Re: Foreign Language Acquisition

From: Steven Craig Miller (
Date: Tue Jan 25 2000 - 02:57:54 EST

<x-flowed>To: David C. Hindley,

SCM: << I was once told, in all seriousness, by one of my Jesuit professors
at St.Louis University, that one of his professors had once given a
lecture, where half way through he quoted from some ancient Greek source,
only to accidently finish the lecture in ancient Greek. >>

DCH: << This phenomenon, I suppose, is a matter of being thoroughly, and
equally, comfortable with both languages. >>

Once upon a time, and in a magical land and time far, far away, that is,
when I was a much younger man than I am today, I dated a lovely girl of
Puerto Rican descent. And I noticed times, depending on the circumstances,
where she could move from speaking Spanish to speaking English without
realizing that she had shifted from one language to another. For example,
she could look at her mother and speak Spanish, then look at me and speak
English, and not realize that she had even spoken in Spanish. So although
she knew I didn't speak Spanish, she assumed that I understand what she had
said to her mother. But then she was completely bilingual and lived in a
bilingual world (so to speak). Perhaps I am mistaken, but I find it hard to
believe that anyone had so mastered ancient Greek that such an accident
could be possible. After all, with whom would such a person have had a
conversation in ancient Greek? What community of ancient Greek speakers was
there for one to cultivate such language behavior?

-Steven Craig Miller
Alton, Illinois (USA)
FWIW: I'm neither a clergy-person, nor an academic (and I have no post-grad

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