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Babel No More / Mezzofanti’s Gift

 Language Learning Forum : Lessons in Polyglottery Post Reply
149 messages over 19 pages: << Previous 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 ... 15 ... 18 19 Next >>
hrhenry
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 Message 113 of 149
23 February 2012 at 8:35am | IP Logged 
Zwlth wrote:
... will immediately think "oh, he's gay, autistic, and can't tell left from right." That's not exactly the kind of first impression I'd be keen on making even if any of that did apply to me.

With all due respect, that sounds more like a self-esteem issue, not something that a single book either introduces or overcomes. Why would you ever rely on what a book claims (however weakly, in this case) to make your first impression? That's not any book's responsibility.

R.
==
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Zwlth
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 Message 114 of 149
23 February 2012 at 10:19am | IP Logged 
That's my whole point - the lasting aftertaste of this book is the undermining of a polyglot's self-esteem. Speaking as a hyperpolyglot, when I first read it, I felt validated and affirmed by it, but as time goes by, I can't shake the impression that I have actually been subtly slighted by it.
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hrhenry
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 Message 115 of 149
23 February 2012 at 10:41am | IP Logged 
Zwlth wrote:
That's my whole point - the lasting aftertaste of this book is the undermining of a polyglot's self-esteem. Speaking as a hyperpolyglot, when I first read it, I felt validated and affirmed by it, but as time goes by, I can't shake the impression that I have actually been subtly slighted by it.

OK then, I'll rephrase.

Why does this book make you feel like a victim? And why are you letting it make you feel like a victim?

I don't know, but were you included as a study subject? If not, the book isn't representative of you.

R.
==
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kanewai
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 Message 116 of 149
23 February 2012 at 6:10pm | IP Logged 
I think you might be reading things into the text that aren't there. To say "a higher
proportion of polyglots than monolinguals are left-handed" is not the same at all as
saying "if you are a polyglot you are left-handed" or or that left-handedness causes
polyglottery.

Correlation does not imply causation.

(I speak "Statistical Analysis" at a B-2 level ... grin)

Edited by kanewai on 23 February 2012 at 6:41pm

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Zwlth
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 Message 117 of 149
24 February 2012 at 2:53am | IP Logged 
In order to help my family members and friends comprehend my passion for learning languages, it would be really nice if I could give them a book and say "here, read this and you'll understand me better." As I was reading through it, I thought Babel No More was that book, but not any more. Having finished it some weeks ago though, the details are starting to fade and only the overall impression remains, and that is that there is all too much highlighting of embarrassing abnormality in it. It would have been nice if Erard had gone more into the stated motives of polyglots rather than trying to psych them out and categorize them so much.
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Iversen
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 Message 118 of 149
25 February 2012 at 8:02am | IP Logged 
I agree with this, and I have said in the comments to my Youtube video about the book that if there is to be a sequel, it would be interesting to see something more 'positivist' (i.e. descriptive). I have also stated that the attempts to classify hyperpolyglots apparently didn't really lead anywhere, and that the group may be too small for statistical analysis - especially with the narrow definition where 11 languages are required. And Erard has answered that there come be a sequel sometime in the future, though without specifying the nature of such a sequel.

Edited by Iversen on 28 February 2012 at 1:47pm

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Fasulye
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 Message 119 of 149
28 February 2012 at 8:18am | IP Logged 
Polyglot Susanna Zaraysky's review of "Babel No More":

Susanna Zaraysky's review of "Babel No More"

Fasulye
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Zwlth
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 Message 120 of 149
29 February 2012 at 10:52am | IP Logged 
This last interview provides a perfect example of why I have come to almost regret that the book was written. What does the woman latch upon? A supposed link between visual disability and language prowess, Erard's notion "that a common strain amongst these super language learners was that they had visual-spatial disabilities."

What is that based upon? "Erard cites two super hyperpolyglots, Graham and Alexander who can't drive. He discusses the ideas that visual-spatial deficits could be overcompensated by heightened verbal abilities, leading one to be adept at learning many languages." How about this instead: these two have achieved out of the ordinary (learning many languages), which is quite time consuming and might easily require the sacrifice of certain "normal" activities such as driving. There are also many other possible explanations for why these two don't drive. I don't recall either of them stating in the book that they didn't drive because they were visually-spatially disabled. I don't know if that is Erard's own actual conclusion or merely one to which he leads people like Susanna Zaraysky to make, but in either case it makes me very uncomfortable.

In the first place, I doubt it is accurate. I never heard of Graham Cansdale before I read this book, but I imagine I have read everything the professor has written about language learning as well as watched all his videos, and as he has never said anything about this, I would be willing to wager that he is not at all disabled, visually-spatially or otherwise.

Moreover, I think Susanna's review exemplifies the fact that people, having read this book, are going to associate the general pattern and common characteristics of polyglots with various forms of abnormalities and disabilities. How long will it take until we are all labelled as having OLLD (Obsessive Language Learning Disorder) and they develop a form of prozac for us?

Didn't Erard say he would actively discuss his book here with us? Fasulye, could you please remind him of this?


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