:39   

Dr. Gh.

Even though I never finished fifth grade and can't read or write, a whiff of my flatulence holds more insight than your entire collected works which rarely rise even to the lower half of what a tard would call mediocrity yet which hold the wisdom that has since come dislodged from your cerebral cortex and lodged just above your amygdala, cutting off communication from anything above it. Look! a shiny thing!

Gotcha.
-bwee

  
improvius



Posts: 807
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 12 2007,16:51   

Anyway, if I may be forgiven for addressing the original post in this thread, I would have to disagree with BWE.  I think language influences thought more than thought influences language in this case.  Of course, my linguistic credentials (a couple of college classes) are easily eclipsed by several of the posters here, so I could be totally wrong.  But it seems that concepts of existence as well as their linguistic expressions vary tremendously between different cultures.

Here is an interesting collection of snippets on the subject that you might find interesting.

(Edited to improve upon the unintended alliteration.)

--------------
Quote (afdave @ Oct. 02 2006,18:37)
Many Jews were in comfortable oblivion about Hitler ... until it was too late.
Many scientists will persist in comfortable oblivion about their Creator ... until it is too late.

  
BWE



Posts: 1898
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 12 2007,17:47   

Improvius-

Thanks,

That was exactly what I was looking for. Passive language is the way it is I am supposing. We have inherited our knack for  moving the action a safe distance away from our language and the greeks it is becoming apparent to me.

-PS Dr. GH, LSD?

--------------
Who said that ev'ry wish would be heard and answered
When wished on the morning star
Somebody thought of that, and someone believed it
Look what it's done so far

The Daily Wingnut

   
BWE



Posts: 1898
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 12 2007,17:53   

PS
In Brittany, those who speak 3 languages are called tri-lingual; two languages makes them bi-lingual; one language makes them american.

Right?

--------------
Who said that ev'ry wish would be heard and answered
When wished on the morning star
Somebody thought of that, and someone believed it
Look what it's done so far

The Daily Wingnut

   
UnMark



Posts: 97
Joined: Mar. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 12 2007,23:30   

I remember having a brief discussion about E-Prime some 3 1/2 years ago with some geeky friends of mine.  I recall thinking it a moderately intesting exercise for HS or college level comp classes.  Another acquaintance likened it to Orwellian Doublspeak.  Either way, it does tend to force one to use active tense.

  
Alan Fox



Posts: 1391
Joined: Aug. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 13 2007,02:58   

My Spanish/French dictionary distinguishes between two translations of "to be": ser for  qualité essentielle, permanente from estar for état temporaire. position. I. e. Where you are is different from who or what you are. So, I guess Seneca's complaint has echoes in Spanish to English translation.

(Also you have se trouver/hallarse)

Of course Portuguese, being a mixture of Spanish and French... (AFDave, please complete this for me)

  
Alan Fox



Posts: 1391
Joined: Aug. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 13 2007,06:32   

Quote (UnMark @ Mar. 12 2007,17:30)
I remember having a brief discussion about E-Prime some 3 1/2 years ago with some geeky friends of mine.  I recall thinking it a moderately intesting exercise for HS or college level comp classes.  Another acquaintance likened it to Orwellian Doublspeak.  Either way, it does tend to force one to use active tense.


Let's see.

 
Quote
The alternative is intelligence tests for prospective political candidates, or even for anyone wishing to express an opinion. I can see the idea has merit, but maybe it would be difficult to implement. Perhaps there should be a bar to posting while intoxicated, too?


Translated into E-prime:

"Make prospective political candidates and even people wishing to express an opinion take an intelligence test. I can see the the merit but also the difficulty in implementing it. Don't post when drunk."

I think I'll give it a go.

  
BWE



Posts: 1898
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 13 2007,11:18   

Occasionally the kids break in lyrical poetry.

Two gems:

"A drop of water is only a drop because it has little monsters in it."

"I was expecting the food chain to be complicated and beautiful because we have friends who are Catholic and they say grace before dinner."

--------------
Who said that ev'ry wish would be heard and answered
When wished on the morning star
Somebody thought of that, and someone believed it
Look what it's done so far

The Daily Wingnut

   
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