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Posted: Tue Sep 20, 2016 1:32 pm
The dictionary definition of "Fluent" is too subjective. It says things like, "Able to use the language easily and accurately".
How accurate? Easier than what?
I like the idea of "thinking in another language". I might not consider myself fluent until I can think in toki pona. I already replace a few concepts in my head with toki pona words, "tawa" being the first one for some reason.
Posted: Tue Sep 20, 2016 6:11 pm
Enough. It's context relative.
Thinking in another language is trickier. I've never done it, but I can do really fast translations, which seems good enough.
Posted: Tue Sep 20, 2016 7:14 pm
The closest I've ever come to being fluent in another language was learning to speed read. This is what made me wonder about fluency. To speed read, you have to abandon word reading and start letting concepts flow without actual words. You start by not saying the words with your inner voice, but somehow noticing them, and you end up just taking in the sentences whole. I keep hoping for that, a kind of direct knowledge that a fish is concurrently a fish and a kala and a sakana. In the same way that a car can be an automobile, without having to translate from the word car.
But, since I am not fluent in any language but English, I am probably off on the wrong track.
Posted: Tue Sep 20, 2016 8:40 pm
Interesting analogy, but I am a slow reader (part of being an editor, probably), so I don't have comparable experiences.
Posted: Tue Sep 20, 2016 9:20 pm
I am not sure that fluency is directly related to thinking in another language.
I have used duolingo
for several months learning Italian (mainly) and other languages. I have also used memrise
as an introduction to toki pona
, tok pisin
and others. I would not call myself fluent in any of these languages as I would have little hope of holding a conversation (without the use of a dictionary/translation tool) in any of them.
I do, however, observe things and try to say something about it (what it is, for instance) in a language other than English (my native language).
Example: while reading this thread, I was drinking a cup of tea. I looked at the cup and attempted to say "the beverage is tea" in Italian. I did not consciously think of the sentence in English first, only speaking it after I had done so in Italian first (I got it wrong by the way!) There have been times when I have done this with other languages, including toki pona. (Often, after I say it in English, and think about it, I will realise that I got it wrong, but that is all part of learning, right!?)
It is possible that I am thinking it in English first, though not directly conscious of the fact. Not sure.
Posted: Tue Sep 20, 2016 11:00 pm
Well, are we satisfied with the idea that before a certain point we are not fluent, then at some other point we are, or is it more of a spectrum? If you can use the limited amount of vocabulary you have with fluidity, are you fluent, but just not very fluent?
Posted: Wed Sep 21, 2016 1:05 am
Fluency as a spectrum.
I could agree with that.
Posted: Wed Sep 21, 2016 11:07 am
Spectrum seems a good line to take. Over on toki pona Facebook, we have a guy who translated (crudely) all the tp words into spanish then strung them together tply and dropped the results on people in Mexico. Since humans are wired to see patterns and meanings, the results were that people sorta understood what he wanted to say and suggested more usual ways to say it ("good Spanish"), with the result that he was understood from the get-go (minimal competence, not yet really showing on the fluency graph) and soon was conversing -- on restricted topics, to be sure, but expanding the restrictions fairly quickly with new vocabulary and idioms -- fairly smoothly. somewhere on the fluency spectrum but not yet over the bell hump to "fluent", I think. When his only problems are vocabulary and things like the pluperfect subjunctive (if that ever arises), then he is clearly into the fluent side (more fluent than the average Gringo who makes an effort, say).
Posted: Wed Sep 21, 2016 4:43 pm
As another example of something, I have an ex-father-in-law who considers himself fluent in Japanese. I checked him on this and he basically knows the first chapter of my Japanese book. But where I was unable to speak a single sentence to a Japanese person we ran into, he could happily converse with them for minutes, because he had that one chapter forefront in his speech center. He had it down as a physical skill and could bring it out on demand. He introduced himself, then me, then asked about the other person's home city and family... Came away sounding like a guy fluent in Japanese, while I had 5 times the vocabulary and none of the vocal skill.
Posted: Wed Sep 21, 2016 11:08 pm
Yes, one of the notorious problems with many apps for learning tp, say: great vocabulary, no grammar, and often little sense of language flow. Neither you nor your kith was fluent, but he could probably fool someone for ten minutes or so. None of this really gets us closer to deciding who is fluent, but gives lots of negative cases.