Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Learn Half a Language

It's just me, or it's easier to read and listen than to write and speak?
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This Language Centre teaches Half of a language, i.e. to read and listen only. The student will avoid the writing and speaking, saving time and effort. Hopefully, thanks to the great dissemination of this centers, and over a few years, one will be able to speak in spanish and be understood. And of course one will be able to listen in german and understand.
selenio, Mar 22 2016


       This I like. Sort of "passive" language skills.
neutrinos_shadow, Mar 23 2016

       Baked. Americans. They can understand English, but can't speak it.
8th of 7, Mar 23 2016

       Which dialect of English would you be referring to? Estuary? Kentish? Norfolk? Suffolk? Devonshire? Bristolian? Cockney? Does any of the above resemble English?
RayfordSteele, Mar 23 2016

       // Which dialect of English //   

       Proper English, like what the Queen done speak.
8th of 7, Mar 23 2016

       I think the speaking and listening half might be more useful. There is a lot of precedent for doing without the reading and writing half.   

       I wonder if the right brain language (gesturing, grimacing etc) is language / culture specific? If an expert watched someone talking expressively with the sound off could he or she tell where that person was from?   

       No fair using the Queen for this test. Maybe test subjects could wear mime makeup and a beret for purposes of camouflaging culturo-ethnic giveaways.
bungston, Mar 23 2016

       That way I learned to read Spanish and a bit of French - but I couldn't talk my way out of a paper bag in neither language. So there is at least anectodal evidence of the principle to work. One of the drawbacks is that you get much of the pronounciation wrong in your mind's ear.
Toto Anders, Mar 23 2016

       I am so glad it was not just the adjectives / nouns or the verbs / adverbs.
popbottle, Mar 24 2016

       Relating this to math as a language, I begin to suspect that we are being taught half a math language. As a society, we are not fluent in math.
selenio, Mar 24 2016

       The Queen speaks? I thought all she did was wave and wear silly hats.
RayfordSteele, Mar 24 2016

       You hear and read a language. You become comfortable with it. You associate meanings with it.   

       Not uttering it, you never realise that the meanings you've ascribed to it are wrong*.   

       Does this matter?   

       *The waiter looks rather offended and brings you an inner tube.
pertinax, Mar 04 2021

       Taken to its illogical extreme, as no one could speak or write a language, eventually there would be no one to listen to and nothing to read.
tatterdemalion, Mar 04 2021

       In some cases it doesn't matter. I once learned enough "passive German" to extract the information I wanted from the Pauly- Wissowa Realencyclopädie, and it didn't matter that I couldn't hold a conversation.   

       Looking at it from an engineering point of view, rather than a philosophical point of view, I was wondering how we might characterise the use cases to which this idea would be applicable.   

       The study of dead languages would be one, but what are the others?
pertinax, Mar 04 2021

       Watching "foreign" movies, reading "foreign" books (however "foreign" is defined for you), street signs, menus etc when travelling.
In light of current situations (pandemics, lately a tsunami warning) being able to understand emergency instructions while somewhere else would be rather useful.
neutrinos_shadow, Mar 04 2021

       Suppose you're reading a foreign novel (as opposed to non- fiction). If you couldn't read it at a fluent speed, you probably wouldn't enjoy it. If you couldn't hear in your own head how the words were supposed to sound, you probably wouldn't enjoy it. If you couldn't imagine the world from the point of view of the characters speaking the dialog, you probably wouldn't enjoy it. But if you could do all these things, then you would, in effect, be able to speak the language.   

       So maybe the "foreign books" use case should be confined to "non- fiction foreign books".   

       Given that exclusion, is there any use case ascribable to this idea which would not be handled better by AI translation?
pertinax, Mar 04 2021

       Yes; every case where you don't have an AI translator handy!
neutrinos_shadow, Mar 05 2021

       Can I sell you this small rock, which is superior to a hammer in every case where you don't have a hammer handy?   

       There's a discount if you buy in bulk.
pertinax, Mar 05 2021

       //They can understand English, but can't speak it.//   

       Yet I'm surrounded by those who can neither listen nor shut up.
lurch, Mar 05 2021

       Many years ago, I was sent out on a mission across the world by my employers to train classrooms full of users in how to use my company's software product. I was lucky enough to have a Spanish translator in Argentina, and muddled through in French-speaking places, but had to improvise in German-speaking Lichtenstein by setting the software's language settings to German, and using the menu-drop-downs as a kind of crib sheet, with a projector and my laptop to help, I managed to glue the words from the menus together with variations of "links-clicken" and "rechts-clicken" and tried to memorise my way through the course topographically. They allowed me to leave at the end of the day, so apparently they were satisfied at having received enough instruction, but it was a weird day. Sometimes, it's less a case of having learned half a language, so much as blindly carrying on regardless of knowing essentially nothing at all.
zen_tom, Mar 05 2021

       It's not just you.   

       If you want to write & speak you have to learn the different ways various letters are pronounced in the other language. If you're just reading & writing it you can merrily jog on without ever bothering to learn that.   

       How can it not be easier to only have to learn the meanings of the letter combinations without worrying about how they're supposed to sound :)
Skewed, Mar 06 2021

       [pertinax]; I have used a rock when I didn't have a hammer. I didn't need to buy one; if I was buying something to carry, I would buy a hammer!
Equally, AI would be better than learning half a language, but knowing half a language is better when you don't have an AI.
neutrinos_shadow, Mar 07 2021

       True, but I suspect that the courses at the proposed language centre would cost more than picking up a rock.
pertinax, Mar 07 2021


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