42: What makes a language “easy”? It’s a hard question

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Mar 19 2020 39 mins   1.1k
Asking which language is the hardest to learn is like asking where the furthest place is – it all depends on where you start. And for babies, who start out not knowing any of them, all natural languages are eminently learnable – because otherwise they wouldn’t exist at all! In this episode of Lingthusiasm, your hosts Gretchen McCulloch and Lauren Gawne get enthusiastic about a common question: what are people really asking when they ask about “easy” or “hard” languages? It turns out that there are several things going on, including which languages you already know, whether you’re approaching a language as an adult or a child, and what sort of motivation and contexts to speak it you have. — This month’s bonus episode is about teaching linguistics, and how you can be your own best teacher even if you aren’t heading to university any time soon. We discuss ways to make learning about more than just terminology, how to get right into data from the beginning, and how to keep a clear picture of how linguistics is relevant to other things you’re studying or enjoying. Support Lingthusiasm on Patreon to gain access to the teaching linguistics episode and 36 previous bonus episodes, and to chat with fellow lingthusiasts in the Lingthusiasm patron Discord. New this month we’re also doing a couple listen-along chats in the Discord as well, so you can stream the episode at the same time as fellow lingthusiasts and chat with each other in the channel for that! https://patreon.com/lingthusiasm Lingthusiasm merch makes a great gift for yourself or other lingthusiasts! Check out IPA scarves, IPA socks, and more at lingthusiasm.redbubble.com — Have a great idea for a linguistics communication project, but need a bit of money to get it off the ground? Looking to support emerging lingcomm projects? The LingComm Grant is a $500 grant for communicating linguistics to broader audiences in 2020. If we reach 790 patrons by the 1st of May 2020, we’ll give out four grants instead of two. Applications close 1st of June 2020. Find out more and apply here. http://lingcomm.org/grant For links to everything mentioned in this episode, go to https://lingthusiasm.com/post/613058137097912320/lingthusiasm-episode-42-what-makes-a-language