Professor Monika Schmid is Head of the Department of Language and Linguistic Science at the University of York. She received her PhD at the University of Dusseldorf and speaks five languages; German, Dutch, English, French, and Spanish. Her main area of research is the loss of natural language among multilingual people. It’s a problem she’s experienced directly as a multi-linguist herself.
We are never lost when it comes to languages. Even if you haven’t used them in a while, all knowledge of the language is still inside your brain and can be accessed again with some practice. With every passing day, our ability will improve so much more that soon enough these forgotten phrases could come back into use.
“There has been quite a bit of research about children who are raised with more than one language about the fact that they are able to take on the outlook of other people have sort of more, there tends to be sort of measures of empathy and measures of understanding. Children who grow up with more than one language tend to do better on that. There's a really interesting thing.”
“We need to, particularly when we train people, when we train students to work in a multilingual environment. You know, we have to teach them these kinds of things. We have to make them aware of the difficulties and pitfalls of intercultural communication.”
“German has a lot of kind of particles that are used to sort of slightly change that doesn’t actually have any meaning as such, but sort of, are used to change the tone of the of the message.”
“Brain handles language in a way that is different from any other knowledge that we have because I mean, it stands to reason that you forget things and stuff if you don't use it. However, there seems to be and we know this from other experiments, all the languages that we have in our brain are interconnected. And so basically whenever you use any language, all the other links all the knowledge of other languages that you have receives a little bit of simulation and that seems to be enough to prevent it deteriorating. What does deteriorate is your ability to quickly get out it.”
“The words in all the languages that you have the words that mean the same thing are situated quite closely to each other and sometimes you reach for them because we talk at a rate of five words per second. So you have to make these decisions very quickly and sometimes you just take the wrong one.”
“We don't lose the language. We don't lose the knowledge. What we lose is the access to that knowledge, just sort of sort of nice, fluent way of getting it out.”
ABOUT THE HOST
Levent Yildizgoren, the author of 'Good Business in any Language', is an award-winning entrepreneur, localisation professional, and a PRINCE2 qualified project manager.
ABOUT THE GUEST
Professor Monika Schmid is Head of the Department of Language and Linguistic Science at the University of York.
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