Day 7- Foreigner Talks

As we come closer to the programme’s end and start to see some results- the short documentary is coming together, the portraits have been set up; fewer people show up at discussion panels.

Yet the morning talks were oriented towards languages and more particularly heritage languages, the example of maybe a new emerging language (Rumañol) and a study (out of interest) on domestication of loanwords (from English to Hungarian).

Parents trying to teach their children different languages, people struggling to acquire a new language and bilinguals (or multilinguals in general); rejoice!
The first talk, given by Froso Argyi, discussed bilingual language development in childhood, with a study of children who were taught Greek- comparing those living in Greece with the US (and ongoing in the UK).

The first talk, given by Froso Argyi, discussed bilingual language development in childhood, with a study of children who were taught Greek- comparing those living in Greece with the US (and ongoing in the UK).

Heritage language speakers learn the language they speak at home (here Greek) and the societal dominant language (here English). While acquiring the languages happen fairly smoothly with the parents on one side and usually the school on the other, it remains a challenge for the child. The home language, as a minority language, tends to be used less later on and the growing children may fail to acquire or maintain certain grammatical aspects of the language. The quality of the input they receive (generally from their parents at home) also differs to that received by monolingual children, which also plays a part in that language quality.

However, it turns out that learning a second language (or third, or fourth)- whether as a child or as an adult- benefits cognitive capacities. Learning a language and the effort that goes with it translates to a better task focus and increased capacity to ignore distractions. Cognitive ageing also lowers. Studies need to be pursued in all the previous points to verify the extent of the benefits of speaking more than one language. And for those who want continuous results, using the new language for 5 hours weekly is deemed sufficient to keep the cognitive capabilities increase awakened.

The second talk by Kim Schulte looked at the assimilation of Castellón in Romanian. There is a growing intention for Romanians in Spain to remain there, specially after the EU joining, and as with any migration, it is of interest to adapt to the local culture. Romanians show a preference for the Spanish language as it demonstrates a high status and 1st generation immigrants achieve a high level of proficiency. 2nd generation become almost balanced bilinguals. From this fluency of both languages evolves a third stylized language? New language? Insider language to demonstrates a shared bi-cultural identity? Where Romanian and Spanish elements are combined in certain situations (and with certain people). This combination demonstrates an awareness and an adaptation. Children (or teenagers) typically will stick to Romanian with family members who do not know Spanish, avoid elements of Spanish with those who do not know Romanian, and may freely mix both with people likely to understand.

The third talk looked at a similar assimilation, or domestication, of English words into the Hungarian language used by students in UK universities. Results were compared with the language in use in Hungary. This overview showed that many words are borrowed- sometimes because Hungarian does not have an equivalent (as is the case for “lecture slides” which remains “lecture slides”). The UK students, who tend to use this English without always being aware of it, are also those who deem that it is not “cool” but cringe-worthy to fall back to English when Hungarian possesses a similar word or meaning.

The 30 minute talks left room to many questions and ideas for further studies about the impact of languages and their everyday use and transformations.

Tiffany

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