Hi, everyone. Welcome to our second weekly office hours. I'm here with Doctor I'm Maya Green. so, shall we just get started, dive right in? >> Yes. >> Right, so this week, we have some very interesting questions, mostly regarding AOA, which was the topic of the chapter, so that's not too surprising. >> [LAUGH]. >> So the first question has to do with pronunciation. So you suggest in the lectures, that pronunciation is one of those things, that's better acquired when a child is younger. So does that suggest, that children should have basically perfect accents? >> That's a really good question. I think,what, in the course we'll cover a little bit about phonology and second language acquisition, or bilingual simultaneous, whichever manner of acquisition there is. But I think we have to be mindful of the fact that, children have a, their pronunciation changes, as they go from across childhood to a teenage, to adulthood. So, it's not that child speech sounds just like adult speech. There are changes in pronunciation, even for someone who speaks just one language. >> Mm-hm. >> So I think that's the first thing that we need to be mindful of, is that kids will not speak exactly like adults even if they're monolingual. And we know that some sounds in a language are harder to and take longer to acquire than others, so like the, the trildar, [SOUND] in Spanish it takes monoling with Spanish children a while to learn that. >> Hm-mm. >> that, that sound. So sounds have their own developmental path and so we should be careful to our, parents should be careful to not to worry too much about a child who doesn't sound like an adult yet, because not most, the vast majority of children do not sound like adults. So that's the answer to the first question, and then there was this sort of. >> Right. We had a follow up question. Is it possible for children to have no accent in one language, but have an accent in their second language, even if they're growing up bi-lingual. >> that, again there is not a lot of data but there is some data that suggests that even when you have simultaneous bilingualism, with lots of exposure work done by Nunez Sebastian Gallez and her colleagues on research team and in Catalonia. And so in Barcelona, they found that fact when you look at simultaneous bilinguals who seem to have exposure to both languages, initially I think the research indicated there might be an accent from- whatever they're a home language or a most used language or they're base language and it gets difficult to establish that in such a kind of environment such as Barcelona. But, newer works suggest that in fact there may be some differences in how well the phrenology of a language can be picked up by individuals. Such that some individuals seem to have less of an accent, in both languages. Some individuals have accents in both languages. Some individuals seem to be more based in the phrenology of one language versus the other. Of course in the case of Spanish, there are these very subtle vowel differences. >> Hm-mm. >> That exists, so they're not huge differences but they're there. And again you know, it is possible that you could see an accent in one language and not the other. In both languages, in neither language all those different patterns of development would be possible and not in any way indicate any sort of delay. >> Right. Right. And do you think that maybe the ability to pick up on lang, on accents in different languages has to do with musical ability as well? >> It, it could be. I mean, there is some data linking the ability to pick up rhythm and musical sort of timing, with the development of grammar. This is newer, paper that just came out, this year. So my group at Vanderbilt University that looked at this type of processing. So, there does seem to be a connection between those two. Again it's not something that's really been looked at in the realm of bilingualism, it's been looked at in the realm of language and music. And there's not a huge literature on it, it's sort of growing. >> Mm-hm. So definitely an exciting field to, to get into right now. >> Yes. Absolutely. >> Wow. And so the last question that kind of arises from this discussion is actually my question, and I figured I would piggy-back on this and ask you whether a child's accent in let's say a second language, could be influenced by a parent or caregiver's accent in that language? >> So yes. I mean I think that there is an influence. Of course we have to ask, what's the environmental language of the child, so to what extent has the child been exposed to a language and they hear a native like accent. Then they'll pick that up, that environmental accent up. Now, of course, what happens to children who have, a child who, sorry a child who has parents who speak a non-native accent, or even a different regional accent within the same language, is that the child, then, will be able to imitate that accent quite well, and in fact. Many times in a multicultural place like Houston, and a multilingual place like Houston, what ends up happening, is the kids end up imitating their parents' language, so they'll speak English with accent, different accented versions of English. And they'll play around with each other. >> [LAUGH]. >> And then, the, the, the, the kids sill imitate their parents' accents, right and, and so it becomes very funny and comical. >> [LAUGH]. >> And then of course, other kids start imitating other, you know, versions of, of of accents of English. And so it becomes this big game, where all the different kids are, you know, imitating