wayland wrote:Sounds somewhat similar to my field of interest. I've become specifically interested in easing the load of vocabulary learning (which is why I like the textbooks of both Mounce and Ward Powers, who include inflectional morphology for this purpose), and in the use of derivational morphology in easing this load.
There is a distinction between what is current and what is historical in derivational morphology and inflectional morphology.
Powers mixes the two together and makes it seem that inflectional morphology consists of a plethora of minutiae. While most of them are historically correct at one point of the language or other over from proto-Greek up till the Koine era, people probably never had that understanding of the language when they were speaking, reading or writing it. If taken as a stepping stone to the language it is great, but understanding any type of morphology (or any other grammar system) is not the same as actually understanding the language. The only Latin language that I have regular exposure to is Portuguese and speakers don't consciously morphologise as they are using the language, but do as they are thinking about sometimes. Foreign language learners do that more than others. In Power's system there are usually 5, and never more than 7 elements to be understood together at any one given time, but that level of detail requires a lot of processing. That processing distracts / detracts from the processing of sentence level language - utterances.
In most beginning language learning approaches, the syntactic structures of the language are too often left to learners' intuition. That is usually not a problem because we are all human anyway, and can get some meaning. After the conscious processing of individual words - by whatever means - has passed and they are understood on sight, the sentences and structures surrounding words can begin to be appreciated while reading.
Whatever system of analysis you have learnt a language by, eventually it needs to be learnt to the point where it is no longer needed, and meaning / comprehension is achieved on sight.
Specifically for the derivational morphology, when we are speaking our own languages, we don't analyse too much. I mean like when I use the copula 是 shì (is, be, are, was etc.) in a sentence, I don't think about that
Wiki article Copula linguistics Chinese wrote:
Before the Han Dynasty, the character 是 served as a demonstrative pronoun meaning "this".
I just speak. Similarly, I don't think about how to make sentences, I just speak them while I think about what I want to say. 80% of my thinking is given to the question of what to say, and 20% to how to say it. As for the derivational morphology, if I'm using a word like 手机 shǒujī mobile phone
, I would never think of the component parts of the word - 手shǒu hand
- as once
separated then now
joined, while in the time of speaking. Those type of things are reflective activities requiring different thought patterns analysis as opposed to comprehension. In reading too - you know Chinese doesn't separate words - I'm looking for groupings that make sense, not analysing things to find the components of sense. The actual process of language usage is the opposite to the way that most learners are taught.
"I’ll bet you can’t tell me what it smells like in the Sistine Chapel." (Good Will Hunting - 1997)