Everyone has a different motivation for learning a new language, whether it’s to communicate with family members, a dream to move countries or simply as a way of meeting new people.
Apparently, something that isn’t motivational for a lot of people is money. The Swedish government has a programme rewarding immigrants for passing their SFI (Swedish for Immigrants) course – but less than a fifth of the money allocated has been spent. Students are offered bonuses of up to 12,000 kroner, or around $1900.
The motivation behind the programme is to help ease immigrants into Swedish society. But only some of the students saw the bonus as something worth working for; others struggle with the language and decide to take their time in classes. The integration minister, Erik Ullenhag, said:
“We are trying to put out a very clear message from society that one of the most important ways to integrate into the Swedish community is to learn the language.” (Source: The Local)
What’s your motivation for learning a new language?
New research from the University of Texas at Austin shows that people match each other’s language styles more during happier periods in their relationship than at other times. From Science Daily:
“When two people start a conversation, they usually begin talking alike within a matter of seconds,” says James Pennebaker, psychology professor and co-author of the study. “This also happens when people read a book or watch a movie. As soon as the credits roll, they find themselves talking like the author or the central characters.”
This is called language style matching or LSM, and as it is automatic (people match their language with others without noticing), it’s apparently a good indicator of a relationship.
Style-matching scores were calculated between poetry written by two pairs of spouses, Victorian poets Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning and 20th century poets Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes, which mapped major changes in their relationships.
“Style words in the spouses’ poems were more similar during happier periods of their relationships and less synchronized toward each relationship’s end,” Ireland says.
Differences in style matching between the two couples were revealing as well. Even at the high point of their marriage, Hughes and Plath were less in sync than the historically more harmonious Brownings were at their lowest point.
I wonder if style matching works across languages also? Is it easier to learn a new language if you’re in a relationship with someone who speaks that language?
A new language has been discovered in a remote part of India.
The language, Koro, was discovered by a team of linguists who were on an expedition as part of National Geographic’s “Enduring Voices” project on threatened indigenous languages.
It is estimated that the language is spoken by around 800 to 1200 people and has never been written down. Koro is distinct from other languages in the area, and belongs to the Tibeto-Burman family. According to BBC News:
The researchers were searching for two other little-known languages spoken only in one small area.
As they heard and recorded these, they found a third which was completely new to them and had never before been listed.
“We didn’t have to get far on our word list to realise it was extremely different in every possible way,” said Dr David Harrison, one of the expedition leaders.
The linguists recorded thousands of words- and found Koro was distinct from other languages in the area.
It belongs to the Tibeto-Burman family, which includes around 150 languages spoken in India. But scientists were unable to find any others closely related to Koro within this group.
I find it amazing that this language wasn’t ‘discovered’ until now! I wonder how many other languages we haven’t yet heard about?