their own parents' accents or their own sort of native accent of their parents or somebody else's parents' native accent. And it becomes kind of this game of every let's see how many different types of accents we can, we can imitate. You know, as a comical kind of find kind of thing. So yes, they, they can imitate it, but that doesn't mean they'll have it. It, It may actually mean they're just going to make fun of their parents, coz they don't speak the way everybody else does, well, the way everybody else does in a standard sort of dialect. >> Right. >> Or standard accents. >> Right. And, and the reason that I ask that question, is because, when my family and I had just moved to the United States, my, my sister, she was like three or four, and she went to this preschool, and that was her only input for English. And the teacher at the preschool had a very thick Russian accent, and so she started speaking English with a Russian accent and it was so funny because no one else around her spoke with a Russian accent. So, she just had this heavy Russian accent in English that she picked up in preschool, so that was just really funny for us. >> And I guess the question is does she still have it today? >> Oh no, no. >> Okay. >> She, she has the California, standard California accent. [LAUGH] >> Okay. So, so, so that sort of shows you right what, what children are trying to do is imitate the environment around them. >> Mm-hm. >> And so they're really good imitators. I mean one of the classical stories that talk about this book is. The case of where his family took in a chimp to, to raise this chimp to be just like a human, and in the end, the child actually act, acted more like the chimp than the chimp like the child. >> [LAUGH] >> so, I mean, that's an extreme example, but it's the same with the Russian accent, right? Yeah, so she could imitate this accent, and probably today, if you asked her to imitate that accent, she might be able to do it pretty well. >> Mm. >> But that doesn't mean she's going to speak that way. >> Mm-hm. >> So, so you know, it's a lot of imitation and playing with sound that's going around with, going on with kids. So I mean those are just natural types of things that happen and obviously today she doesn't speak with the Russian accent. >> Right. >> So, and she may be able to imitate it, but she knows that's not the way she want to speak. >> Right. Right. So let's move on to our next question. This one has to do with Helen Keller, and age of acquisition. So, she was deaf, blind, and mute, and yet later on in life, she was able to become proficient in a form of sign language, and she got a BA, and she was a writer. How does that relate to and what we learned about Genie and Victor? >> Well I mean it's an interesting case and I think we have to be mindful that there are big differences between these. So I mean, Helen Keller was not a feral child, she didn't grow up without a family. She was obviously got sick around 19 months of age so by that time she already had language, most likely words, I mean I don't know I'm just speculating but I'm guessing that she was good at language. She had a good capability to learn it. I'm not saying that, again we all humans have the capability but some people seem to be more, able to learn it and sort of swim and live in language and others less so. so, she was very capable and she had exposure and in fact she developed her own home sign. Because one of the people that worked in her her household, one of the children of the people that worked in household actually could communicate with here. So, even though she, her obviously, her sensory experience changed because she no longer had full access to all her senses, she basically funneled it all through the senses she had available and continued communicating and developing her language over time. And I think what it shows, is the incredible adaptability, of our cognitive system and sensors system to find a way to solve a problem that is on the surface impossible to solve. How do you communicate without all of the different modalities that you would need to communicate? And she found a way. Which is, you know, incredible in and of itself. But I think we're talking about an alteration but not deprivation. >> Right. Right. So it's not that she had a late AOA. She developed language in just a completely different route than most kids would take, but she still had that early AOA. >> Yes. And she will have had symbolic representation. She would have known that a word stood for something in the world. So with that she was able to take that and then co-opt it and, and, and basically forge her own path, towards language proficiency. >> Mm-hm. >> Which I think again is, shows you the adaptability of, of our common system. >> Right. And of course cases like Genie and Victor, their severe abuse that they went through as children whereas Helen Keller grew up in a very supportive environment. Right, so of course that must have [CROSSTALK]. >> Well, I mean, for Genie it's clear it was abuse, for Victor I think the story is that he grew up with wolves, so, I mean, I think they protected him and took care of him, but, I mean, cause he wasn't, they didn't eat him, right? So he became part of the wolf pack in some way, but it wasn't normal or typical human interaction, right and so that was a problem. You just never get, he could never blend in with human society. With Genie it was abusive. >> So what I love about these stories is well of course they're terrible stories. But I think it's very interesting how the social