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Thread: Richard Feynman on the uncertainty of knowledge - video

  1. #21
    Supporting Member jdurand's Avatar
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    Due to changing politics when I was in school, we went through several versions of "English" training with year-long gaps between versions. The result is we studied a lot of literature but very little actual grammer.

    This has made it "interesting" learning Russian since I never learned various grammer terms and now need to use them. With one of the hardest languages for an English speaker to learn.

    Oh well, if it wasn't challenging, it wouldn't be fun...right?

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    Supporting Member mklotz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tonyfoale View Post
    My wife was educated in the UK, she has no knowledge of grammar. She has no idea of what a verb, noun or adjective is. On the other hand my kids all have a good knowledge of English grammar. They learnt English as a second language in a Spanish school, of course they had to have been taught the grammar of their first language, Spanish, before being expected to understand that of their second.

    My experience has been that it is the native English speaking countries which have declined the most in the teaching of their own language. I often ask how can this trend be reversed, because there will be no teachers capable.
    I couldn't agree more, Tony.

    I've long contended that folks who learn English as a second language write and speak better than native speakers because they had to study the language, which the native speakers thought was unnecessary since they already spoke it. English is arguably one of the most difficult Western languages to learn. To think you comprehend it because you speak some local redneck garble of English words is really laughable.

    When I was in school, the curriculum included an English course and a math course every semester right through high school graduation. I decided that, though the teachers didn't know everything, that amount of attention to these two subjects meant that they must be very important for life and so required serious attention. I'm really glad I made that decision because, when I got to college (MIT) they had no English courses (except for non-native speakers); they expected you to have learned all that stuff in high school.

    At the rate that English usage is currently deteriorating, there will soon be job opportunities for scribes who convert your slang and garble into material fit to use in school or job applications, formal letters, legal documents, etc..
    ---
    Regards, Marv


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  4. #23
    Supporting Member Philip Davies's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tonyfoale View Post
    My wife was educated in the UK, she has no knowledge of grammar. She has no idea of what a verb, noun or adjective is. On the other hand my kids all have a good knowledge of English grammar. They learnt English as a second language in a Spanish school, of course they had to have been taught the grammar of their first language, Spanish, before being expected to understand that of their second.

    My experience has been that it is the native English speaking countries which have declined the most in the teaching of their own language. I often ask how can this trend be reversed, because there will be no teachers capable.
    I routinely taught parts of speech to my pupils. Unfortunately, almost all of them could not remember one from another. While much of this may have been down to me, I was not the only one who had tried!
    I did not learn them myself when at secondary modern, but through the acquisition of German as a foreign language. Personally, I do not think it makes much difference to the ability to use and understand English, if you do not know the parts of speech and formal rules of grammar. My ability in English was formed by absorption in literature, from infancy. Much of it comes from a memory of what is general usage. So, if you were to ask me whether a word was used correctly in a sentence, mostly I would be correct, without reference to any rules. English (unlike German) is quite irregular! I realize I can no longer explain the rule for “who/whom”, so please, don’t ask! I can tell you, eg, that “none” as the subject of a sentence requires the singular form of the verb, but hardly anybody gets that right. How do I know that “They gave it to Tony and I” is wrong? (Or, worse “...to we” - I read that on CNN) It is down to experience.
    Ability in English is merely my good fortune, not the result of formal study: it does not give me the right to sneer at those who are less fortunate, on the contrary.

    Just to re-iterate: I have known many good people, some of whom have lots of awards on this forum, who were unable to read and write as children, and were convinced that they were failures when they left school. Some of them are training the next generation of craftsmen now.
    But the teachers in schools today have to be far better than I was. They have to be! But I do not envy them. It is a very stressful, despised and poorly paid profession. If any of my children’s friends are going in to teaching, I tell them to obtain insurance against premature breakdown.
    Last edited by Philip Davies; Feb 15, 2021 at 12:13 PM.

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  6. #24
    Supporting Member DIYSwede's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jdurand View Post
    /Snip/ This has made it "interesting" learning Russian since I never learned various grammer terms and now need to use them. With one of the hardest languages for an English speaker to learn.

    Oh well, if it wasn't challenging, it wouldn't be fun...right?
    -My deepest sympathy and keep up the good work!
    "Russian's a bidge" to digest even for most speakers of Germanic languages.

    Cold War Story: Over forty years ago, I flunked miserably by not easily wolfing down 350 russian words/ week,
    and found myself kicked outta the Interpretor's Course* with the seemingly kind words:
    -Johan, don't resist! Unleash your inner interpreter!
    But given your meagre test results, I guess you've finally realized you're not amongst us happy few...
    Nothing personal this time - and not everyone is born as an interpreter, you know.


    Ten years later, in '92 we did a job in Moscow with a 34 person crew, and I became the team's liaison with the natives...
    Then, given the amazing looks I got, I realized that Soviet-age military terms for some reason had dropped outta fashion...

    ATB to you and your wife, Jerry!

    Cheers
    Johan

    * With a 25-30% annual washout rate at that course and another, more thrilling commission I quickly got over that trauma.
    That assignment was also "darned hard fun" but apparently more fitting, given the outcome

  7. #25
    Supporting Member DIYSwede's Avatar
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    Just to name a one problem when estimating one's own knowledge or skills:
    One might just lack the very proficiency needed to correctly judge that ability,
    instead applying false assumptions and illogical reasoning to finally reach indorrect conclusions.
    Add peers of that same ilk, and you get the self-reinforcing, perfect group-thinking and cock-sure cadre.

    -I started the above from my experience working at a university -
    but suddenly realized the lines above describe one necessary trait of a cult following...


    FWIW:

    We argue that people’s finite conceptual horizons are a pervasive
    and powerful constraint on how they make sense of the world.

    These horizons represent the hard boundaries of where people’s
    possible interpretation of their circumstances can go, and define the
    finite channels into which their understanding is funneled.
    To be sure, what each individual person knows is considerable, but it
    pales against the entire landscape of concepts that are possible to know.

    The typical 20-year-old English speaker knows the equivalent
    of 42,000 dictionary entries, with the number rising to 48,000
    by age 60 (Brysbaert, Stevens, Mandera, & Keuleers, 2016).

    Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, however, contains
    roughly 470,000 entries; the second edition of the Oxford English
    Dictionary contains over 600,000.
    From a 12p paper (K Wu & D Dunning, UMich 2017) called Hypocognition: Making sense of the landscape beyond one's conceptual reach

    WuDunningRGPHypocognition.pdf

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    You should never trust an organ that named itself...



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