development goes along with language development. How closely tied they are to one another. >> No I, I agree. I think, you know, ultimately, I mean there are groups of people who want to learn language just as an object coz they're hyperpolyglots who speak 11 or more languages. Or language becomes an object for them that they study. >> Mm-hm. >> But for most of us that aren't hyper polyglots which is the vast majority of humans, they speak less than 11 languages. It's a purpose that language serves. That is, to communicate, and so that's social. >> Right. So speaking of gaining proficiency in the language, this kind of brings us into our last discussion question that I wanted to bring up with you. There's a poster notes that she teaches English to adults. And she noticed that the older adults, like 30 years plus, actually do better than some of her young adults so 18 years to 21. And what she thinks is that that has to do with the first language that they know and how closely that relates to English. So for example Spanish or Italian speakers might have an easier time learning English than someone who speaks Vietnamese. What do you think about your relationship between first and second language? >> I mean I think, if we can, I'll take an Anglocentric point of view because that's the data that I know of. >> Mm-hm. >> Which is basically if you look in the United States De, Defense Language Institute, so they've set up, essentially a chart of languages that English speakers can learn. >> Mm-hm. >> And, and how long it should take for them to learn them and of course, at the bottom of that, in terms of the easiest ones, are romance languages. >> Mm. >> So those take about four, I think four months to learn, you know, of course, intensive training to, to pick up you know, proficiency in that. [INAUDIBLE] native-like proficiency, just to be able to communicate you know, effectively. If we then go to the next layer, it's things like German another layer, Hebrew, Polish, Russian and then, the final, really hardest layer, Hungarian is also in that other layer. The hardest one is Korean, Japanese, Chinese, and Arabic. So these are two years. So again, if you're coming in the other direction, from an Asian language to English, it's a much harder path to trail or to go up than it is for someone coming from a Romance language. And so again yes the distance between the languages plays a role although ironically the distance sort of sets how quickly you progress initially. So, if you're going from a language that's very similar, your progress can seem quite miraculous and quite high, quickly. But then the problem is if the languages are very similar, then it gets very difficult to deal with those subtle differences. And so you get the impact of [INAUDIBLE] if you want to talk about you know, Portuguese and Spanish or Spanglish if you want to talk English and Spanish, another example, right. So in terms of languages that are similar again, it's going to be, it's going to be difficult to get all the way there. Because there will be these very subtle differences that the speaker has to be mindful of, but they'll be able to make a lot of progress quickly. They're typologically different, then you're going to have a lot of hard work to do just to get into the language and that's just going to take a lot of time. So, yes, typology matters. >> So that's very interesting. It seems like, if you want to become proficient in a language, then it would be easier if your first language is more related to it. But, once you do speak it, then, if the languages are very related, you might confuse them more. Than if they were very unrelated. >> Well you, it's not that you'll confuse them more because there's a lot of overlaps. >> Mm-hm. >> But it's just that you'll confuse them in very specific places. >> Mm-hm. >> So they'll be very noticeable. And I mean one story that somebody told me one time that was Dutch was that during World War II the way they figured out whether someone was German or not is they would just make them speak. Right. So when they cross the border they knew immediately who the German spies were by just having them try to speak. Now notice Holland and Germany are very close to each other and so you know typologically both languages are quite similar. I mean, when I went Germany to Holland I just kept thinking like okay, this is somewhere between, I could almost see, like, how German and English relate Because it was like, somewhere in between, you know, it's like, as you progress, you just see this sort of changing of the language, from German to Dutch to English. And so, typologically they're very similar, but to really be native-like, right, in this case, you know, it's pronunciation, but to really be native-like is difficult because those differences are quite subtle. So you know, it depends on, on, on how you want to think about it. The fact that you can get in is great. I mean, and, and so you should be happy about being able to get in. Now if you want to be like you know, fully in. You've got to you know, really be able to proficiently use it. Then yes, there will be those little subtle places, where you have to work at distinguishing very subtle distinctions. >> Okay. Well, I think we're all out of time for today for our office hour meeting. Thank you so much for joining us. >> Thank you. Good questions. >> And thank you for for watching and for participating in forums. We'll do this again next week. Please do continue to post your discussions and question sin the forums and we'll see you next week.